Written by Julie Fishman
Home to myth and legend, the beautiful valley at the edge of Prague 6, one can find total escape – Divoka Sarka, a huge nature reserve. The name means Wild Sarka, a mythic female warrior (see myth below) and is, indeed, somewhat of an untamed place.
A quick tram ride on either 26 or 20 to the Divoka Sarka stop, which is the end of the line, gets you there. Sadly you are greeted by a large Mc Donald´s, but this is your parting shot at the modern world as you descend into the valley, woodsy paths and wide open fields await you.
There is far too much to cover in one day, making Divoka Sarka perfect for many return trips. Hiking or biking on paths, climbing some of the small, albeit steep, hills to get an amazing view of the valley and city and for the more daring, getting out the ropes and scaling the steep cliffs, even a golf course and camping are available in the Sarka Valley.
Walking through the cool green shade and following the path of Sarka Potom (Sarka Stream), listening to the gentle sound of running water, you can´t help but feel completely transported back in time to when the jagged shale and limestone cliffs were formed.
On hot days, there is a public swimming pool, which is stream feed, so be prepared for cold! The pool is in the middle of the valley and admission for the whole day is 50kc for anyone over 10 years old, kids 5 to 10 are 20kc, kids under 5 are free and retired folks are 40kc. The pool is open from 10 to 6 in June and 9 to 7 in July and August and up to the middle of September depending on the weather.
The pool center features foosball, petanque courts and other activities. Near by. is U Veseliku a lovely pub with a large terrace area, which serves up ice cold beer and super cheap pub treats. The perfect place to take a break and enjoy the scenery.
Your other swimming choice is the reservoir, called Dzban (which means jug in Czech, particularly the one you take to the pub for “take out” beer. Really, just ask any of your Czech friends and I am sure they will tell you that it was a childhood chore, to take the jug to the local pub to get it filled!). There is a camp ground, pub and nude bathing area here and occasionally concerts are held here too.
The reservoir´s hours are a little less regular, as they seem more dependent on the weather, so it´s good to have the pool as a back up plan! (admission prices are about the same).
In the midst of all the beautiful trees, there are wide open fields, including one known as “pohadka” (Czech for fairytale). And the feeling you get is just that, as if you are standing in the middle of something out of The Brothers Grimm or Hans Christian Andersen! Atop a hill, the open space is surrounded with every type of tree and tall swaying grass. Young couples can be found, sprinkled in the tall grass like children´s toys, seeking a romantic hideaway. Near the top of the area is a playground with an amazing view of the entire valley.
During the summer, if you want to enjoy the quiet, it´s best to visit during the week, as the weekend brings families, sports enthusiasts and couples, young and old alike, to take in all the area has to offer. But to have true solitude, it´s wintertime that you want. Winter hiking and cross country skiing are ideal and there are none of the summer crowds. Blanketed in snow, Divoka Sarka seems even more primeval than in the green of summer. The snowy quiet lends an almost other-worldly atmosphere to your walk down the same paths that were so alive with sound in the summer.
It is here, that one can picture the myth of Sarka, the beautiful female warrior. As legend has it, the city was controlled by a small, but fierce tribe of Amazons on one side of the Vltava and a large all male tribe, ruling from the vantage of Vysehrad on the other side of the river. The women, knowing they were greatly outnumbered; felt the best way to beat the men was to capture their best warrior, Ctirad.
So Vlasta, the leader, set Sarka, beautiful warrior, as the bait to trap Ctirad. Here is where the legend has a couple of different versions. One says she seduced Ctirad and while he slept, her sister warriors captured and killed him. Another version says she dispatched him herself. The end of Sarka´s life also has a couple of versions. One has her wracked with guilt over what she as done and she throws herself off the cliffs in an act of repentance, while another version has her falling in love with the handsome Ctirad and being broken-hearted at his death, she plunges off the cliff (which bears the name Divci Skok or Girls´ Jump) to her death at the grief of his loss. Either way, it´s a lovely and romantic legend, something Czech history is full of, and adds an extra special beauty to the naturally beautiful Sarka Valley. (full version of the legend is here: http://www.radio.cz/en/article/11889)