The landscape of the Český Ráj (Bohemian Paradise), full of mysterious ruins, picturesque nooks and spectacular natural phenomena, shaped the mind of the young Pekař from his childhood. Later, as a respected Professor at Charles University, he remembered endless walks around Turnov that fired his vivid imagination. He wondered how people had lived in the times when the ruins were still castles and when the forests grew where the cleared terrain was cut through by the railway line. Already as a grammar school student in Mladá Boleslav, he published his first articles dedicated to castles in his neighbourhood.
All his life he enjoyed returning to his native region, often also taking his colleagues and friends to walk through the countryside. He especially liked walking around the spa in Sedmihorky, which he dedicated much time to. However, his roamings around the medieval Kost castle, about which he eventually wrote one of his most important and famous books, were paramount.
“The eye likes to rest on the picturesque appearance of castles, and the spirit involuntarily flies to ages long past, into the fairy tale of knighthood, when it was bustling in the castle spaces, when courage and strength reigned there.” Josef Pekař, 1889
The Český Raj (Bohemian Paradise) has always attracted people with its natural attributes, but in the Middle Ages it was also known as the treasury of Czech jewellers and stonecutters because of the numerous deposits of precious stones. Among these, Kozákof – a mysterious mountain that is an important landmark for the whole region and which owes its fame to the rich finds of precious stones hidden inside and around it – attracted the most attention.
The origin of Kozákov is related to the recurring volcanic activity and the movement of the Earth's crust along the significant faults. It was the volcanic activity and the powerful lava flows that brought Kozákov the gift of mineral wealth. The oldest volcanic event took place 298-280 million years ago in the period called the Permian. During this time, melaphyre lava flowed to the surface, in whose cavities and fissures brightly coloured jaspers, agates and quartz varieties (especially violet amethyst and colourless crystal) were formed, as well as other precious minerals, such as zeolites.
The volcano of Kozákov came to life for the second and last time only 5 million years ago. Very liquid basalt lava flowed down to Železný Brod and Semily and filled the valley of the then Jizera. It also brought to the surface from the depths of the Earth another highly-prized gemstone. Enclosed in basalt are pieces of the Earth’s mantle that are largely made up of rough nuggets of light green olivine, which are suitable for processing into jewellery.
We are standing by the small pool of Bezednice, which is a very interesting geological creation. According to legend, it has no bottom and in the past a knight and his horse drowned here. But in reality, beneath a thin layer of sand a solid stone floor is found, and through the cracks in the floor a spring flows. Lighter material and swirling sand floats above the spring.
If we continued up the valley of the Vazovec stream, along the blue-marked hiking trail, after less than 3 km we would reach a small reservoir with a low entrance to a cave above it, out of which water flows. It is a spring cave called Bartošova pec (Bartoš’s oven), and consists of a single horizontal passage 225 m long. The water flows the entire length of the cave and out into the artificial reservoir. In the surroundings of Ondříkovice we can find other geological phenomena typical of karst areas, such as blind and half-blind valleys, ponors and huge sinks, whose origins, as with other manifestations in Cretaceous (sandstone) sediments, used to be considered pseudo-karstic. According to the latest research however, cavities were created in the fissures, which expanded through the dissolution of calcareous sandstones to sandy limestone. For this reason, it is not pseudo-karst, but one of the best developed karst areas in Bohemia. The original name of the whole natural monument Ondříkovický pseudokrasový systém (Ondříkovice pseudo-karstic system) is therefore inaccurate.
Map of Josef Pekař´s Thematic Trail by Jiří Lode (2020)
Josef Pekař remarked on the edge of this photograph: "Trip with the club, Trosky on July 9, 1923"
The mysterious corners of the ruins of Wallenstein awaken the romantic soul today, as well as at the end of the 19th century with Josef Pekař
Josef Pekař with Jaroslav Goll on a journey through the Austrian Alps (Glocknerhaus, 1901)
Work in the Votrubec's quarry in Kozákov (1930s)
Votrubec's quarry in Kozákov (2019)
Bartoš's spring (2019)
Dolánky near Turnov, Hrubý Rohozec chateau in the background
Agate (21.5 × 13.5 cm) from Kozákov, collection of the Museum of Bohemian Paradise in Turnov