Welcome to the Rakovník region!
According to a legend neither Jan Žižka (the leader of the Hussite fighters who were feared in the whole Europe in the 15th century) nor the Swedish soldiers during the Thirty-Year-War managed to conquer the Křivoklát castle because they did not find it in the endless woods which surround it. Today the visitors of Křivoklát, one of the most important and beautiful historical sights of the Czech Republic, don´t have to be afraid of this. Křivoklát, the jewel of gothic architecture and the stage of many famous stories in European history (in the 16th century it was the jail of the English adventurer Edward Kelly called Engelender who lost his leg because of his unsuccessful run from Křivoklát and in the same century Křivoklát became the place of the secret love of the Habsburg prince Ferdinand Tyrolský and the beautiful merchant´s daughter Filipína Welser ), lies at the crossroads of touristic ways which will comfortably lead you in front of the gate of this pearl in the crown of Czech sights. Křivoklát is known thanks to many films that were shot there ( many charming Czech fairy tales but also the action film Wanted with Angelina Jolie and Morgan Freeman or the fairy tale fantasy The Grimm Brothers with Matt Damon and Monica Belluci) and is the most famous and visited place of the Rakovník region, an area of almost one thousand square kilometres and less than an hour of driving west of Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic.
The centre of the Rakovník region is the historical and industrial town Rakovník with 17 thousand inhabitants which became one of the Czech royal towns in 1588. Rakovník is famous for the Reneissance stories by the writer Zikmund Winter and for excellent beer but it is also known as a town of sights and art. When visiting this town with a red crayfish in its emblem you can climb the forty-meter-high gothic High Gate, you can see the most famous pictures by the prominent Czech modern painter Václav Rabas in the Rabas Gallery or you can visit some of the concerts of The Chamber Music Festival Rakovník bratří Burianů (Brothers Burians´ Rakovník) which is organized in honour of the natives of the Rakovník region – ´the king of opera singers´, the world-known tenorist Karel Burian and his brother Emil who was an excellent performer of Bedřich Smetana´s operas and the founder of modern Czech opera singing.
In the Rakovník region you can also see fields of unusual alleys from large, around seven meter high wooden poles which are set into the ground in regular distances of several meters and which are put together by wire netting at the top. These unusual contructions serve as pillars for growing hop, the beer spice which gives the beer its unmistakable taste. Hop has been grown there for over one hundred years and it belongs to the best hops in the world. Nowadays hop is grown on an area of around 1500 hectares which is approximately the quarter of the entire area for hop growing in the Czech Republic.
Together with hop, beer belongs to the first-class trade articles from the Rakovník region. It is cooked in Rakovník and in Krušovice whose ´jewel among Czech beers´ is imported into approximately thirty countries all around the world today. The products of local manufactures are also very successful – let´s mention the mead from Lužná or Matěj´s scented pastilles made of limewood. These products rightly hold the description ´the right thing from the Rakovník region´ which is given only to the best products of local manufactures.
The Czech Republic is said to be the country of castles and you can say this twice about the Rakovník region. Besides Křivoklát there are ruins of other exceptional castles. The gothic castle Krakovec is unique for its architecture and was the home of the significant aristocratic kin Kolovrati Krakovští and the last refuge of the church reformer and martyr Master Jan Hus in his native country before he went to Kostnice (Konstanz) in Germany where he was condemned as a heretic and burnt to death. The Jinčov castle was the smallest royal castle in Bohemia because it had only two rooms and a tower. The Týřov castle was one of the first castles in central Europe which was built according to the impregnable French castles in the 13. century.
Considering the fact that you can travel through this region on the thoroughfare I/6 from Prague to Karlovy Vary in only twenty minutes, it is almost unbelievable how many ´mosts´ you can find there: the most mysterious place of the Czech Republic – up to hundreds of meters long ancient stone rows near Kounov which are similar to the megalithic sites in France and England, the biggest railway museum of the Czech Republic in Lužná near Rakovník with a rich collection of steam engines, the world´s most famous locality of the fossils of prehistoric sea creatures called ´trilobiti´ which the French researcher Joachim Barrande uncovered in the surroundings of the village Skryje in the first half of the 19. century, the most beautiful memorable beech near Mšecké Žehrovice or the museum exposition ´The Celts in the Rakovník Region´ with the world famous head of a Celtic druid from arenaceous marl which comes from the third century BC and which was found in this region in 1943. A two hundred thousand year old hand-axe was found in Mutějovice which means that one of the oldest proofs of the life of human beings was also found in the Rakovník region.
The best way how to sum up your experinces from the Rakovník region is with a glass of beer from Rakovník which is according to a Reneissance verse as unique as one pope in Rome, one tower in Cremona and one port in Ancona or you can relax on a canoe trip across the Protected Landscape Area Křivoklátsko (most of it belongs to the most valuable nature areas of Europe NATURA 2000) on the Berounka river, the beloved river of the writer Ota Pavel, the author of beautiful collections of stories “How I Met the Fish“ and “The Death of the Beautiful Deer“ which were translated into several world languages. You can also walk through the mysterious countryside of the Jesenice region where the great Czech poet Jaroslav Vrchlický said: “My song goes silent here!“ or through the Křivoklát´s woods about which one traveller´s guide writes that they hide such beautiful nooks that the stage painters should copy them on their properties and the makers of the film Tristan and Isolde even said that they had looked for places to shoot the film all around Europe but they had found the most beautiful forests around Křivoklát.
This is the Rakovník region, the region of so many interesting places that you will not know where to start.