Monday each week, is meant to be my ‘day-off’. But when I live on-the-job with the office next door to my bedroom, it is very difficult to have a proper day-off unless I get completely away from the Chaplaincy Flat. So I’m determined during these coming summer weeks, to take a proper day-off and get out and about to see more of Prague and the surrounding Czech countryside.
Therefore last Monday 18th June, Sybille and I made a start in making that determination a reality. We went out for the day to visit a place that has been on our ‘to visit list’ for quite some time – Pruhonice Park.
Pruhonice Park lies south-east of Prague, a little beyond the city boundary in the Central Bohemia Region. It was still very easy to get there by public transport – a combination of tram, metro and bus. But because our final destination Pruhonice, lies just beyond the city boundary, we were obliged to pay an additional CZK 12/£0.36 each because our ‘Open Cards’ for the integrated Prague public transport system, only cover us when travelling within the city boundary. However, one has to say that this hardly breaks the bank
The park itself was founded by Count Arnošt Emanuel Silva-Tarouca in 1885. He took advantage of the existing small river valleys to create a series of lakes and introduced an amazing variety of trees, some native to Central Europe but with others from elsewhere in the world. The result is, ‘a masterpiece of garden landscape architecture that is of worldwide importance’, to quote the publicity leaflet we were given.
The entrance to the park, which is spread out over 250 hectares, is alongside an amazing Zámek/Chateau which you can see in the photograph at the beginning of this post. The Zámek/Chateau itself is not open to the public as it is the HQ of the Botanical Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences. But it is still possible to enjoy the exterior of the building which is beautifully decorated as you can see in these two photographs.
Our visit coincided with the hottest day so far of the 2012 summer so we were glad to be able to enjoy walking along gravel tracks which were frequently well shaded by the many magnificent trees. One of numerous things that Pruhonice Park is famous for is its collection of rhododendrons. These bloom during May so our visit was a little late to enjoy what is apparently a spectacular sight when they are all flowering. We only got to see the very last of the blooms in a few sheltered spots.
What did surprise us was how few other visitors there were. Apparently a lot of Czech families do visit at weekends but on a hot, sunny Monday in June, we shared the park with only a handful of other people.
Another surprise was the complete absence of anywhere within the park grounds where it was possible to buy a ‘cool glass of something’. We were therefore most thankful that we had thought to pack a two litre bottle of sparling mineral water in my rucksack, before setting out for the day.
On this visit, we only got to see about a quarter of the area of the park so we shall certainly return to explore some more. I’m also sure that it must look magnificent in the Autumn with the changing colours of the leaves and I’ve already made a mental note to visit next May to see the rhododendrons in bloom.
Below are two more images of Pruhonice Park which I hope will illustrate the beauty and peace of this delightful location in the Czech Republic.