Mount Říp should be on any bucket list of places to visit in the Czech Republic. Not only is it an ancient pilgrimage site (“What Mecca is to a Mohammedan, Říp is to a Czech”) its 459-meter summit offers seemingly endless views of nearly one-third of Bohemia.
April 6-7 marks the official opening of the spring season for trekkers interested in making the journey; a series of events and tastings will commemorate the occasion at Chata Říp, a small cottage atop the mountain that tradition says all Czechs should climb once in their lives.
Here are some facts and legends about the storied cultural monument:
-For many Czechs, Říp is the spot where the nation’s history began: according to legend, the first Slavs, led by forefather Čech, settled here (Říp derives from a Germanic word for “elevation.”). Čech is said to be buried in the nearby village of Ctiněves.
-Rising up out of the Central Bohemian flat lands at the confluence of three rivers, the mountain is comprised of the remnants of a millions-of-years-old volcano and was bare until the 19th century.
-One of the oldest structures in the Czech lands, the Romanesque Rotunda of Saint George (est. 1126) is situated on top of Říp mountain. It houses an important stone sculpture of St. George with a dragon by Bernard Otto Seeling.
-A number of forested trails lead to the mountain which is located 20 km southeast of Litoměřice. Visitors can approach from the north on the red trail from Roudnice nad Labem, which can be reached by train from Prague. The area also encompasses a number of bike paths.
-In May of 1868 the foundation stone for the newly built National Theatre in Prague was taken from Říp .
For more information about the opening day, see here.