Follow the trail of mystery: ghosts in Czechia, buried Nazi gold and UFO landing sites
A lot of people find it hard to muster the motivation for going out or organizing a trip. Sitting on your couch at home with a glass of beer (or wine) is so nice, after all! Travelling simply needs to have something extra to recommend it. A few years ago, we had the geocaching boom, with the young and the old alike succumbing to the craze, but this year people seem to need even more to get them enthused for the great outdoors. Like a body, for example...
Not long ago, there were reports of a group of teenagers who indeed found a suspicious suitcase with human remains. The find was not quite an accident – the kids got to the spot using coordinates from the popular app Randonautica. The app generates random sets of coordinated, instructing its users to go to the location, explore it and record what they found. A corpse was definitely not what the young explorers expected, but spooky trips and mystery tourism are becoming more and more popular nowadays. People like being a little afraid and enjoying the adrenaline. If you like adventure too, but not so much that you need to explore the bottom of the Orlík dam, you might like these tips for places that leave even the bravest souls slightly shaken.
If you want one castle in Czechia that is surrounded by the most disconcerting legends, it’s definitely Svojanov near the village of Polička. It is no wonder that it’s a popular spot for ghost-hunters and mystery-lovers, with the bolder ones even spending the night. They only do so at their own peril, since it is said that the souls of women who died in the castle still prowl the corridors. Some were tortured to death, while others got walled up in their rooms. The owners’ daughter was buried under a scaffolding, leaving a bloody handprint on the wall, and a number of human remains were found in the castle’s walls. If you think a handful of legends is not enough to make you lose your cool, you can also watch a documentary on Svojanov from the TaJeMno series. We wouldn’t be surprise if that were enough to change your mind about sleeping over.
Nazi underground factory, Richard
First off, it must be said that officially it is not possible to visit the site, which is currently managed by the Terezín Memorial. On the other hand, adventure lovers have been venturing into the factory for a while now, despite the fact that it can only be entered through a nuclear waste storage site. Richard (I, II, and III) is a complex of former underground limestone quarries close to Litoměřice. The Nazis allegedly turned it into their largest military factory and story has it that in 1965, soldiers exploring the site accidentally found chests full of documents related to the French and Dutch PoWs who had been held in a nearby labour camp. Since then, there has been speculation that the mines might also contain Nazi gold or a Gestapo archive.
Church of St. George in Luková
In general, churches often have a magical atmosphere, but the Church of St. George in Luková is literally full of ghosts. The spectral figures sit in the pews praying, and anybody can see them, on account of them being made from plaster. Add the empty tower windows and peeling plaster hinting at the building’s former glory, and it becomes clear that the church is full of quite special charm. Up to 2012, the church was closed to the public since it was falling down. In 2012, it was chosen by Jakub Hadrava, a student, as an installation site for his bachelor thesis. He installed the plaster statues, symbolizing the souls of Luková parishioners who had been deported after the war, ever faithful to the church under any circumstances. Some of the figures are made of plaster mixed with phosphorus, meaning they glow in the dark. However, if you want to visit this spot, you have to order a visit ahead of time, because the church is usually closed to visitors.
Orty – a kaolin labyrinth
If you want to cool down in the hot summer days, you can always go to České Budějovice, or more specifically the neighbouring underground kaolin mine, which was used in the late 19th century. The mine, called Orty, is usually not accessible to the public, but the locals know it well and they know how to get into the underground passages. Be warned though: because of cave-ins, you will have to literally crawl into the mines. The underground labyrinth is quite confusing for newcomers, but many locals organize secret games in the mines or even sleep over. You can also find art displays in the corridors: a variety of clay sculptures, murals, or even candle formations. Make sure you only venture into the underground with a seasoned guide. While the site is not exactly dangerous, it’s definitely not your typical tourist venue with arrows marking the exit.
Kounov stone rows
A spot mired in mystery can be found close to the village of Kounov in the Rakovník district. In 1934, a local teacher discovered strange stone rows on a plateau overlooking Kounov, on the Rovina hill. At first, nobody was interested in his discovery, but he started studying the site and found out that the parallel rows of large stones pointing directly southwards spread over several hectares. His find later attracted archaeologists, but to this date, it is still not clear why the stones are in this spot, standing in this specific pattern. One theory says that the site may have been used for rituals by the Celts, while others describe it as a sacred racing ground. Some think that the stones may have served as a prehistoric calendar, and of course there are those who claim that the stones serve as a sort of GPS for the UFO. The U Tří lip house in Kounov hosts an exhibition dedicated on the stone rows, but even there you will find more questions than answers.