National Parks in the Czech Republic
National parks in the Czech Republic are defined as extensive territories where plants, animals and inanimate nature are of an exceptional scientific and educational significance. Currently, there are four national parks in the Czech Republic: Krkonose, Podyji, Sumava, and Bohemian Switzerland. These parks cover 1,52% of the country’s surface area. Let’s take a closer look on each one of them.
THE KRKONOŠE MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK
Krkonoše are the highest mountains in the Czech Republic. Due to their unique geographical location in the middle of Europe, the Krkonoše Mountains represent a mighty and natural barrier on the perimeter of large open plains in Germany and Poland. They are approximately 35 kilometers long and their main ridges and valleys are arranged in a direction from northwest to southeast. This significantly affects all the geographical, climatic and biological features of these European medium-sized mountains and their surroundings. Therefore, Krkonoše Mountains are a truly important area for biodiversity in Central Europe.
The Krkonoše Mountains were declared a national park in 1963. The territory is open to public. Visitors who come to Krkonoše can enjoy high mountain slopes, but also flat ridges, alpine meadows with colourful wildflowers, perfectly marked hiking trails and a beautiful landscape presented by the highest Czech mountain Sněžka.
PODYJÍ NATIONAL PARK
Podyjí National Park is located in the South Moravian Region. It is connected to the Thayatal National Park in Austria on the border. The territory was officially declared a national park in 1991. It covers an area of 63km2 and a buffer zone of 29km2. The national park lies along the Dyje River and between the towns of Znojmo and Vranov and Dyjí. It is characteristic for its unique river valley with a mosaic of rock slopes and steep walls, meanders, vast screen field and gorges, and for its alluvial plain meadowsn and sunny forest-steppes.
Podyjí National Park is home to 77 species of plants, including oak woods, beech, mulleins and pasque flowers. Eighteen kinds of orchids have been seen in the park, too. Over 152 species of birds and about 65 species of mammals have been recorded in the park. The national park is accessible to public. Visitors can explore parts of the protected area by foot, on a bike, or on a horse.
ŠUMAVA NATIONAL PARK
The Šumava Forest together with the neighboring Bavarian Forest create the most extensive forest landscape in Central Europe. The Šumava National Park is the largest national park in the Czech Republic, covering an area of 680,64 km2. It was declared a protected area in 1991.
Primeval mountain forest remnants, glacial lakes, mountain and valley raised bogs make this area a unique find of natural beauty combined with traces of secular human presence, giving this sparsely inhabited area a special magic and a touch of eeriness. Many protected species of fauna and flora in the Šumava National Park are relicts of the Ice Age. The park is open to visitors who can choose from various hiking trails, cycle-paths, ski trails and watercourses on the Vltava, Otava and Vydra rivers.
THE BOHEMIAN SWITZERLAND NATIONAL PARK
The Bohemian Switzerland National Park was established in 2000 which makes it the youngest national park in the Czech Republic. The park lies in the northwestern part of Bohemia and is linked to the Saxon Switzerland National Park in Germany. The park covers an area of nearly 80km2 on the Czech side. The focal point of the area protection is a unique sandstone rock town with the occurrence of rare plant and animal species and island of well-preserved woods.
The territory of the park is accessible to the public. You can find several footpaths, cycling roads, and also nature trails available for visitors. The most interesting places for visitors in the park are the Pravčická gate, the gorges and the valley of the river Křinice, the mountain Rosy hill, the town Vysoká Lípa, the mill Dolský mlýn, the Dittersbacher Peaks, and the mountain Vlčí hora.
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Photo source: CzechTourism