Monday, 2 May 2011
Rock Castle at Sloup v Cechach
A few weeks ago I was visiting the Bohemian Switzerland on behalf of a client and was making my way to Jicin when my satnav decided to take me on the scenic route. I am very glad it did, because it brought me through some lovely old villages with the traditional wooden houses of the northen Sudetenland and to this rock castle at Sloup v Cechach.
The northern part of the Czech Republic cannot boast the wonderful unspoilt towns of South Bohemia, its towns have been too industrialised. But it can boast spectacular sandstone formations like the one above and is a mecca for lovers of spectacular scenery, geology and rockclimbing. Some were converted into rock castles when robbers or local leaders built forts on the top of them. But in this one much of the castle is hollowed out of the rock itself (Sloup means column in Czech).
You enter the castle via a small door at the base of the rock and then climb a staircase cut through the rock, with toolmarks on the wall, further up you will find rooms - a black kitchen, chapels, living rooms, and more buildings on top of the rock itself. It probably started as a shelter for local people and then in the later middle ages became a more formal fortress. After a period as the base of a robber knight it was besieged and taken. During the Baroque period the rock was home to a hermit and several chapels were built for pilgrims to the site.
It really is the most weird place and one unlike anything I have experienced elsewhere. You are left alone to explore the rooms clutching an information sheet and imagining the past, so much better than the rather boring guided tours the Czechs normally insist on providing. My visit did not take long, but I left grateful to my satnav.