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Exploring Places: Trosky Castle

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This piece of traveling writing begins with a warning: if going on a trip to a castle, be careful with bicycles. Be careful with bicycles if you’ve never ridden one or haven’t ridden one in ages. Be careful with bicycles if you’ve never experienced riding one on a highway. Be careful with bicycles if you’ve never sat on an electric bike before. Be careful with bicycles. And if, while reading this, you have, in your mind, ticked at least one of the above-mentioned “nevers”, better stay away from the bicycle and travel on foot. Trust my experience, it will save you time – and health.

Experienced cyclists can skip this brief introduction.

Part 1.

There are many ways one can get to the ruins of Trosky castle – a treasure hidden in the depths of Bohemian Paradise (Český ráj), more information about which can be found here: Two of the routes start from a small village named Ktová, which one can reach by taking a three-hour ride on a bus or a train from Prague with an intermediate stop in Jičín. The most remarkable landmark of Ktová is its train station – a solid yellow building with a waiting room, and a house attached to it, where some good people live. Once at the train station, one can choose whether to walk or to cycle to Trosky castle, whose gothic towers known as Baba (“The Crone”) and Panna (“The Maiden”) can already be seen rising high above the forest.

The first time my friends and I aimed at visiting the castle, the choice fell on cycling. Separating us from Trosky was a pleasant four-kilometer ride up the hill. Since at the time, I was new to the science of bicycles, the experience revealed to be slightly unpleasant. After falling off the bicycle several times, I had to reject the idea of cycling and continued the ascent to the castle on foot, pushing the bicycle along with me. This, of course, slowed our procession down, and by the time we reached our destination, Trosky was closed. We soothed our disappointment with a couple of beers served at the restaurant below the castle and bought some souvenirs. Defeated, we left, promising to come back.

Part 2.

We promised to come back and we did. On a sunny day in June, we got off the train at Ktová to start our climb. This time, we decided to be more and less adventurous at the same time. We kept the bicycles at home, instead, taking a short yet steep two-kilometer hiking track that took us right to the base of the Trosky, which – thankfully – was still open! Entering the courtyard of the castle, we saw that it has been well-prepared for receiving visitors – drinks and snacks were served from the stalls, and a falconer was offering to take photographs of whoever was interested (n-amount of crowns for a photo with a bird of prey on your own camera). It was strangely unusual for me to see these magnificent birds, owls, and falcons, with their legs tied to the perches of their cave-like birdhouses! But we had to pass by.

Having gazed at all the wonders offered at the entrance to the castle we, then, had only to climb its two towers, enjoying the views opening from above and entertaining our imaginations with the stories of battles and romances that now-ruined Trosky should have survived in the past. And for sure, there have been many! Built in the 14th century, the castle had changed a number of owners ever since, at different times serving as an undefeatable fortress for wealthy landlords and shelter for robbers, who terrorized Trosky’s neighborhood.

There was another surprise Trosky had prepared for us. On the day of our visit, the castle became a setting for a unique performance, in the course of which, the bravest tightrope walkers were trying to walk the rope stretching between the two towers, Baba and Panna, covering the 100-meter distance at a height of 50 meters. This tightrope line, one of the most beautiful and longest lines in the Czech Republic, is known as “Grand Virgin Line”. The tightrope walkers stumbled crossing it, had to restore their balance and start anew, which made a magnificent show. Long story short, I was breathtaken!

Having seen the castle, my fellow travelers and I went back, and, as if by tradition, had beers at the restaurant under the castle. We were both impressed and satisfied – Trosky was finally “conquered” and the process of conquering it became an adventure of a sort.

In our days, adventures are not easy to find – one has to look for a good one. I will keep looking and will share with you if one is to be found.

Until then, yours respectfully,
Narmin Ismiyeva

About the author:
Narmin is a literature student from Baku, Azerbaijan, for whom moving to the Czech Republic has become a great source for inspiration.

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