The city of Gothic, soap, ceramics and the Naughty Bachelor
In our small country there are many beautiful places which are worth visiting. Let´s visit a town which lies only a few tens of kilometres west of the capital Prague. Our ways invite us into a town, in which we can still see its history and in which we can see according to the buildings or their rests how our predecessors lived. During our walks we will see a town whose history, life and habits of local inhabitants were wonderfully described by the writer Zikmund Winter in his stories. Let´s walk through the town of the “Naughty Bachelor“ (a story by Zikmund Winter) and stop on places which are important from the historical point of view.
Our first journey leads us to a region, where the river Berounka flows peacefully through the beautiful Křivoklát woods, and which the writer Ota Pavel peculiarly describes in his stories. On another journey we are going to visit a region of ponds by which you can rest and woods full of mushrooms and various berries in which you will gain energy. Our next journey will take us to places full of unexplained mysteries and secrets.
Dear friends, on our journeys through the town and from the town there are many interesting places worth visiting waiting for you.
Welcome to Rakovník, the town of the Naughty Bachelor, and its beautiful surroundings.
Let´s walk through Rakovník, a charming town not far from Prague. Its history is rather long, it was mentioned for the first time in 1252. We start our walk at the picturesque Prague Gate, which was the first part of the town fortification – we can see its rests on the sides of the gate. After going through the Prague Gate, we get to the part of the town which evokes its old history. On the left we walk along the former palace of the Cistercian monks from Plasy who rested here on their ways to Prague.Today we can find the T. G. Masaryk Museum here. Then we walk between St. Bartholomew´s Church and the detached belfry standing next to it and we get to the square. We turn right and go around the oldest grammar school in Bohemia, where the writer Zikmund Winter taught for ten years, and go up through the crooked streets around Česká chalupa (Czech Cottage) in the direction of the High Gate, one of the dominant buildings of this town, which is used as an observation tower today. From the High Gate we go down through Vysoká (High) Street. In this part of the town there used to be a Jewish Ghetto, today this quarter belongs thanks to its buildings to the most interesting parts of the town. The most famous Jewish monument is the synagogue, whose oratory has been preserved in its original state and today it is used as a concert hall. The rest of the building is the site of the Rabas Gallery. Another preserved building is the Samson House where you can find an exhibition gallery. From here we go through Havlíčkova Street along the Rakovník brewery to the cemetery where we can see the Holy Trinity Church, one of the oldest wooden belfries which were preserved in our country and St. Rochas Chapel which was built by the inhabitants of this town after a plague. From the cemetery we go along the court building and the statue of Karel Havlíček Borovský which stands in front of it. We turn to Palackého Street and come to the square. Husovo Square is the centre of the historical part of the town. There are many interesting buildings, one of the most important ones is the complex of the townhall buildings. In the eastern part of the square there stands the only sculptural monument in the historical centre of the town, the Mariánský Column. Along the church we get to the neat town park with the statue of T. G. Masaryk. The park is a quiet oasis in the middle of the town inviting to have a rest. Opposite the park there stands the Sokol house, one of many interesting monuments in Rakovník. From the park we turn right and come to the newly reconstructed Tylovo Theater, which is connected with the building of the Cultural Centre. Through one of the side lanes we come back to Husovo Square.
This walk through the historical centre of Rakovník is about 3 km long and it takes about 2 hours. However, if you want to visit some of the exhibitions or if you want to see Rakovník from the High Gate, you have to take into account that this walk will take more time.
Our tip: If you come back to Husovo Square and you still have some time which you want to spend in Rakovník, you should certainly visit the museum, you will not be disappointed. The T. G. M. Museum offers stable expositions about the history and nature of the Rakovník Region and at the same time it organizes various exhibitions for the widest spectrum of visitors.
We start our today´s walk on Husovo Square by the gothic St. Bartholomew´s Church which is built on the place of the original St. Nicholas Church and which was rebuilt into its present form at the turn of 15th and 16th century. In the park on the right side of the church we take a look at the picture of The Suffering Virgin Mary from the cut mosaic. The park was set up in the second half of 19th century on the place of the original pond Sekyra which supported the fortification system of the town and of the church. The Antonín Dvořák bust, which stands in the picturesque corner of the church, reminds us of the visit and the concert of this great componist in our town just before he went to the USA. Not far from the Antonín Dvořák bust there is the statue of the first Czechoslovak president T. G. Masaryk. The author of these statues of great Czech personalities is the academic sculptor Miroslav Pangrác. The paths among the beautiful, often valuable trees invite you for walks and comfortable benches invite you to sit down and rest in the everyday rush. When we cross the major road, which divides the two quiet zones of the town, we come to the Čermák Park. The entry into this green oasis of serenity starts at the building of the Sokol house. This architectural jewel was designed by the architect Otakar Novotný and it was inaugurated in the year 1914 on the occasion of the Sokol district festival. During our walk under the spreading chestnut trees we can see the housing contruction of the town and the modern part of the building of Masaryk´s Commercial Academy on the left side. We come to another monument, which is unfortunately not used today, the music summer-house from the year 1928 by the architect Jan Rössler. We cross the foot bridge over the brook and we get to the building of the Town´s Swimming Pool. If you like swimming and sauna, you can use its services. If we go through the lane along the swimming pool and turn left, we can see the diverse beauties of the Botanic Gardens, which were established in the year 1963. The way leads us further along the right side of the Rakovnický Brook, where we go along the ice stadium to the new bridge, which was built in the year 2006 instead of the old, unsuitable one. We cross the bridge and turn left to the Jewish cemetery which is situated in the slope above the road. This cemetery was established around the year 1635 and is a valuable cultural monument. The oldest gravestone comes from the end of 17th century. By its entry we can also see a well preserved gravedigger´s cottage from the classicism period. From this monument we return along the road to the centre. On the left side we surely notice the new, modern complex of the Special School buildings (The building of the year 2003). Our next steps take us to the Chapel of St. John Nepomucký standing in the shadow of a spreadind tree. It was built in 1851 above the larger-than-life baroque statue of St. John Nepomucký.
We come to the roundabout, we go along the historical part of the building of Masaryk´s Commercial Academy and we come back to the town centre. We are welcomed by the Prague Gate, which was the first part of the town´s stone fortification whose rests you can still see on both sides of the gate. We go through the gate along the T. G. M. Museum in the former palace of the Cistercian monks and we come to the initial point of our walk, to St. Bartholomew´s Church and the belfry with two bells – Wenceslas and Batholomew, which belongs to the biggest bells in Bohemia thanks to its 160 cm.
This walk is about 3 km long. We manage it, if we do not decide to bath in the swimming pool, with short stops by the interesting places waiting for us on the way, in two hours.
Our tip: On the way you should certainly stop in the Botanic Gardens of the High Agricultural School in Rakovník, which were established in 1963 on an area of 1, 43 ha. The students of this school look after the gardens under the direction of their professors within their lessons. The gardens serve as a place for both relaxation and knowledge for the inhabitants of the town as well as for its visitors.
The town Rakovník forgets neither its famous natives who propagated and propagate its name at home as well as abroad nor famous people who spent shorter or longer time there. Our third walk is through Rakovník´s centre, along the houses which remember these personalities…
Our walk starts by the house Nr. 1 which stands next to the Prague Gate. This house was originally the palace of the Cisterciak monks and it is a museum today. Ph.D. Kamila Spalová was born here in 1871. She was the first woman in the Rakovník Region who graduated and the first Doctor of Philosophy. She was an important cultural worker, writer, teacher and later also the director of the girls´ school in Prague. The museum´s auditorium is named after her. Next to this house there stands the building of the grammar school. Above the front door there is a memorial plaque in memory of the writer Zikmund Winter. He taught History, Czech and German at this school in the years 1874 – 1884. This novelist and story writer also organized and participated in the cultural life in Rakovník and he became a member of the town council. His interest in the local archive and the study of old documents lead him to his first belletristic work “The Pictures of Rakovník”. Not only the local grammar school, but also the assembly hall at the townhall and the street where he went for walks in the early evening are named after him. And we should not forget the annual meeting of amateur theatre groups called “Winter´s Rakovník”. The writer´s bust stands in the museum´s yard.
We go along the grammar school, we pass the beautiful historical building of the primary school and along the High Gate we get to High Street. In the house Nr. 226 in the middle of this street, which is the New Exhibition Hall of the Rabas Gallery today, the famous baritone singer Emil Burian (*1876) was born. He studied at the academic grammar school in Prague, later he concentrated on the study of singing. He performed with great success not only at home but also abroad. Since the year 1906 he had been a guest in the National Theater in Prague, where he later became the permanent soloist. The stage player and national artist E. F. Burian was his son. This famous singer is remembered by the memorial plaque with his portrait and by the festival of vocal music “Rakovník of the Burian Brothers”.
The significant Czech sculptor and painter Miroslav Pangrác (*1924) was born in the house Nr. 230 opposite the exhibition hall. Today this house is the studio of this author of many famous statues, portraits, memorial plaques and remarkable pictures of Rakovník. One of his most famous works of art is his allegory “Music” for the grave of the author of the Czech anthemn František Škroup in Rotterdam. In his native town we can see his T. G. Masaryk statue, Antonín Dvořák bust and his memorial plaque with the portrait of Emil Burian.
We go along the synagogue and turn to the second part of High Street leading to the square. In the middle of this street on the left there stands the house Nr. 108, in which the humanist, important parliament speaker, the chancellor of the Old Town in Prague, the council writer, translator and writer Sixt from Ottersdorf was born at the beginning of 16th century. After he was actively engaged in the rebellion against the Habsburgs in the years 1546 – 1547 he lost his job and was imprisoned. These events inspired him to write his most valuable work which describes the anti-Habsburg rebellion and which became a reliable source of what was happening in Bohemia at that time. The memorial plaque with his name is placed on the townhall building.
The house Nr. 81 stands at the corner of High Street and Husovo Square. Jiří Herold, a famous Czech viola and violin player and since 1906 a member of the Czech Quartet, was born here in 1875. As a composer he concentrated on the violin and viola compositions, but he also composed a violin quartet and an organ fugue. He became the professor of chamber music at the conservatory in Prague. His hobbies were astronomy, photography, portraying and excellent manufacturing of violins – his violin won the Imperial Prize at the International exhibition in Frankfurt upon Mohan. The music festival “Herold´s Rakovník” is organized every year in his honour.
Through the western part of Husovo Square we get to Trojanova Street. The house with the current number 51 belonged to the renowned family Gryll from Gryllov. The most famous member of this family was Jan Gryll from Gryllov Senior, the master of liberal arts, a poet, a judge and a honored alderman of Rakovník. Thanks to his personal conversation with the emperor Rudolf II. Rakovník became a royal town. He won the emperor´s favour and became a nobleman with the surname “from Gryllov”.
From Trojanova Street we come back to the square. In its northern part, in the house Nr. 117 (today the drugstore U Jeřábků) the soapmaker František Otta rented a soap workroom after his arrival to Rakovník in 1875. He repaired the equipment and at nights he made soap and candles which he sold in the shop during the day. Thanks to his diligence and business talent the number of his customers and the sale grew. In 1905 he built a new manufactory by the rail, which he gradually extended. His products had the cancer trade mark and thanks to their quality and good price they were very popular. Later on, František Otta became the owner of the house Nr. 124 in the middle of the square (it is a stationery today) where he sold his products. You can still see his name on this house.
At the end of our walk we stop at the house Nr. 166 in Husovo Square which is connected with the most famous writer of Rakovník. It cannot be anyone else than Zikmund Winter. The memorial plaque reminds us that this professor lived there at the beginning of his stay in Rakovník.
Our tip: Have you already walked through the historical centre of the town, have you climbed the High Gate, have you tasted the traditional beer from Rakovník and you are still looking for something interesting in Rakovník? If the weather isn´t nice you can visit the Rabas Gallery. It is an essential part of culture in Rakovník whose main activity is organizing exhibitions. The stable exposition of the work of the famous painter Václav Rabas, who was born in Krušovice, the exhibition halls with an interesting exhibition or a concert in the former oratory in the synagogue will certainly enrich your memories of our town.
Our longest walk leads us not only to Rakovník, but also to its surroundings. This walk is marked by a yellow symbol which is called “the yellow letter”. You can take the whole walk or you can join us any time and choose only a part.
This walk through Rakovník starts and finishes in Husovo Square, at the guidepost in front of St. Bartholomew´s Church. From here we follow the yellow mark along the church, we go through a park full of beautiful trees and benches towards the Sokol house. It represents the modern town architecture from 1914 and is built according to the design of the architect Otakar Novotný. The way continues through the chestnut alley and along the left bank of the Rakovnický Brook towards the former Jewish cemetery. It was founded in 1635 and some gravestones are only a few years younger. It lies in a slope and you can see parts of the gravestones from the path. We should also notice the gravedigger´s house from the classicism period which stands next to the entrance gateway. Behind the cemetery we cross the bridge to the right bank of the brook and go to the crossroad Nový mlýn (The New Mill) by the sewage clarification plant. We turn right and go under the railway line. On the right we can see a farm which belongs to the High Agricultural School and where the students gain their practical experience; the locals call this farm Bulovna. We continue against the stream of the Jalový Brook and cross a small bridge. We come to the cottages under the Pavlíkovské Peaks. We turn right across the bridge by the first cottage and go up the track towards an asphalt road and to the crossroads where the yellow symbol leads us to the right. Everybody surely notices the new flat-buildings and family houses. We continue along the modernized sports facility of the primary school to Plzeňská Street. We cross this street and Komenského Square and come down to the railroad viaduct. Behind it we go through Vrchlického Square and come to the Rakovnický Brook. We go against the stream and cross a small bridge to the other bank. We turn left and follow the yellow symbol, we pass the modern Town Stadium, which is the home of several sports teams, and the blocks of flats. Behind the last blocks of flats the path changes into an asphalt road and goes right to the major road. On this road we go to the right and after several meters we turn left to the small St. Jiljí Church. This late gothic building is significant for the inhabitants of Rakovník. According to the legends the habitation of Rakovník started right here. We go up the path along the church towards the gardens. We continue on a grass path to a post with an indicator leading us to the training ground for dogs which is used a lot. We go to the right on a wide, dusty path which provides a beautiful view of the whole town and its surroundings. There aren´t many marks but the path leads us to the new villas and to the road. The yellow letter takes us further to the right along the tank and we come back to the town´s centre. We go along the cemetery with the Holy Trinity Church from 16th century and a belfry which is considered to be the most valuable Czech wooden belfry. In Havlíčkova Street we pass the brewery of Rakovník. It renewed its production after several years in 2004 and that´s why you can taste the traditional “Bakalář” beer again. The dream of beer lovers came true and it happened in the year of 550th anniversary of beer cooking in Rakovník. To reach the goal of our walk and to get successfully back to Husovo Square we must take the first turning right. We come down to Vysoká (High) Street and we pass the Rabas Gallery which resides in the most famous Jewish cultural monument in Rakovník, in the former synagogue. The only preserved part of the whole building is the Jewish oratory which is used as a concert hall today. We continue along the house called Samson, whose façade is decorated by sgraffito depicting Samson´s fight with the lion and with the Filištíni nation. This house is a showroom and a café today. We come to the High Gate which belongs to the most monumental late medieval buildings of its kind in the Czech Republic. The yellow letter leads us from the High Gate through Masná Street and along Česká chalupa. This building, which is a restaurant today, was built in the second half of 18th century on the rests of a medieval house. We go on through the lanes of the former Jewish ghetto, along the open air cinema and through a passage we come to Husovo Square. The mark leads us through the centre of the square along the baroque Marian column with the sculpture of Virgin Mary and the statues of St. Wenceslas, St. Vitus, St. Prokop and St. Vojtěch back to St. Bartholomew´s Church, the dominant of the eastern part of the square.
This walk is 10 km long. It takes us through the nature in Rakovník and its near surroundings, to modern houses as well as historical momuments. When walking slowly and stopping for a rest you can manage this walk in three to four hours.
Our tip: If you are not tired yet and you still have enough energy, you can climb 31 meters to the gallery of the High Gate, whose total height is 46 meters. From the bird´s-eye view you can see the town and its surroundings.
During our walks we get to know the town with its monuments, places of interest and personalities. If we want to get to know the town and its life, we must get to know its culture, sport and possibilities how to spend pleasant time, too. Rakovník is the centre of social, cultural and sports life for its surroundings. It has about 18 000 inhabitants today, which means that it does not belong to big towns, but it is the biggest town of the whole region.
Education has had its tradition in our town, because the first grammar school in Bohemia was opened here in 1833. There are five high schools, three primary schools and seven nurseries there. The House for Children and Teenagers, The Club of Science and Technics, the maternity centres Radost (Joy) and Paleček (The Little Finger) offer a lot of courses for children, teenagers and adults. You can also visit discos or dancing clubs.
Concerning education and free time the Town Library also plays an important role. It was founded in 1841 and belongs to the oldest libraries in Bohemia.
Every visitor of Rakovník can choose something from the cultural programme. In the newly reconstructed Tylovo Theater there is also a cinema. The Cultural Centre offers entertaining and social prgrammes. The Marionette Theater In front of the Gate prepares programmes for little children. Far and near, Rakovník is known for its theater and music festivals, which take place here every year, and for its regular competitions in classical and country dancing.
In the centre of the town we can visit the T. G. M. Museum with the stable exhibition about nature in the Rakovník Region and about the history of this region. The museum has two exhibition halls, a lecture hall and the Samson-Cafeé gallery. The High Gate and the Prague Gate also belong to the museum. Both gates are used for exhibitions and the High Gate serves also as an observation tower.
The Rabas Gallery enriches the town´s art life with its exhibitions, too. The lovers of art can enjoy stable exhibitions devoted to Václav Rabas, the painter of this region, and to the collection of contemporary statuary. They can also visit the exhibition halls in Vysoká Street, at the townhall and in the former synagogue..
There is obviously a lot for the sportspeople, too. All year long they can use the swimming pool, the sports hall, covered tennis courts, squash, bowling, the local Sokol house and the gym. From autumn till spring you can ice-skate at the ice stadium. There is also a minigolf course and in summer you can visit the Tyršovo open air pool. There are enough sports opportunities for your free time and it is up to you what you choose to do for your body. The town is the starting point of many touristic paths and there are also many paths for biking which you can use for one day trips into the surroundings.
Our tip: On our walks you will certainly enjoy refreshment in some of the local restaurants. There are enough restaurants straight in the square as well as in its near surroundings. Most of them offer sitting outdoors in summer, so you can absorb the town´s atmosphere and watch life in Rakovník.
The Křivoklát Region is in the south-east part of the Rakovník district. This region is cut by the Berounka River from the west to the east. There are many deep woods, to which the rulers from Prague came to rest and hunt in the Middle Ages. Thanks to its Central European uniqueness this region was declared the Protected Landscape Area in 1978. There are many significant monuments there, the most significant one is the castle Křivoklát.
Křivoklát is a royal castle which is built above the valley of the Rakovnický Brook. Its first written mention comes from the year 1110. At first Křivoklát was only a ruler´s hunting seat, later under the rule of Wenceslas I. /1230 – 1253/ it became the head-office of the region. Another ruler who liked Křivoklát was the king Wenceslas IV. /1378 – 1419/ under whose rule the castle was extended (e.g. new towers were built) and the fortification system was improved. A great fire in 1422 seized almost the whole castle. It was rebuilt after Vladislav II. Jagellonský had become the Czech king. His family extended the castle and formed it into a representative late gothic seat. However, the Habsburg family did not take care of the castle and degraded it to the state prison. Tens of prisoners of all classes and faith were imprisoned there. Because of two fires in the years 1597 and 1643 Křivoklát became a ruin. In 1685 the castle was bought by the Valdštejn family and in 1733 it became the property of the Fürstenberg family thanks to a marriage. At that time Křivoklát as well as its surroundings flourished. In 1929 the Fürstenbergs sold the castle and its estate to the Czechoslovak state. Till the half of 20th century Křivoklát was expensively repaired and opened to the public as a unique monument.
On the Hamous´ farm (also called Rychta) you can see how people used to live and how they built their homes. You can find this monument of popular architecture in the village Zbečno in the Křivoklát Region. The farm is mentioned in the written sources at the turn of 16th and 17th century for the first time. It is formed by several buildings which stand around the square yard. Today, there is an exposition similar to an outdoor museum open to the public, which means that you can see not only period habitation, but also the way of life and handicrafts. The Saturday demonstration of the traditional bread preparation and bread baking will attract both children and adults.
Above the river Berounka there stands the ruin Týřov. It was built in 1st part of 13th century and belonged to the most significant Czech castles. Its story has a lot in common with the story of the castle Křivoklát. Thanks to its fortification qualities Týřov belonged to the remarkable buildings of its kind also behind the Czech borders. From the ruin there is a wonderful view of the Berounka valley. In the Křivoklát Region there are many other beautiful, interesting and remarkable places which are worth seeing. Let´s stop in Luh by Bránov, a place which is uniquely described in the stories by Ota Pavel. When you are reading his stories, you can hear the river flowing and the grass growing, and if you look at the river against the stream, you will see the sunrays dancing on the water, as if the river was singing.
Our tip: The memorial hall of the writer Ota Pavel in the ferryman´s cottage in Luh by Branov.The room in the ferryman´s cottage is devoted to the life of a writer who is inherently connected to the countryside along the Berounka River. A lot of visitors and tourists come there thanks to his stories which also became successful films. The touristic “March across Ota Pavel´s Countryside” is organized in his honour every June. It reminds the poetic places which are described in his stories.
We can only guess why is the region southwest of Rakovník called Balkán. Maybe it is because of the landscape relief which is very diverse at the first sight – there are fields, meadows and woods, or on the basis of people´s description of this diverse part of the Rakovník Region. On the Javornice Brook, which flows through this area, there are several ponds and water tanks. There are also many valuable historical monuments in this part of the region; the most visited one is the ruin of the castle Krakovec.
Krakovec, whose mighty ruin stands up on a high hillside above the junction of the Krakovský and Šípský Brooks, was built in the years 1381 – 1383 by the burgrave of Křivoklát Jíra from Roztoky. Jindřich Lefl from Lažany bought the castle and its surroundings in 1410. This knight granted asylum to Master Jan Hus there from July till October 1414. Hus´ books “Public Papers”, “Defence or The Books against the Chef” and three statements for the defence were written there. Jan Hus went from Krakovec to Kostnice (Konstanz) on 11th October, was accused of heresy there and burnt to death on 6th July 1415. The castle became the property of the Kolovrat family in 1445, since 1548 it belonged to the Lobkovitz family. At that time the castle was extensively reconstructed and a brewery was built under the castle. In 1620 the castle and the surrounding villages were burnt down by the Bavarian troops. It was repaired in 1660, when it was bought by Ota Jiří Helversen from Helversheim. The roof was repaired and tiled with red tiles and that´s why Krakovec was called the Red Castle. The castle was habitable again in 1720. In 1783 a thunder stroke into the conductor, the castle burnt up and only the bare walls remained. The mighty castle became a ruin and a stone store for the buildings in the surroundings. Today this ruin is open to the public and it is administered by the National Monument Institute. A pilgrimage is organized every year on the occasion of the anniversary of Master Jan Hus´ death. The ruin and its surroundings are very romantic and that´s why there are concerts, theatre plays and other cultural events organized during the summer months.
Another place which is worth visiting is a village southwest of Křivoklát – Skryje. In the surroundings of this village there are numerous localities of fossils, mainly trilobites. In the local school building you can visit a geologic museum and the monument of the French researcher Joachim Barrande, the founder of Czech paleontology. In the village there are numerous buildings of popular architecture, they are mainly around the village square. Another remarkable place near the village are the Skryjská Lakes on the Zbirožský Brook, which add peculiar charm to the whole region.
In the village Slabce, which is the centre of this part of the region and which belongs to the oldest villages in Balkán, there is a reconstructed castle. It gained its current look in the period from 17th till 19th century. The village uses it for the services of its inhabitants and that´s why it is not open to the public. The visitors can walk through the park which is, thanks to its area, arrangement and flora, a pleasant resting place. You can also visit the orangery with the torso of baroque statues, which stands on a hill opposite the castle.
Our tip: During your visit of Balkán, you should not forget to visit the village Pavlíkov. The Exhibition Hall of Jiří Anderle was opened in the municipal office building in 2006. This graphic designer, painter and illustrator is the most famous native of Pavlíkov. He was born in 1936, he studied painting and graphic art by the professors A. Pelc and V. Silovský. He is one of the prominent representants of Czech graphic abroad, he took part in about 200 foreign exhibitions, in which he won 40 prizes.
If we go from Rakovník to the west, we come to the Jesenice Region. The countryside is also rugged but there are more woods. When we look at it from Rakovník, we can see a range of wood hills which are 400 – 600 meters high. Thanks to its harmonious countryside the Jesenice Region became a natural park in 1994. In the centre of this park there springs the Rakovnický Brook, the longest flow of the district, on which several ponds were built in the past. The largest of them is the Large Pond (Velký rybník) near Jesenice /45,85 ha/ which was founded in 1507. On the dams of some ponds there grow memorable oaks. In this region there are several flooded quarries with rare amphibians. In local woods, which are only a small part of the woods from the past, you can find blueberries, cranberries, mushrooms and heather. These fruits of nature attract a lot of visitors to the Jesenice Region every year, the ponds are used by hundreds of holiday-makers. All these breeding ponds are owned by the state.
The habitation of the Jesenice Region by the Slavonic tribes began as late as 8. – 9. century, because there was an impassable forest everywhere. The village Jesenice, the centre of this region, got its name according to the ashes /ash is ´jasan´ in Czech/. There were two important ways going through Jesenice – one from Plzeň to Žatec, one from Cheb to Prague, and that´s why the village was the centre of trade and crafts and that´s why it became a market town in 1409.
Not far from Jesenice (only a few kilometres), there is a quarry called Bedlno. From the rocks around this flooded quarry there is a beautiful view of a countryside full of woods, ponds and wonderful nature which, thanks to its serenity and picturesqueness, attracts visitors from near and far.
On your ways through the Jesenice Region you should stop at the hunting castle St. Hubert. This architecturally interesting castle was built by the count Prokop Černín from Chudenice in the second half of 18th century. This two-storey building was built on an octagon pattern. Its windows led against the passes made in the surrounding wood, so that the hunters could comfortably watch and hunt the deer. The castle is not open to the public today.
Our tip for a trip: After your walk in the fresh air, bathing and forest fruit picking, the Jesenice Museum leads you through the history and nature of the Jesenice Region. In the exhibition hall you can see some of the actual exhibitions.
A part of the Rakovník district under the Džbán range has a melancholic impact on its visitors. Wide fields stretching through the undulating countryside and surrounding the hop gardens support this impression. If you look at Džbán from the south, you perceive it as a mountain range, although it is only exceptionally over 500 meters high. The highest peak is Džbán with its 536 meters. We can find it between the villages Hředle und Třeboc. This ecologically and culturally preserved mountain range is a protected natural park since 1994. It also goes through the districts Louny and Kladno. The aim of the Natural Park Džbán is to preserve this unique and valuable countryside. There were two educational paths built there.
On a plateau above the village Kounov there is a unique monument known as the Kounovské Stone Rows. What are these stone rows? How did they come into being and why? Archeologists, astrologers and scientists of various professions study their mystery and they are of different opinions. One of the theories says that the rows were racing courses for horses of the inhabitants living in a near-by site about 2700 years ago. According to another theory the rows served as the field marks of the hinds in 19th century. Some researchers think that the Kounovské Stone Rows could be a lunar calendar in the Stone Age. However, it is certain that there are 16 complete rows with 2500 stones which are built in the north – south direction. The longest row is 450 meters long. The distance between the first western row and the most eastern stone is 302 meters. The age and the purpose of the rows remain a mystery. Although their purpose has not been explained yet, they remain a unique creation of old generations and they are a unique monument of our district.
In the Middle Ages there were several castles and numerous fortresses built in Džbán. Two castle ruins - Pravda and Džbán - are important. The castle ruin Pravda (Truth) is situated on a forested hill between the villages Pnětluky and Domoušice. The castle was probably built on the place of a prehistoric site in 14th century, the rests of the present building come from the second half of 15th century. The castle was deserted at the end of 16th century, because it did not fulfil the demands resulting from the changed lifestyle. Almost the whole enclosure wall, the brickwork of the entrance gateway and of the palace, and the cellar by the east wall have been preserved till today. The wall fortification and the ditch, which is cut into the rock, are also significant.
There are no written notes about the castle Džbán which is also situated here. According to the research it was built in the first half of 13th century. The castle was founded on the place of an old ancient site and was built according to the French style. It was built at the same time as the Týřov castle /see the Křivoklát Region/. Only a tiny torso of the wall and of one round tower has been preserved till today. The village Krušovice also belongs to the region called Poddžbánsko. This village is famous in the whole world thanks to its brewery. The oldest written document about the Royal Brewery Krušovice comes from the year 1581. It is a property list which was written by the clerks of the Czech Crown and you can see its copy in the historical malt house in Krušovice. The brewery was the property of Czech kings till 1685 and then it was sold to Arnošt Josef from Valdštejn. According to this tradition the brewery in Krušovice started to use the trade name the Royal Brewery Krušovice in 1995.
The Czech painter Václav Rabas was born in Krušovice in 1885. In honour of this significant landscape painter there is a memorial stone in front of his native house. You can see one of his pictures by the entrance into the Hus´ School in Krušovice. This unique building is decorated outside with moral sayings and quotations, so it certainly captivates every passer-by. The stable works exposition of the most famous painter of the Rakovník Region is exhibited in the Rabas Gallery in Rakovník.
Our tip: When you travel through this part of our region, do not forget to visit the Railway Museum in the village Lužná, about 3 minutes of walking far from the railway station Lužná u Rakovníka (Lužná by Rakovník). It was founded in 1999 by the Czech Railways and there are mainly various types of steam engines, motor engines and railmotors, historical coaches and wagons. You can also see the service wagons, dining and mail wagons, a crane wagon, a rotary snow-plough and a track snow plough. The exposition also includes a narrow gauge railway which attracts both children and adults.
In the village Lány, which belonged to the Rakovník Region not a long time ago, there are several interesting places worth seeing. The castle Lány is the dominant of the village which is less than 20 kilometers far from Rakovník. The emperor Rudolf II. built a small hunting castle on the place of a medieval fortress in 1592. The castle was largely damaged during the Thirty-Year War and was rebuilt in the baroque style in 1652. The count Leopold I. pledged the Křivoklát estate including Lány to the Schwarzenberks in 1658. The castle was sold to Jan Josef from Valdštejn in 1685 and it was rebuilt for the second time – the ground floor building became a two-storied building. Valdštejn´s daughter Marie Anna, who married the count of Fürstenberk, inherited the castle and built a rococo chapel by the castle. The chapel is the Church of the Name Jesus today. The castle got another storey in the years 1821 – 1825, there were also greenhouses, a park and the office buildings founded at that time. The next storey was built in a mansard roof with domes in the corners in the years 1902 – 1903. The entrance part with a dome on the roof was built on the southern side at the same time. In July 1921 the Czechoslovak state bought Lány as the summer residence for its first president. The castle quickly became a political, social and cultural centre. T. G. Masaryk liked Lány a lot but the following presidents did not have the same relation to it. The castle came back to life in 1990s when Václav Havel became the president. The interior of the castle changed as often as its owners. Purposeful beauty has returned to the castle recently. You can visit the castle during the “Days of Open Doors” and after several decades the large castle park is open to the public four days in the week from Easter till the end of October.
Besides the beautiful castle and the park you can also visit the T. G. Masaryk Museum or the grave of the first Czechoslovak president in the local cemetery.
Our tip: If you admire old automobiles, you should visit the Museum of Sports Models in Lány. There are about 40 exhibits of roadsters and racers on an area of 900 m².