kamila

Can’t live without travels! Wherever she goes she always looks for alternative spots or street art. A huge fan of Central Europe and off the beaten path places and a living proof that you can balance full time job and extensive travel!

Jeseniky Mountains: witches, spa towns and other attractions

After a really great road trip through the Polish-Czech border last year I was really excited to visit my friends in the north Czech Republic again. I knew we will go exploring their region and I was looking forward so much to see what they will show me this time! It’s funny, everyone goes to Prague, I also focused mostly on the cities in my countless visits in Czech Republic yet the country has so much to offer and in many cases these are some unusual and quirky attractions. Last year we discovered abandoned churches and uneasy history of Sudeten German people. This trip was all about witches and spa in Jeseniky mountains!


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Jeseniky mountains

As a big fan of the Czech cinema I’ve downloaded few weeks ago Czech Film Trips application for my mobile phone as I figured with my numerous trips there it can come by really handy. Last year in Prague I’ve randomly found places in Zizkov where “Vratne lahve” where filmed and I thought it’s such a nice way to see a place, following the movie I watched and enjoyed. When I was on my train from Cesky Tesin to Zabreh I was browsing the app and saw there’re some film locations listed in Jeseniky mountains too! They were from the 1969 movie “Witches’ Hammer”. Back then I haven’t watched that one (I’ve already caught up) but the plot sound pretty interesting that I knew I will want to visit places from the movie as well! And since the app works with the Google map we found them easily.

Czech Film Trips app

“Witches’ Hammer” is based on the book with the same title – both tell the story of hunting, torturing and burning innocent people who were suspected for being under the devil’s spell. Sadly, this was not the fiction. At the end of the 17th century hundreds of women died in flames, accused of being witches. The first one, Marina Schuchova, was detained and burnt in May 1678. This beggar woman went for the Sunday mass to the church in Sobotin where she stole the Host in order to give it to the neighbour whose cow didn’t want to give milk, a superstition said this should help the animal. Her story was just the beginning of the dark years in history of Jeseniky mountains and now Marina Schuchova is known as the symbol of innocence and unnecessary tragedy. Women after women were forced by cruel tortures to admit that yes, they were going to the coven, flying on the cows, goats or simply on the brooms and mated with the devil itself. Thousands of people were coming to witness a “grand theatre” where these witches were murdered in the cruel way, most of them were secretly praying no one will say their name during the tortures so they won’t be the next ones in line…

Sobotin church stone

We started our road trip in Sobotin but before we headed to the church where it all started we stopped by in the small park on the side of the road where beautiful tomb was hidden. It was designed in the Renaissance style by the architect from Vienna – Wenzel Baumheyer – and built at the end of 19th century for the wealthy Klein family. Altogether 12 family members rested in the mausoleum. These days however, the tomb is not in the best shape but its beauty is still undeniable. I really like visiting cemeteries but I haven’t seen many of such incredible tombs, and together with the isolated park and a lovely view to the surrounding mountains it really made a perfect resting place, almost like from the movies.

When we arrived to the church we were welcomed by a nice older man who has worked most of his life as a local church official. He told us the story of the place, including the infamous witch issues and a more recent war crimes, as well as guided us around. The memorial stone reminds all visitors that this was the place where it all began in 1678 and I must say that knowing the story I felt kind of weird when wandering around the church and its grounds. Such an unobtrusive building was a silent witness of such a tragic history… The movie itself wasn’t filmed here, St. James the Greater church near Prague played Sobotin’s St. Lawrence’s church but still the village is well worth a visit!

Couple of kilometers further, in a small village Marsikov, a true gem can be found. St. Michael’s church, built in 1609 in the Renaissance style with later baroque and rococo changes, definitely gave me a “wow” moment that doesn’t happen very often during my travels. It’s all wooden and so beautiful! The interior remained unchanged for years, even the somehow dusty smell gives the idea how old this place is. These days the mass are very rarely held here and the church is often closed but the nice man next door has the key and will gladly open the building and show you around! And belive me, you want to see this church inside!

Our next stop was in Velke Losiny – one of the oldest villages in the area, known for its spa facilities and again, for the infamous witches trials. Here, in the chateau from the 16th century, a cruel inquisitor Heinrich Franz Boblig von Edelstadt worked, interrogated, tortured and doomed innocent women. This place appears in the “Witches’ hammer” movie, playing itself and showing how cruel and tragic things happened there. When looking at the beautiful chateau and wandering its green grounds it’s hard to believe that this idyllic spot was the stage to some of the darkest moments in the history of Jeseniky mountains…

After the heavy morning with witches we headed to Jesenik for some more relaxing time, on the way stopping at yet another beautiful castle in Loucna nad Desnou. It’s incredible how many interesting places are in such a small area of Jeseniky mountains, every village has something worth visiting! After lunch in Jesenik we climbed up the mountains above the town for some spa treatment. In the beautiful nature surroundings a Priessnitz Medical Spa can be found – the oldest hydrotherapy spa in the world. A local self-taught men – Vincenz Priessnitz – has found out that cold water can be a great help when dealing with some diseases and based his whole treatment on that. At first he was accused of quackery but since he was using nothing but water he was not convicted. Soon after his spa has become a huge success! These days everyone can enter the premises where couple of pools with cold water can be found. You can sit with your legs dipped, walk around in the freezing pond or dip your arms in yet another tank. It looked so funny when all these people were dogging after each other in knee-high water but I stopped laughing the moment I tried some of this treatment on myself. In a hot day like that it was a pure blessing, even if I didn’t manage to stay there too long! Oh, and the quirky fact: Polish word “prysznic” (a shower) comes from Vincenz Priessnitz!

I really could have stayed in Priessnitz Spa all day long, just relaxing, but we had one more place to visit on that day – and it was another spa town! Karlova Studanka is second smallest town in Czech Republic and just so pretty! It’s surrounded by green mountains and the 19th century architecture along the main street is all wooden, giving the place an unique and charming look. It is said that Karlova Studanka has one of the cleanest air in Central Europe and I honestly wouldn’t be surprised. Sitting in the old-fashioned pavillion and drinking coffee (I’ll dissemble its quality…), walking down the main street and sipping therapeutic water right from the fountain was a perfect ending of this road trip around Jeseniky mountains.

From there we just headed to the cottage in the middle of the forest for the bonfire (I haven’t had one for years!), late night conversations and watching falling stars… One more time I could unveil northern Czech Republic and be surprised with it. This area is so close and is so interesting yet it remains so undiscovered! I really hope to revisit it soon again to explore some more and be enchanted one more time! And this is how our road trip looks like on the map:

And for everyone planning a trip to Czech Republic, no matter if to Prague or somewhere else, I strongly recommend you downloading a free Czech Film Trips application from either Google Play or iTunes store! Numerous Czech movies are listed there, with locations, map, background and short videos. It really can help you with sightseeing and you can find some unusual places that way!

Would you like to visit Jeseniky mountains? Have you heard about burning witches in Czech Republic before? And do you like spa towns?

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26 Lip '15

There are 29 Comments.

  1. Looks promising!

  2. Swojskie, cesarsko-królewskie klimaty! :)

  3. Looking for places where different movies were filmed is a very addictive experience ;) Soon you’ll find yourself planning the journey with the help of IMDB ;)

  4. Bardzo myślę intensywnie o takich wakacjach właśnie relaksowo trochę pieszych, zdrojowych i spaowych.

  5. Ale urocza architektura! :)

  6. A u góry jeszcze piękniej. I wyjechać wysoko można.. ;)

  7. Ta aplikacja to chyba lepsza niż przewodnik!

  8. Aw it looks so peaceful! Definitely adding it to my Europe list!

  9. I love discovering new towns, and this seems like a good one!

  10. When I was a kid my father took me for a trip do Czech Republic. We were living in small hotels with pools and having great fun. I would love to come back there. Also to feel the climate of Kundera’s book.
    Magdalena latest post…Włochy, Wenecja Euganejska: Przewodnik po Portogruaro i Concordii.My Profile

    • kami
      21:33 03/08/2015

      Do you remember where you went as a kid? Czech Republic is really great and has so much to offer! I really hope you will return there soon!

  11. Wow, I wouldn’t expect to stumble upon that topic on a travel blog – what a nice surprise! “Witches’ Hammer” is one of the best movies of the genre – technically flawless and historically accurate. I read a lot about the original witchhunt, and the movie perfectly describes the terror of those events.
    Darek – Przedeptane.pl latest post…Kino australijskie: Filmy biograficzne i historyczneMy Profile

    • kami
      21:48 03/08/2015

      well, I like writing about not so obvious and difficult things! I really enjoyed the movie, even if it was a really heavy one, and now I want to get to know more about the issue!

  12. Wow, wow! St. Michael’s church is AMAZING! How it managed to survive all this years? Incredible. I was surprised by the ceiling – so low and almost not ornamented at all. I’m trying to figure out the smell you’re talking about. Probably the mix of dust, old wood and some wood preservatives like oils?
    I love such old, folk places <3
    Ibazela | Love Traveling latest post…50 Stunning Photos of GreeceMy Profile

    • kami
      21:51 03/08/2015

      yeah, that’s exactly how it smelled! I think you’d love north Czech Republic, so many hidden gems like this are there!!

  13. Wow, looks really good! I’ve never heard about witches in Czech, thanks for broading my knowledge! :) And this is so close to my place! I should visit that region one day! Also, I find traveling on a “movies trail” more and more tempting… ;)
    Koralina latest post…Trolltunga – trekking w NorwegiiMy Profile

    • kami
      21:55 03/08/2015

      you definitely should go there, even for a day trip like I did! It’s really not that far away and the place is really incredible! And the movie app is really cool, it helped me with sightseeing big time!

  14. Recipe for a good day:
    – a little bit of witch hunting (or maybe looking for traces of history of witches in the neighbourhood)
    – a pinch of trekking in beautiful forests
    – a spoon of relaxing afternoon spa-time
    – decorate with Czech pilsener (or 7 of them) just before bedtime ;)

  15. I visited Czech Republic only a few times (mainly Prague and Ceski Tesyn), and I think I really need to visit it again, more profoundly this time! I really like your post, I love all those tiny cities, Karlova Studanka looks like a place where I could totally relax! Also, I really like the idea of the Czech Film Trips application, I’ll definitely check it out if I go to Czech Republic again :)
    Antonina latest post…Wakacje na Malcie – dzień 4: Comino, Blue Lagoon, Paradise BayMy Profile

    • kami
      22:05 03/08/2015

      you definitely should return! Even if Prague and Cieszyn are among my all time favourite places I can tell Czech Republic has so much to offer! and Karlova Studanka is definitely one of them! I wouldn’t mind returning there and just relax for few days in this beautiful surroundings! And I definitely recommend the film app, makes the whole exploring so much funnier!

  16. Such a nice trip but still I have to write it, I wouldn’t call Malleus Maleficarum just a book! It was a written permision to kill, sadly. I gotta see this movie, ’cause I am sure i’d love it and I gotta but this Velke Losiny on my list cos as I see it’s worth it!
    sekulada.com latest post…Metz – Smok i Mirabelki (Francja)My Profile

    • kami
      22:06 03/08/2015

      Sadly I don’t know much about the topic (yet) but after seeing this movie I really want to learn more, it’s fascinating how the world worked all these years ago! and yes, definitely go to Velke Losiny when you’re in the area!!

  17. Czech film application – must-have, must-try for us next time! How come I didn’t hear about it anything? We will check it and put on our application list – definitely! p.s. Fantastic place!
    Tatiana latest post…Okroszka – rosyjski chłodnikMy Profile

    • kami
      22:07 03/08/2015

      I think it’s a pretty new app, but so cool! you’d love it for sure! better download it right away :)

  18. I truly believe that every country has more to offer than cities. And Czech Republic is not an exeption :)
    Nadia vs. the World latest post…Najlepsze, lekkie, uniwersalne buty w każdą podróżMy Profile

  19. Oh, I know these places very good! As a child I used to spent my summer holidays in Pokrzywna (Góry Opawskie)… Jesenik and Karlova Studanka were our favourite destinations for day trips. Last year I’ve discovered another SPA in this area, Velke Losiny and I think there is still much to explore…
    Epepa latest post…Sumartin, an underrated place in CroatiaMy Profile

    • kami
      22:41 18/03/2016

      We were in Velke Losiny too! This area is really interesting and hides so many gems, I wish I could explore it better! It really feels off the path and so underrated! I bet it was amazing to spend summer holidays in this area!

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