Říp Mountain – Climb the Legendary Hill of the Ancient Slavs!

Říp Mountain

This remarkable hill has been attracting people for millennia. Today, Říp Mountain has a special meaning to all Czechs because it plays a key role in the Czech national narrative. Every year, thousands of Czechs decide to climb the hill and connect with the glorious past.

So, put your hiking shoes on, and let’s join them!

Magnetic mountain

Even though Říp isn’t very high, you can recognize it from a far distance. You can even see it from the northern parts of Prague! It rises from the surrounding flat landscape as a solitary hill. Some people say its shape resembles the famous Napoleon’s hat.

Říp is actually a remnant of an old volcano that once used to be over 1 km high. But what makes it really special is that it’s magnetic! Maybe that’s why it’s so attractive… 🤔

The hill builds a rock that contains mineral magnetite. Its magnetic field creates a local magnetic deviation. A compass is totally useless here! No kidding!

Říp Mountain rotunda
Rotunda of St. George and St. Adalbert of Prague

Legend about the acient Slavs

In prehistoric times, there was a settlement under the mountain. But the hill itself was sacred and belonged to the ancient gods.

Only until the first Slavs came to the scene… 😀

legend has it that the Slavs came to this region from the east, following their leader Forefather Čech. Together with his people, he climbed Říp Mountain and looked around. He saw that this land was good and fertile and decided to settle here down. The land was named after him – Čechy.

That’s the traditional version. What we only know for sure is that the first Slavs came to the Central Bohemian Region around the 5th or 6th century during the Migration Period. Before them, the land populated Celts and later Germanic tribes. Interesting fact – the English name for Čechy is Bohemia (from Latin) after the Celtic tribe Boii!

Pagans and Christians

The ancient Slavs were pagans and believed in their deities. They became Christians only during the 9th-10th century. The first Czech Christian dukes built new shrines on the former pagan sacred places. And Říp was one of them.

On the very top of Říp mountain, you’ll see one of the oldest structures in Czechia! This small Romanesque-style church comes from the 12th century. For centuries, Říp used to be a popular pilgrimage place.

What to do on Říp Mountain?

Visit the rotunda and see how churches in the Middle Ages looked like! It’s open every day except Mondays from May to September, and on weekends in April and October. The entrance fee is 60 CZK. At the ticket office, you can borrow a text in English and learn more about the structure and its history.

Říp Mountain has been a popular trip destination since the 19th century. That time was a revival of everything Czech, including the old Slavic history. Before the first world war, a wooden mountain hut was built here. After more than 100 years, it still serves the visitors, and you can buy there something to eat and drink. The guys who operate the hut now source everything possible locally. Great, huh?

Říp Mountain hut

It’s been said that every Czech should climb Říp at least once in a lifetime. As a reminder of this “duty“, a wooden inscription has been placed on the hut wall. It says:

“Co Mohamedu Mekka, to Čechu Říp.” One can translate it as “What Mecca means to Muslims, Říp means to Czechs.” 😀

Because of the symbolic meaning of the hill, one of the foundation stones for the newly built National Theatre in Prague was taken from Říp in 1868. You will find this place on the northern slope of the mountain (after zooming-in, see the brown star on the map below).

How to get to Říp Mountain

You can get easily under Říp Mountain by public transport. The hill is surrounded by several small villages. All of them are accessible by train or bus. Therefore, you can choose from more options, both for the beginning and the end of your trip.

For the hike to the top, you can choose the shortest path. It starts at the southern foot of the mountain in the village of Ctiněves, and it’s marked with a red sign. This route is 2,5 km long, and you will manage to be at the summit in about an hour. The final section is quite steep, be ready for that!

To get to Ctiněves from Prague, take a train from the Masaryk Station and change to another train in Vraňany.

For your way back, you can walk along the same route to Ctiněves, or you can choose one of the other trails leading south (there is another train stop in Mnetěš or Vražkov – see the map).

But if you feel like, extend your trip a bit. Descend to the north along the 6.5 km-long blue route and end your journey in the town of Roudnice nad Labem. Roudnice is one of the Czech oldest towns. In the Middle Ages, it belonged to Prague bishops. They used to stay in their castle, later rebuilt into a baroque style chateau.

The best view of the chateau is from the Kratochvíl lookout tower. This small structure was built in the 1930s in the functionalism style. It stands on the same blue route so you can’t miss it!

Once in Roudnice, you’ll not have any problems getting back to Prague because many of the fast trains stop here.

See you on Říp! An don’t forget to tell your friends! ⬇️ 🤗

2 Comments

  1. Ema Jurek

    Very enticing to go and visit, all the villages and it is awesome that one doesn’t need a car to get everywhere! Maybe will do it one day 😳! Excellent description of history and all the info !

    • Nikola

      Thank you for your nice comment, Ema! It’s really easy and convenient to move around without a car. Czechia is definitely worth visiting. Stay tuned for upcoming posts to learn about other trip destinations!

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