The dominant of the national park on the Czech side of the border is Pravčická Gate (Pravčická brána). The inhabitants of the Czech Republic are very proud of this masterpiece of nature and are happy to welcome tourists from every small corner of the world to show them this gem.
Pravčická Gate: The highest rock bridge in Europe
There is nothing even similar to Pravčická Gate in Europe. Rock bridge with its huge dimensions, 16 m (52 feet) high, 8 m (26 feet) wide and 26 m (85 feet) wide span, it’s massive. It is located near the village of Hřensko in the district of Děčín in the north of the Czech Republic. This national natural monument since the 18th century has attracted artists who liked to paint it within their works. For example, one of the world’s most famous writers, Hans Christian Andersen, stopped here as well.
Although the rock arch looks very strong and firm, it is actually quite fragile. Scientists are fascinated by the fact that, despite its enormous weight, it has not collapsed yet. According to them, Pravčická Gate is about 100 thousand years old. It was formed on the bottom of the sea by gradual settling of sand, erosion and subsequent weathering of the rock.
Access to the rock bridge is forbidden due to its (and your) protection. The viewing points all around allow you to see the Pravčická Gate from every side and angle.
- The first viewing point, which will take you into the mystical atmosphere of the Pravčická Gate, is right under the arch of the rock bridge.
- Stairs with iron railings will take you to a height where you can enjoy a unique view of the picturesque nature of Bohemian Switzerland. You will see the Pravčická Gate in all its splendid beauty, along with the castle Eagles Nest (Sokolí hnízdo), Pravčický cone (Pravčický kužel) and the Křídelné stěny.
- The third view offers a complete panoramic view over the Dlouhodolské Walls (Dlouhodolské stěny) along which the hiking trail leads.
When to visit? Charming in summer and also in winter
During the spring, when nature is vivid green throughout Central Europe, it is the ideal time to explore its treasures. The air temperature in March and April seldom exceeds 20 ° C, and the Pravčická Gate is surrounded by forests waking up get their first breath, shining with the fresh green color of young leaves.
Many tourists choose to explore Pravčická Gate and other beauties of Bohemian Switzerland just during the summer holidays, when it is the lowest probability that the trip will be spoilt by rain or strong wind, therefore in summer. From April to October, you can see the sandstone monument at any time between 10 am and 6 pm.
If you prefer to admire the landscape, resting under the snow blanket and you do not mind the temperatures below zero, you can also visit this site in winter. The walkways around Hřensko are maintained and safe all year round. At the winter trip through the country, you will have more privacy compared to the summer. Plan your trip so that you leave Pravčická Gate no later than 16.00.
How much it costs and how to get there
Admission to the site of Pravčická brána is 75 CZK / 3,50 $ for adults and 25 CZK / 1,50 $ for children, students and retirees from April to October.
The fastest and most convenient way how to get there is by car. Many visitors of Prague take advantage of the close proximity of the national park and plan a day trip. From Prague, the journey to Pravčická Gate takes approx. 2 hours.
If you travel from Prague (or another place in the Czech Republic) and you don’t have a car, you can reach the area by train to the town of Děčín, from where you can get by bus to Hřensko. Get off at Hřensko – Pravčická brána or Mezní – depending on which tourist route you would like to continue.
On the German side, the nearest train station is in the village of Schöna on the opposite side of the Elbe River. A ferry transfer will take you to Hřensko.
A tourist trail leads from Hřensko, marked by a red sign. About 1 mile you will go along the asphalt road to the crossroads of Three springs (Tři prameny), from where you can expect a slight climb through the forest path about 1,5 miles to the Pravčická Gate.
Another starting point is Mezní Louka, from which Gabriela’s trail leads. The curving road at the foot of the Křídelní stěny is about 6 km long and rich in beautiful views everywhere.
If you don’t have time to research and plan your trip to Bohemian Switzerland, let us show you the beauty of the national park and book an organized day tour from Prague.
Where to stay and eat?
After all the walking you will appreciate enjoying a sip of a tasty beer and food in one of the local restaurants or buffets. Perhaps the most popular stop is the charming Falcon’s Nest Castle, which is part of the Pravčická Gate. In the past, only the honored and privileged guests of the heir family of Clara-Aldringen visited this building built in the Alpine style, set directly in the rocks. Nowadays you can relax here and recharge with delicious lunch or drink in a stylish restaurant.
Some touristic buffets and restaurants located right on the hiking trail come hand in hand with good beer, a tasty lunch or some small snack. One of them is the Penzión u Forta, a family-run business where you can taste traditional Czech delicacies.
Accommodation is provided by hotels in the village of Hřensko, eg. Hotel Praha. The closest to Pravčická Gate is Hotel Mezní Louka, with pleasantly furnished rooms, a restaurant, and a wellness area. There are also several smaller guesthouses and a campsite nearby.
Pravčická Gate is definitely not the only natural treasure that Hřensko and its corners offer. You can continue your visit through Mezní Meadow to Divoká Gorge, where you can take a ferry ride on the Kamenice River. During a boat trip, you will find yourself embraced by the mysterious rocky gorges of Dolná and Edmund.
Hiking trails around Hřensko will lead you through the picturesque landscape of sandstone rocks, gorges, and deep forests, so it is really worth exploring here.