Largest natural bridge in Europe

Published: July 6th 2005
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The Czech Natural BridgeThe Czech Natural BridgeThe Czech Natural Bridge

The largest natural bridge in Europe.
Climbing on up the mountain we finally reached the top of the mountain where the largest natural bridge in Europe stands. Below and at one end of the bridge an old hotel still operates as a restaurant, but accepts no overnight guests. The employees have to hike in each day to their job. All supplies for the restaurant are brought up the mountain in a small cable car. The cable car is not large enough to carry any passengers. In fact, when I saw it in operation I think I would call it the cable bucket. The motor is tiny and the supplies come up a little at a time.

The natural bridge is at least fifty to sixty feet high and I would guess at least one hundred feet across. No one is allowed to walk on the bridge now, though that was possible in the past. We could see where an old walking bridge led to the top of the stone bridge. The flooring has been removed which, to me anyway, would be quite a discouragement if I had any thoughts of walking across the bridge.

There is a path giving access to the top of the mountain. To me this area could be called the Czech Grand Canyon, as there are long, long vertical drops off the side of the path. Fortunately there are sturdy railings, so the paths are quite safe.

I tried to imagine how, long ago, a river ran through the arch of the natural bridge and how through the eons of time the water has eroded the soft sandstone leaving behind the bridge and beautiful cliffs and standing formations. Given time water wears away the hardest stone.

[Nancy-now that we are home I have some time to add to these ramblings of Bill's-The hike up the mountain was so gradual and so easy that anyone could make it. We really enjoyed the walk after the first few yards. At the very first part of the path the rocks in the path were sort of difficult footing but soon the path became sandy from all the erosion of sandstone down through the ages. There were no steep portions of the trail on the way up but rather a slow upward grade. We were quite suprised since some of our friends had described this as a steep path. Perhaps they had gone up the opposite direction which turned out to be STEEP. We were constantly awed by the enormous rocks in the woods beside the path. The hills were quite steep going up from the path and heavily wooded with boulders the size of cars, trucks, houses, etc. among them. There were wild flowers all over the place from tiny things up to enormous foxgloves. I kept saying Look at that, look at this, oh my goodness see what is over here. I wanted to walk very very slowly and drink in each thing but we had 15 kilometers or more to walk so Bill sort of pulled me along. The wonderful cave where prehistoric people had lived was a very short hike off the main trail. I am so glad we walked to each special point. It was a cloudy, cool day with no humidity. Who could ask for better walking conditions? We didn't feel cold, we didn't sweat, we just walked along in fairytale land. At the top we paid a small fee to walk on the higher paths, bridges, etc. to the various points above the bridge. They were all safe and even a scardy cat like I am had no trouble with climbing all over everything. The Czechs have made careful arrangements on all the steep places to have good railings and good footing so no one need hold back on enjoying this place to the fullest. I would recommend this as a side trip to any walkers who visit Prague. It is a good two day side trip. You can ride on the local busses for only a few dollars- It cost us less than $10.00 for transportation to and from the national park. Imagine! About 100 miles for $10.00. Who can beat that? The accommodations were quite comfortable. The food was abundant in the restaurants (but don't be dumb like we were and leave your Czech phrase book at home unless you can speak German). We ordered without knowing what we were ordering for our evening meal and had a feast. My plate was the size of a serving platter and was full from one end to the other with food. I had chicken and apparently I looked like I needed two pieces. So there were two chicken breasts, piles of potatoes and vegetables and a 'garnish'-which really means a small salad on the side of the plate. Bill ordered something else and had one chicken breast, one slice of ham and one pork steak plus veggies, garnish, etc. We saved one chicken breast and one pork steak added them to the half loaf of bread in the morning meal and had a picnic to carry with us for lunch on the hike. A phrase book would have helped us know what we were ordering but nothing could have prepared us for the quantity of the food. Though everyone was bilingual in German and Czech our waitress knew only 'ham and eggs'-which explains how we got 4 pieces of ham and three eggs plus a basket of bread and rolls, jelly, honey, butter coffee, tea and orange juice free with our room for breakfast. Czech citizens are so helpful and pleasant and eager to please that the lack of German on our part and English on their part made virtually no difference. We were obviously welcome in any language or lack of language. This town and the park and the hiking around it are worth your time and your small investment of money.

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17th July 2006

Living in Bohemia
Bill and Nancy have described one beautiful area of the Czech Republic. My husband and I laugh when people tell us they have been to the CR but never left Prague. It is a wonderful country ful of interesting towns, beautiful nature and most of all, wonderful people. Between this national park and Prague, lies the town of Litomerice where we lived for a year and have returned to visit. If you go, be sure to stop and visit. You will find the people welcoming.

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