If you are thinking of visiting the Czech Republic and have plans only to visit Prague, can we persuade you to alter course and spend at least two days in North Bohemia? You will come away wondering why you only allowed two days! A region of wine, spectacular lush green mountains and valleys, castles, mining heritage and history. We also can’t leave out the lovely and hospitable Czech people.
(Editor Update 2020)
But first, we would like to whet your appetite and show you our Youtube video on what it is like to visit the North Bohemia region of the Czech Republic.
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North Bohemia Map
This beautiful region is also known as the Czech Middle Mountain region and it is only 54km north of Prague. So easy to travel to from Prague after you have spent at least 2 days enjoying the sights of this beautiful capital of the Czech Republic.
The main cities in the Czech Republic region of North Bohemia are Litomerice, Most and Teplice. Litomerice is on the confluence of the Elbe and Ohře Rivers and is one of the most beautiful towns in the region. It is also known as the “pearl of the north“.
Teplice is located between the Bohemian Midlands and the Ore Mountains. Teplice has also been called “little Paris” because of its elegance and international prestige.
Most is the capital city of the Most district and lies along the Bilina River. The name “Most” in Czech means bridge. During the 10th century, the town was named Most due to the number of bridges that crossed the swamps around the town.
The highest peak in the Czech Middle Mountains is Milešovka (836m) and it is also the windiest. All weather forecasts are made from Milesovka which has been called the Queen of the Czech Middle Mountains since the 17th century. The region is made up of conic shape mountains that were formed by volcanic activities in the tertiary period (it began about 65 million years ago, following the Cretaceous period, and extended to the beginning of the Quaternary, about 2 million years ago.)
Offroad Safari are the leading tour company in the region. Over the two days, we experienced their:
- Secrets of Volcanoes: Bohemian Countryside Tour
- Bohemian Vineyards and Wine Tasting Tour
- Industrial Heritage: Coal Mines Up Close
What to See in Litomerice
The brochure says “Litomerice a Royal Town Worth Visiting“. What was so unique about this town that it was worth visiting? As we walked from our accommodation towards the main square called Peace Square, we could see why! It’s beauty astounded us! Peace Square is the hub of this captivating town. Your eyes are drawn to the unusual tower that dominates the square and down towards the colourful facades on the buildings around you. There is a buzz from the cafes and restaurants that surround the square.
Litomerice is one of the oldest towns in the Czech Republic dating back to the 10th century. It was granted ‘royal status’in 1262 by King Přemysl Otakar II.
Visit the Information Centre First
We thank our Guide Andrew from the Litomerice Visitors Centre for the informative few hours we spent in his company enjoying the delights of Litomerice.
We would recommend that you visit the Litomerice Visitors Centre at:
412 01 Litoměřice
The Peace Square (Mírové náměstí v Litoměřicích)
Peace Square is the largest square in Bohemia about 1.8 hectares and it is not square but rectangular in shape. Originally in the medieval ages, the square was used as the main marketplace for the trading of goods, livestock and produce. Many of the buildings are from the Gothic period and there are good examples of Baroque and Renaissance architecture to be found throughout the town. There are over 256 buildings in the town and 104 of them are listed as national monuments.
The Old Town Hall
The Museum is located in the old Town Hall and it is spread over 2 floors. It is the oldest Renaissance building in Litomerice.
The Chalice (The Tower)
The Tower that dominates the skyline of Litomerice belongs to the Gothic House that was redeveloped in the 16th century by Ambrosio Balli for Jan Mraz of Milesovka. The Mrza family were very rich, and owned vineyards in the area. They desired to have the most beautiful house in the town and one with a view. They got it! The Tower has been constructed in the form of a goblet.
There are 99 steps to the top and you can climb it for the extensive 360-degree views. The Tower is built in the Romanesque style and stands 26m. The views are incredible and it is definitely worth the climb.
A tour is available with a guide from the Information Centre.
What a past history! Originally a church that was completed in 1731,then a brewery in 1773, then a church again in 1810 and now the North Bohemia Gallery of Fine Arts. For 20 CZK you can visit the exhibitions and help preserve the building. Unfortunately, the building is not unique enough to have funding by UNESCO. Any donations received assist in preserving what we think is quite a unique building in Litomerice.
You can’t miss the Black Eagle House in Peace Square. The House was redeveloped by Ambrosio Balli in the 16th century in the Renaissance Style. Check the gables and the graffiti on the facade. It is now a restaurant but back in the 18th century it was used as barracks.
The Town Fortifications
The horse-shaped well preserved Gothic bastions offer spectacular views towards Cathedral Hill.
Originally constructed as a Romanesque Basilica and first mentioned in 1057 it was reconstructed in the 14th century in the Gothic style. It was later destroyed and reconstructed again in 1681. On the top of the tower is a Baroque Belfry.
Back in the 16th century, there were 24 churches for 4000 people. These days 7 out of 10 people of the Czech Republic do not believe or partake in any religion.
The Bishops Residence
You can’t miss the 17th century Bishops Residence. It sits proudly on the Dome Hill above the Elbe River. The colours of the red and white Baroque Palace can be seen from the fortified Gothic walls.
Gothic Twin House
The Gothic Twin House is the oldest standing burgess house in town.
One of the most unusual and unique museums we have ever encountered is the Museum of Crystal Touch. Here you can see the hands of celebrities such as Steven Seagal (the largest hand), Ringo Starr, Ivan Lendl, Gene Simmons of Kiss and others that have been created in crystal glass.
Local artist Jan Hunat creates these crystal glass sculptures of hands in a special process.
Address: Mírové náměstí 18/10, 412 01 Litoměřice
Opening Hours: Monday Closed
Tuesday – Sunday: 1000 to 1700
Entrance Fee: Adults CZK50 (2018 prices)
Children: Age 6 – 15 years CZK 35
Children below 5 free
Where to Stay in Litomerice
The top hotel in Litomerice is the Grand Hotel Salva located on Peace Square. Click here for the latest prices and availability.
The Hotel Roosevelt located on Rooseveltova 962/18, Litomerice is a 3-star hotel rated 8.0. Click here for the latest prices and availability.
For other properties available in the area:
Where to Eat in Litomerice
Restaurant Capra is located in Peace Square at Mírové nám. 12/4, 412 01 Litoměřice-Město. The menu is exciting and the food was delicious and tasty. They also had vegetarian and gluten-free options available. Some of the best Czech food that we have had was here at Restaurant Capra that day for lunch.
To Travel Too Tip: you must try the desserts.
Offroad Safari: Industrial Heritage: Coal Mines Up-Close Tour
Town of Most
Most was once on the trade route from Prague through to Freiberg in Germany. The Hneva Castle was built high on the Hneva mountain surrounding Most as a stronghold to protect the caravans on the trade route during the 12th century.
The castle was captured during the 30 years war (1618-1648) by the Swedes. In 1651 by the order of Emperor Ferdinand II the castle was pulled down. In 1896 a group of friends rallied to have the castle rebuilt and it was finished in 1900.
Today there is a restaurant, a hotel, an observatory in the Hrad (which means castle) Hnevin and they hold small concerts throughout the year.
On the outskirts of Most, there is a church with a history – the Church of the Assumption of the Virgin May. It is so famous it even appears in the [amazon_textlink asin=’1912286432′ text=’Guinness Book of World Records‘ template=’ProductLink’ store=’totraeltoo-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’e7643307-d32e-11e8-97fd-b1b49672538c’]. You can see it from the top of Hrad Hnevin.
The story begins back in the 1960s when authorities discovered lignite (soft brown coal) under the town of Most. As you can imagine the authorities wanted to mine the lignite and quite a few of the historical buildings were destroyed. The people of Most wanted to keep their Gothic Church. After several years of trying to decide how to keep the church the decision was made to move the whole church to a new location half a mile away. It took several years to plan the move. After securing and reinforcing the church’s pillars and foundations, building a special railway track, the church was placed on 53 rail trucks and on September 30, 1975, it started its short journey. It was moved in one part except for the tower. The gross weight was 12,000 tonnes. It took 27 days at a speed of 1cm – 3cm per minute to travel the 841m.
Up Close To The Biggest Machines We Have Ever Seen
We arrived at the coal mine close to Most to witness first hand the biggest machine in the Czech Republic. It stands 51m high, 165m in length and is made out of 4200 tonnes of steel. It takes 7 people to operate it and can move 3m in 1 minute. To buy a new machine similar it will cost 1 1/4 billion CZK (Czech Republic currency) or USD 55,339,115.00. Open cut coal mines are closing down in the Czech Republic and this particular one is due to close in 2021.
So what happens to the coal mines? We are happy to say that they are turned into large lakes which are used for water sports. This particular mine’s lake will be 75sqm with a depth of 150m.
Chateau Jezeri was known as the Baroque Pearl of the Krusne Hory Mountains. Today it sits at an altitude of 387m in the Ore Mountains overlooking the mine that we had just visited. The Chateau was originally built as a castle in the 14th century. During the 18th and 19th centuries, the Chateau became the social centre of the area with famous visitors such as Johann W Goethe, Ludwig van Beethoven and the Italian opera singer Antonio Brizzi. During this time the main hall was reconstructed into a theatre and this is where Beethoven would perform.
During WWW2 the Chateau was occupied by the Wehrmacht and served as a prison for diplomats officers and politicians of the Allies. After the war the Government allowed the Chateau to go to ruin and there was talk that the Chateau was to be demolished to make way for the mine. The local people objected.
Thanks to the newly founded Society for the preservation of Jezeří it was preserved. Reconstruction of the Chateau is slow due to its size. Currently, it is open to the public and many cultural events are held there during the year.
Secrets of Volcanoes: Bohemian Countryside Tour
Bohemian Vineyards and Wine Tasting Tour
We experienced both of the above tours from Offroad Safari during our time in North Bohemia as well as the Industrial Heritage.
Hrad Skalka part of the Bohemian Countryside Tour stands high on the mountains of the Czech Middle Mountain with great 360 degree views over the countryside. Visiting the Hrad Skalka is part of the Bohemian Countryside Tour.
For a glass or two of the local craft beer Hospudka Penzion is the ideal location with stunning views over the countryside.
The Kocour Brewery is unique in the Czech Republic. From traditional lagers to a variety of top fermented lagers Kocour Brewery produces unique tasting beer. We enjoyed the new Sam’s Cat series of beer by Japanese beer maker Toshi Ishii who has years of experience in creating extra bitter beers.
Flying Goat Farm
A visit to the Flying Goat Farm was a memorable experience. Not only did we get to feed the jersey cows, calves and goats we were fortunate to have some time cheese tasting. This was not your usual run of the mill goat cheese, this was the best our group had ever tasted it. Such a pity that we were not spending time in the area otherwise we would have purchased some to take with us. The Flying Goat Farm is a family business in the region producing the best cheese from Jersey cows and goats.
History plays an important role in the wine industry of the Czech Republic. Back in 1057 wine was already being produced. Evidence of wine production such as pruning knives and grape seeds were found in archaeological excavations around the many Slavic settlements in the Czech Republic. During the 13th centuries, monasteries produced wine with grape varieties from Germany and France.
Unfortunately during the 30 years war (1618-1648) vineyards were destroyed. During the 2nd half of the 19th century, the vine pest Phylloxera destroyed the vineyards in all regions.
Czech Entrepreneur and wine lover Jan Dienstl restored the vineyards of the Chateau Trebivlice from 2004 through to 2010. In 2012 the first harvest was completed. Johann W Winery now has 35 hectares under cultivation over 5 vineyards. They grow 7 white and 3 red wine varieties with an annual production of approximately 100,000 bottles.
As we were standing drinking and admiring the views we noticed a cemetery beside us. The 19th-century cemetery belonged to the Jewish Community but unfortunately it was destroyed in WW2 by the Nazis. The last burial took place in 1942. In 2003 the cemetery was renewed. When you walk through the graves you will notice that the headstones are in 3 languages Czech, German and Hebrew. Knowing the history of WW2 and the Jews it was quite an eerie feeling as you passed through the cemetery, a sense of sadness enveloped knowing the suffering they endured.
Have you ever experienced a step back in time? Back at the Trebivlice Winery, we entered a great hall to be greeted by none other than Johann W Goethe (Germany’s greatest literary figure and statesmen) and his greatest love Baroness Ulrike von Levetzow. Johann loved spending time in the Czech Republic especially in Karlovy Vary in the Spa Triangle). At the age of 72, he fell in love with the 17-year-old Baroness, but her mother put a stop to any of his romantic ideas. He died in 1832 of heart failure 10 years after his meeting with the Baroness.
Not only were we greeted by Royalty but we were shown through the Czech Republic’s modern manufacturing operations of winemaking. Their intimate knowledge of the workings seemed incredible. We were invited to dine with Johann and the Baroness in the upstairs hall and to further enjoy their wine with their local cuisine. Such an honour. In fact, they were none other than Martin Jaros (CEO) of the Johann W and Event Manager Petra Berankova. They came up with the idea of playing the part and they pulled it off admirably.
Would you like to become a vintner for an hour?
Johann W offers an hour tour where you learn about the mashing and pressing of the grapes and the fermentation of grape juice. Of course, there are wine tastings at the end.
Trebivlice Winery is not only a Winery
On the day that we visited they had an Asian Street Food Festival. There were not only tourists but locals enjoying the unique experience. The Winery is available for weddings, parties, dances, presentations, shows, business lunches and dinners. There is an open air 233 seat amphitheater available for stage performances and converts under the stars.
Do You Need a Visa
How To Travel To North Bohemia
Travel via Regiojet coach services to the town of Most.
Train services are also available from Prague to Most and Teplice.
There are bus services from Prague to Litomerice and Teplice.
Airfares are changing all the time check the latest airfares with Skyscanner and sign up for their airfare alerts.
If you would like to visit the North Bohemia region by car click here for the latest deals on car hire.
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Check out our other articles on visiting the Czech Republic:
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Our thanks go to Czech Tourism, Offroad Safari and TBEX Ostrava 2018 for our 2 day experience in North Bohemia. As always our opinions are our own.
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