Do you want to retreat from the bustle of the modern world, at least for a day, and find refuge somewhere where time passes pleasantly slow? Come discover Kokořínsko – beautiful region not far from Prague where you will find bizarre sandstone rocks, crystal-clear lakes, deep forests and one of the most romantic of all Czech castles.

A romantic silhouette towering over the region and also, in its time, one of the “cursed castles”. This is Kokořín Castle, standing on a sandstone cliff above the romantic valley of Kokořínský důl. When you walk in the shadow of its cylindrical tower, it is hard to believe that you are standing on what was once the bottom of a Mesozoic sea. You can put your detective skills in action to search for its remains, which are still apparent today.

On a tour of the castle you will gradually discover its turbulent history. After being plundered during the Thirty Years War, it was deemed by Austrian Emperor Ferdinand to be one of the “cursed castles”, which were forbidden to be repaired. This designation may also have had something to do with its favourable placement, which posed a threat to royal power.

Due to its location, the castle often became a sanctuary for robber knights, who long menaced the surrounding areas. Definitely do not forget to climb the cylindrical castle tower, which will give you a magnificent view of all of Kokořínsko.

Mysterious castles full of legends

Do you like mysterious places infused with a special energy? Then do not miss a tour of Houska Castle. It is said about the castle that it stands above a hole leading to hell, which is guarded by a terrible black monk without a face. Another peculiarity is the rock that permeates the whole castle and which you can see both outside and inside.

Also surrounded by legends is one of the grandest Czech castles, Bezděz, which thanks to its location on the top of a high hill is one of the dominant features of the landscape far and wide. It is even said that the castle has buried treasure, hidden by monks. That the castle has a special energy is evidenced by the fact that Karel Hynek Macha, the most famous Czech Romantic poet and one of the symbols of the region, came here for inspiration.

A maze leading to Tutankhamen

Kokořínsko is not just an area packed with architectural treasures, it is above all a place where you will find stunning scenery ideal for exploring. Along many kilometres of marked trails you can walk the narrow paths between rock walls and put your imagination to work identifying the bizarre shapes of rock formations.

Among the most beautiful spots are the rocky narrows near the crossroads at Hájovna, where you will wander among rocks towering high above your head. If you are a romantic spirit, do not miss the sunset view on the rocks above the look-out point, which is an ideal place to watch it. It is a thrilling experience to follow the path through the maze, during which you have to clear several metres of steep rocks. But you will be rewarded with not only a great feeling of accomplishment but also with a view of the local Tutankhamen rock.

Peek under the lid of Kokořínsko!

Murmuring forests, divine tranquillity, colourful leaves, and rocks at every step. This is the Cinibulkova stezka, a trail where you can delve into the harmonious world of the local fauna and flora. The Czech Mount Rushmore: With a bit of exaggeration we can apply this moniker to the Čertova hlava (Devil’s Head) rock above the village of Želízy. Once you climb up here, awaiting you are two large rock reliefs recalling heads of fairy tale beings, specifically of residents of hell.

Do you like distant views of the countryside? If so, lace up some proper hiking shoes and head out to the Romanov or Čápská police (meaning Stork’s Head) look-out points, where a wonderful vista of Kokořínsko will open up before your eyes.

A visit to Kokořínsko would not be complete without a look at the local symbol, the so-called pot lids. As their name suggests, they may make you feel as though you are in a giant kitchen. The lids were formed by weathering of the local limestone, and their shape is reminiscent of pot lids placed on top of columns up to 12 metres high. Make sure you thoroughly take in the view: Within a few years they may no longer be here due to erosion.

Do you like wine? Then set off to nearby Mělník! In this historical city located at the confluence of the Vltava and Elbe rivers you can taste the best that the local vineyards have to offer.