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The Šumava

The Šumava lies in the south-west of Czech Republic and borders Bavaria and Austria, adjoins Bayerischer Wald (the Bavarian Forest) and forms the largest wooded area in Central Europe. Because of its extensive water sources, rich fauna and flora and clean air it is often referred to as ”the green roof of Europe”. In 1991, part of the Šumava, an area of 69,030 hectares, was declared a National Park, the largest of the four National Parks in the country. Its most valuable parts are classified Zone I, and as such left completely undisturbed to natural developments without man’s interference. A charac­teristic feature of the Šumava is extensive highland swamps with typical peat vegetation and dwarf mountain pine growths giving rise to scores of streams. There also are several glacial lakes, the only ones on the ter­ritory of Czech Republic.

   Enthusiastic reports of some visitors express the view that the Šumava is a small paradise on earth that needs be seen to be believed. Come and listen to the mysterious murmur of the woods, see and feel the soothing fairy-story winter and the incredible varieties of green in late spring, experience the cool valleys and refreshing breath of the mountain streams and marshlands in the hottest summer, the melancholy, rich colours and creeping fogs of early autumn, and the late-autumn and early-winter inversions when the mountain tops bathe in warm sunshine. And all of this whilst the inland regions are covered by a dense layer of frosty fogs. Scan the array of nameless woody ranges and pick up the unmistakable skylines of the peaks of Boubín, Oblík, Poledník and Ostrý in Bohemia, and Roklan, Luzný and Gross Arber in Bavaria, the highest mountain in both the Šumava and the Bavarian Forest. Take a walk along the path following the winding Vydra river with its huge hollowed-out granite boulders; from a train window enjoy views of the deep valley of the Úhlava river at Brčálník with Jezerní hora looming on the horizon; stop for a while before Bílá strž, the largest waterfall in the Šumava, and then maybe take time out to read the short stories and novels by Karel Klostermann depicting the hard life of the people in the remote mountain regions, and pay homage to our ancestors who loved these cruel mountains as much as we do.

    A hot issue at present is the fate of the ”dead forest” in both the Šumava and Bayerischer Wald where bark beetle caused the death of thousands of conifer­ous trees in large tracts of the highlands. In Zone I areas the dead forest is left as it is, to allow the natural mixture of leafy and coniferous trees to replace the original all-spruce woods. Through this process the natural forest will return to areas exploited by man for centuries.

   In the Šumava you can visit towns of rich mining, iron-making, glass-making and wood-working traditions. The largest tourist centre of today is Železná Ruda noted for its church of St Mary the Helper with unusual onion-shaped cupola. The mining traditions of Kašperské Hory are remembered through an open-air museum with exhibits documenting gold-ore mining and processing. Remnants of numerous medieval mines can still be seen in the vicinity of the town.

   The village of Dobrá Voda near another old mining town Hartmanice boasts a renovated and newly consecrated church with an all-glass altar and Way of the Cross designed by the lo­cal artist Vladimíra Tesařová. There is also the Dr Šimon Adler museum of Jewish heritage. Other popular tourist centres are in Rejštejn, Horská Kvilda, Modrava, Srní and Prášily.

   The altar in the Dobrá Voda church recalls 600 years’ history of glass making in the Šumava, Brdy and Český les (the Bohemian Forest). The products of local glass works including rosary beads, vases, sheet glass as well as a wide range of decorative glass products and artefacts for everyday use, used to be exported to many countries of the world. Of the more than 160 glass works in the Šumava only few survive to date. The best known of the remaining works is the glass-cutting shop in Annín. Now few people realise that the word Huť (mill) in many place names originated in the glass-making period.

    There are many museums in the Šumava which exhibit glass products and historic artefacts associated with glass production. One example is the museum in Kašperské Hory where a collection of beautiful original products of the Klášterský Mlýn glass works can be seen. However the glass-making tradition is more alive in neighbouring Bavaria, where some works are open for tourists who can admire the skills of the local glass makers.

Last edited by: Beránek Filip (30.06.2010)

 

 


 

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