A Ma and Pa hike

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Pa R. didn't want to spend too much time in glittery/ornate/luxe places whilst in Prague. A peek inside St. Nicholas Church was fine for him; no need for a proper tour or 7 p.m. classical music concert in there. And sausages in a pub were good, thanks; he wasn't keen on any establishment that used multiple forks or cloth napkins. 

Thus, when planning an itinerary for Ma and Pa's Czech visit, we figured a hike in the woods would be suited to Pa's tastes. Armed with Google Translate, I dove into the Czech interwebs and surfaced with a trek through Český kras (Czech karst), a protected landscape area. 

We departed Prague from the Smichov train station, which would be the perfect setting for a horror movie, with its rusted signs, prolific graffiti and pungent urine smell. 

The train, however, was much nicer, as you can see from the photo Ma snapped.

Around 45 minutes later, we alighted in Vráž, population 920. It was a cute little village, but in Czech it translates to "Murderers"! I read that the village was nearly destroyed during the Thirty Years' War and in 1651, it had only 8 inhabitants. Two, listed in a gossipy Czech registry were:
  • Waczslaw Šenkýř, tenant farmer, 60 years of Catholic
  • Anna disobedient wife of 32 years

We had to foot it through the mini municipality to reach our trail, and we passed...

...a yard full of geese that followed us along the fence as we walked...

...and a big pig. And lots and lots of barking dogs. Every yard had one (or three).

After about 2.5km through the woods, we came to Svatý Jan pod Skalou (St. John under the Cliff). It was an absolutely breathtaking place. 

First, there was a Gothic cemetery with the Chapel of Maximilian. 

And a bit further on, the Church of the Nativity of St.. John the Baptist and cave St. Ivana. This picture, from Wikimedia Commons user ŠJů, shows the church and monastery-turned-pedagogical school (bottom left) from above. We could've climbed a steep rock face to reach this vantage point but saved our legs.

Inside the church there's a tomb with St. Ivana's remains, as well as ancient limestone caves where the hermit Ivan supposedly lived and established the holy place in the first half of the 9th century. We weren't allowed to take photos. 

Nuns and children were playing nearby. 

The village itself had a slow trickle of cyclists and hikers passing through. I'd like to come back and poke around a bit more. 

The trail continued around the wall of the church complex...

...and back into the karst. 

This particular stretch of trail had informational signs about the flora and fauna of the area. (Curses for not being able to read Czech properly!)

My 60-something-year-old parents maneuvered the path with no problems. I should probably mention they've back-country hiked some of the most difficult trails in Alaska and Montana. They're pros. 

I can't find the name of this abundant purple-yellow flower we kept spotting. Any ideas?

This little guy posed for a photo.

And we passed some lovely waterfalls, longer than they were high, though I neglected to photograph them from a decent angle.

Finally, we reached our destination - the stately Gothic Castle Karlštejn. I read somewhere that during the Hussite Wars, it served as the holding place for the Bohemian/Czech crown jewels and other royal relics.

As you can guess, we didn't do a tour, but we did hang out in the courtyard and then filled up on fried cheese and strawberry dumplings below the castle.

What a view! BW and I had been here earlier in the year on this bike trip.

And then we hiked back to the train station and snoozed the whole way home.

Distance: Roughly 13km
Difficulty: Light to Moderate
Rating: Five stars :)


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Wow, some great views from the hike, particularly that valley view! What a strange name for the little village, Murderers, did you learn the full story of the town's name?

    1. I haven't figured out the name origin yet - only that it was a village within the jurisdiction of the castle. There's probably information somewhere on the 'net in Czech, which I'm terrible at reading. I wonder if there's some meaty story behind it... :) The imagination can wander!

    2. Oh! See ua's comment below for more info!

  3. Haha your translation from Czech is a little funny. "Nepoddaný" means simply "free tenant", not "disobedient". That would be "nepoddajný". I guess it's close enough for Google Translate. And Vráž doesn't have to necessary be related to "murderers" ("vrazi"). From what I could find it is related to Proto-Slavic word "vordža" which means "jinx", "grudge" or "witchery". Some etymologists believe vráž was a name for a high places in the land where pagans performed rituals, worship and celebrations.

    1. Hi ua, thank you so much for the information! Your translations make much more sense than what Google Translate provides; I probably should have asked a Czech friend before writing this post. I'm curious as to whether you're a native Czech or became fluent in it as a second language. (I.e. is there hope for me?) :) So glad you stopped by.

  4. One of the joys of living here in Prague, is being able travel outside the city by public transport & enjoy a walk in 'the nature' as Czech people tend to say in English, just as you describe here. You're becoming very Czech :-) Also, there is a wonderful network of trails which are very well waymarked so that they're easy to follow.

    1. I wholeheartedly agree, Ricky! It was really fun showing people I love how beautiful it is "in the nature" :) The hiking in the Czech Republic is one of my favorite things about the country. Please share if you know of some good walks!

  5. As I have the obnoxious habit of finishing things other people left unfinished and answering rhetorical questions I can not resist this one - the plant on your picture is called Melampyrum nemorosum or Černýš hajní in Czech - for further inquiries of this type please use this website http://www.kvetenacr.cz/. It is in Czech, but I'm sure that you can manage - just click on the banner on the left featuring the month ("červenec") and you will get the list of now-in-bloom wild flowers of Czechia. Have fun exploring the great outdoors! Your not-so-big-on-commenting faithful reader ;) Z.


Thanks for taking the time to comment!

where to find me

Popular Posts

Czechesotans © . QUINN CREATIVES .