Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Divoká Šárka (Wild Šárka) Nature Reserve

Dzban Hill

Hi Everyone,
Spring is coming along nicely in Prague; this is the time of year Czechs love to get in touch with the sun and nature. Czechs love being out in nature; weekend jaunts are part of Czech culture in spring and summer. Many families have a chata (a cottage or cabin) located in the mountains around the country, or in the forests and hills not far from Prague. 

Cities and towns, including Prague, empty out on the weekends, as many people head out of town to enjoy the beauty and serenity of Nature in this beautiful country. However, if you can't get out of Prague, there are beautiful parks in the city where you feel as if you're completely out of Prague. One of my favorite Prague parks is Divoká Šárka. 

Divoká Šárka Park Location

Divoká Šárka sits on the northwestern outskirts of Prague 6, on the way to Ruzynĕ Airport. Divoká Šárka, or Wild Šárka, is a nature preserve famous for its forests, lake, rocky cliffs, high bluffs and deep valley. The park is one of the largest within the city of Prague. 

Šárka and Ctirad

Divoká Šárka—A Czech Legend

Divoká Šárka is named after Šárka, a mythical female Slavic warrior. Šárka was one of the main characters in the mythical story of The Maidens’ War —which is an interesting tale about a war between men and women. The story takes place in about the 6th century, before Prague existed. 

At this time, according to legend, Czech society was based on the matriarchal system (women were in charge, rather than men). In the story, after Libuse’s rule and death, the men gain the upper hand and rule in place of the women.  The women become unhappy with this arrangement, and plan to once again rule over the men. 

Šárka, one of the top warrior leaders for the women, tries to entrap the men’s warrior leader, Ctirad, and kill him. Šárka succeeds in catching Ctirad with her feminine wiles and kills him. After Ctirad’s death, the women warriors gain the upper hand, but later the men win the Maiden’s War, and women are thereafter ruled by men.  Rather than be ruled by men, the legend says that Šárka jumped from a cliff, in the current park, to her death.  Divoká Šárka, the park, is named after this famous, legendary woman warrior. 

Park's History

The first recorded settlement of Divoká Šárka dates back to the Paleolithic era (prehistoric times), with archeological evidence also showing human settlement from the Neolithic era, the Bronze Age, through to modern times, when farming and settlement of the area was ended just after WWII.  You can find the remains of an ancient hrad (castle fortress), which was used from the 7th to the 9th century.

What to Do in Divoká Šárka

Divoká Šárka is full of paths where you can walk, hike and bike. The paths run through the entire valley, affording beautiful views of rocky cliffs, forests, a reservoir and stream. Some parts of the park’s sides are steep; making them popular with mountain climbers of all ages who go there to train. Jiri spent many years climbing the cliff walls in Divoká Šárka, in preparation for his many mountain climbing expeditions.You’ll also find a beautiful lake in the midst of the park, Lake Džbán. Swimming is allowed in this lake, which is refreshing after a hot day’s walk. Another popular swimming site is Divoká Šárka’s swimming pool. The water in both the lake and pool are spring-fed and cold. There’s also a beautiful stream that runs through the park’s valley. 

A Refreshing Stop and Animal Life
Meandering along the walkways of Šárka, you’ll also come across a lovely pub, where you can have lunch and pivo (beer), the favorite Czech drink. The pub makes a nice place to take a break on a warm day. Along with the beautiful scenery in Divoká Šárka, you’ll encounter many types of animal life. The park is popular with bird watchers, as you can see more than 80 types of birds there. You can occasionally see free operas and plays in the park, as well.

Divoká Šárka One of My Favorite Places
Divoká Šárka is one of my most favorite parks to visit in Prague. You actually feel as if you’re in the middle of nature, far from the busy, noisy city. You hear less and less of the city’s noise the farther down into the park’s valley you go. The forest, plants and animals refresh your mind and spirit, all without having to venture out of the city. I highly recommend a visit to Divoká Šárka when you come to Prague. The park will give you a break from the city’s popular tourist sites--you won’t be disappointed.

That’s all for now. Have a great day!

God bless,
Sher :0) 

Image credits:  Wikipedia

(c) 2012 by Sher Vacik, all rights reserved.

7 comments: said...

Hi Sher,

I concur with you that one of the joys of Prague is the number of parks & green spaces within the city. And Divoká Šárka is certainly my favourite place to go walking. Especially in the depths of the valley, you wouldn't realise that you are anywhere near a city of 1.3 million people!

Prague city breaks said...

This is a great piece of information. I am looking at Prague city breaks right now but I don't want to go to all of the usual sights in the centre where all the tourists go.

Karen said...

I love that park and love its name!

Sher said...

@chaplain: Finally I've gotten your comment added to this post! Sorry it took so long.

Divoka Sarka is a beautiful place--you're right about not feeling like you're in the city when you're in the deeper parts of the valley!

Have a great day,
Sher :0)

Sher said...

@Prague City Breaks: Divoka Sarka is well worth the trip and you'll definitely be away from the busy tourist areas!

Have a great day,
Sher :0)

Sher said...

@Karen: I agree with you--the park and its name are pretty. I also enjoyed learning about the story behind that park--how and why it was named Divoka Sarka. It's interesting Czech men didn't change the name to something else--for it seems to be a reminder of a day when women were almost in complete control!

Have a great day,
Sher :0)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this, very good information in English...very much appreciated!
It is amazing, very few people are in this area in the middle of summer, just outside a huge city.