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Moravian karst and surroundings
With a considerable amount of exaggeration it can be said that the Moravian Kart has the greatest density of speleologists per square metre in all of Europe. Why? Because it is one of the most fascinating karst regions in Central Europe with over 1100 caves, five of which are accessible to the public. Another one of its major attractions is the deepest gorge in the Czech Republic, Macocha (138,5 metres). Even for those who find the underground world far from lovely, the Moravian Karst region and its environs are ideal for a holiday. In spring, autumn and summer the region attracts tourists with its romantic landscape. A dense network of clearly marked trails runs around mighty castles, fairy tale-like chateaux, windmills and rugged rocks. When the snow falls, thousands of cross-country skiers come here to take on Mother Winter (Paní Zima) and test their physical limits…
The heart of this region is the protected landscape area of the Moravian Karst, which is situated north of the city of Brno. This natural wonder consists of karstified Devonian calcite that creates enchanting scenery both on the Earth’s surface and deep underground. There are also hundreds of caves that were populated by Neanderthal man 120 thousand years ago. The oldest footprints of our ancestors were discovered in the Kůlna Caves. In the Pekárna Caves, archaeologists unearthed drawings dating back 13 thousand years. Most of them are of animals.
A fleeting glimpse into the less distant past reveals that the Moravian Karst and its environs were the ironworks of the Bohemian and Moravian lands in the Middle Ages. You can find reminders of this period along the Iron (Železa) hiking trail and at Blanensky Chateau, where there is an exposition devoted to metallurgy.
In addition to this, the Moravian Karst offers many different options for tourists. The local climate and clean countryside is perfect for sporting activities, such as hiking, cycling, horseback riding and sport fishing, and is ideal for simply relaxing by the water.
The Moravian Karst is interlaced with a dense network of well-marked hiking paths that range from easy to difficult. A map with all the trails is available at regional information centres, enabling tourists to find the trail that best suits their wishes and abilities. One of the region’s special features is the Iron Trail Project (Projekt Cesta Železa). It is connected to a pan-European network of paths that document the history of European ironmongering. You can follow five educational trails to see all the significant ironworks in the Moravian Karst region.
The Moravian Karst has conditions that are as favourable for cyclists as they are for hikers. Bike paths run through every important site in the region and part of their charm is the fact that even weekend cyclists can manage them without difficulty. Trail number 507 is a particularly charming bike path; it is 52 kilometres long and its route comprises Ostrov u Macochy - Jedovnice - Bukovinka - Rousínov – Kepkov. One of the least demanding paths is trail number 5085. It is nine kilometres long and its route is Rájec-Jestřebí - Karolín - Petrovice – Sloup.
Macocha Gorge and publicly accessible caves
One of the Moravian Karst’s most magnetic tourist attractions is the Macocha Gorge (Stepmother Gorge). There are two observation decks on its upper periphery from which you can get an ideal view into the depths of the earth. Of the area’s cave complexes, five are publicly accessible – Balcarka (a wealth of stalactites and stalagmites), Kateřinská (unique bamboo-like stalagmites), the Sloupsko-šošůvské Caves, Výpustek Cave and the Punkva Caves. An excursion through the Punkev Caves offers visitors the opportunity to swim in Punkva’s underground streamlets and tour the bottom of Macocha.
The Moravian Karst offers innumerable opportunities to swim, however it is always important to respect local regulations. The Olšovec Pond is a popular location; it is the site of a large camp and every year an international motorboat race is held here.