Bohemian Switzerland National Park

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Pravčice Gate, Symbol of the Bohemian SwitzerlandThe territory of the Bohemian Switzerland National Park – the youngest of the Czech Republic’s four national parks – forms a part of the larger territory of the Elbe Sandstones, which has been called Czech and Saxon Switzerland for nearly two centuries. A part of the credit for this romantic name goes to Adrian Zingg and Anton Graff, two Swiss painters and teacher at the Dresden Academy in the mid-18th century. They travelled along the Elbe to visit places between Pirna and Hřensko, and their paintings became the basis of the local veduta works and for the promotion of the beauties of nature. Starting in the second half of the 19th century, the area became very popular, which was supported by the owners of the land, the Kinský and Clary-Aldringen families, by making accessible to tourists the most interesting locations such as the Kamenice River Canyon, Pravčice Gate(Pravčická brána) or the lookouts near Jetřichovice.The Kamenice Gorge

The romantic attraction of the landscape resulted in the establishment of the oldest mountaineering associations in the country – the Mountaineering Association for Bohemian Switzerland (1878) and the Mountaineering Association for Northernmost Bohemia (1885).

The efforts to ensure statutory protection of Bohemian Switzerland date back to the early 1900s, but the Elbe Sandstones area was awarded consistent protection as late as 1972 by the declaration of the Elbe Sandstones Protected Landscape Area. Twenty-eight years later, the most valuable part of the PLA was granted the highest protection level by becoming a national park.

The Bohemian Switzerland National Park was declared with effect from 01/01/2000 and has an area of 79 km², 97 % of which is covered by forests. The National Park Administration is based in Krásná Lípa. The main object of protection in the Bohemian Switzerland National Park is the unique geomorphology of the rock city and the related diversity of plant and animal species. The landscape is characterised by numerous ledges, canyons, sandstone towers and table rocks rising over the vast sea of forests, which will literally amaze a perceptive visitor.Pygmy Owl

The landscape of the Bohemian chalkstone plate is enriched by Tertiary volcanic formations dominated by the highest peak of the Bohemian Switzerland National Park -Růžovský vrch (619 m, natural nature preserve) with virgin forest ecosystems. On the contrary, the Elbe Canyon (Kaňon Labe) in Hřensko is the lowest point of the Czech Republic (114 m).

The original natural forests have been preserved on the inaccessible cliffs; the rare animal species include the garden dormouse, peregrine falcon, black stork, lynx or insect species unknown elsewhere; the rare vascular plants include the typical marsh tea, crowberry, twoflower violet or claspleaf twistedtalk. Also characteristic is an abundance of fernwort, with the typical species being the deer fern. The non-vascular plants include a number of moss plants and rare fungi. The typical phenomenon is climatic inversion, in which cold air streams down to the bottom of the gorges and the altitudinal vegetationCross at the Křížový Hillzones are reversed. As a consequence, subalpine and alpine animal and plant species occur at altitudes of around 150 metres.

The unusual harmony of nature is complemented by the numerous structures of vernacular architecture consisting of timbered and semi-timbered houses and situated in the villages along the perimeter of the National Park.