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Turnov, Czechia

Český Ráj (Bohemian Paradise)

Bohemian paradise covered in majestic forests. 

The word paradise often conjures images of a luscious beach, blue-green waves, and hammocks stretched between palm trees. However, the Czechs might offer a different opinion on the subject.

The Czech Republic is entirely landlocked, has a chilly central European climate and remnants of a communist past that is all too recent. Despite these impediments to the classical paradise, the Czech forests surrounding Turnov offer a specifically Czech version of utopia.

Cesky Raj, or the Bohemian Paradise, is a protected area in the North of the country, covered in majestic forests, hilltop castles and volcanic pillars. Only a day-trip away from the capital, Prague, it has become a popular tourist destination.

Among the sites in the area, the hruba skala or rock town, is the most famous. Just seven kilometers from Turnov, the rock town is punctuated with volcanic sandstone pillars shooting through the tree line. The bright white of the pillars strikingly contrasts the deep greens of the surrounding woodland. Although the hruba skala is the most notable of rock outcroppings in Cesky Raj, the rest of the protected area is dotted with similar volcanic pillars and a hike around the area is a breathtaking endeavor.

Along with the stunning forest landscape cut by the Bohemian Jizera River, the Trosky Castle in the heart Cesky Raj cannot be missed. The Trosky Castle is comprised of two 14th-century ruins well over one hundred feet above the ground. The two ruins rise prominently from atop a hill and volcanic plugs, sending them high into the sky above the flatlands around the area.

Originally built by a Czech nobleman, the castle has survived multiple wars and attacks and miraculously can still be visited by tourists. While roaming the landscape around the castle, visitors should also inspect the caves near the base of the castle’s hills. The castle lies only fifteen kilometers from Turnov and should be included in any itinerary through Cesky Raj.

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All locations easily accessible from Turnov, Czech Republic.

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