This was one of our longer summer rides through Kokořínsko, a very scenic area with a lot of sandstone formations. Sandstone was an ideal material for the local artist Václav Levý, who created many sculptures while he worked on the castle Liběchov. We started the route at the castle and followed part of the circle of V. Levý, a path that would take you to his main creations. The whole circle is about 13 km long and the main attraction are two giant “Devil’s heads” which you may see just before the end of our ride if you turn to the left on the road in Želízy instead of following the blue tourist mark back to Liběchov. Following our map, you will see only several of his creations, for example, “The snake” at point 3.
The whole trip will lead you on a mix of good forest roads and not very frequented regular roads, so there is no need to give you any special instructions. At point 5 you can decide to cut the trip short and turn right to return to Liběchov. In that case, you will not see the castle Houska (point 7) and miss a nice ride up and down from point 6 to point 9. A good point to take a break is at the restaurant “V Ráji” (which means ‘in Eden’) in a village Ráj. Or, you can take a little side trip to the restaurant “U Grobiána” (which means ‘at a rude guy’) or “U báby Šobrový” (means ‘at the old grandma Šobrová’) on your way back – you just pass the turn to Kokořín castle and continue another 1.5 km on the road. Both of these places serve good food.
OK, back to Castle Houska, the most haunted castle in Czechia. Quote: “According to folklore, Houska Castle was constructed over a large hole in the ground which was known as The Gateway to Hell. It is fabled that the hole was so deep that no one could see the bottom of it. Legend has it that half-animal, half-human creatures used to crawl out from the pit at night, and that black-winged creatures used to attack locals and drag them down into the hole. It is believed that the castle was built to keep the evil in. The location of the castle was specifically chosen in order to cover this mysterious pit from which the demonic creatures emerged at night. The castle’s chapel was specifically built directly over the bottomless pit in order to seal the evil in and keep the demonic creatures from entering our world. But even today, over seven hundred years after the pit has been sealed, visitors still claim to hear the scratching of creatures from the lower floors at night, trying to claw their way to the surface. Others claim to hear a chorus of screams coming from beneath the heavy floor.” You can read more about that terrifying place.
Another castle that you can visit is Kokořín, which also has an interesting history. This castle was built in the 14th century, and abandoned in the 16th century and was almost completely ruined and finally purchased and reconstructed by Špaček family in 1918. After falling into the state’s hands during the communist regime, it was returned to Špaček family in 2006 and it is now open to visitors. The appearance of this castle, even in its ruined shape in 19 century was an inspiration to many writers and poets like Karel Hynek Mácha. Even if you don’t go into the castle, you should not miss the view on the right at the end of the switchback road up from the valley of Pšovka stream. After passing through the village Kokořín and ride through Truskavský důl valley, you will be close to your starting point in Liběchov.
https://en.mapy.cz/s/lajaboheca 52 km, 600 m elevation gain
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