In July 2021, several new sites from all over the world were added to the UNESCO List of Natural Monuments. One of these new additions is in the Czech Republic, in North Bohemia. It is the protected area known as the Jizera Mountains beech forests. It is one of the few last remaining mountain beech forests largely untouched by man in Europe.
Unique forests in EuropeThe Jizera Mountains beech forests, now protected by UNESCO, cover an area of approximately 27 square kilometres on the north-eastern slope of the Jizera Mountains in North Bohemia near the villages of Hejnice and Lázně Libverda. It is not a question of protecting one isolated area, but rather of connecting it to already existing localities protected under the name: Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe. This World Heritage List includes almost 100 sites in twelve European countries.
Although the area is referred to as beech forest, it is far from being just beeches. There are also rowan trees and linden, in the lower-laying parts there are oak, fir and spruce, some over 200 years old. The best-preserved and most valuable areas of the Jizera Mountains in terms of the natural environment are, of course, home to many rare animals and plants. Part of the reservation has been a non-intervention area since 2007, where nature is left to its own spontaneous development. The primeval forest has been evolving here for hundreds of years. The mountain slopes are rocky and steep. In recent centuries, therefore, people have preferred to harvest wood on more accessible slopes and did not go to the northern side of the mountains. Therefore, these forests remain almost untouched by human activity to this day and naturally develop here at their own accord.
UNESCO for introvertsForests on mountain slopes with many rock massifs and viewpoints are interesting not only in terms of ecology, but also tourism. But there is also one catch: the difficulty of the terrain. Unlike other Czech monuments inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, you will not find any information or visitor centres in the Jizera Mountains beech forests. There is only pure, majestic nature in its own pure form. Don't expect crowds of tourists or facilities such as restrooms or refreshments. The terrain is more challenging here. There are large differences in elevations while hiking the trails and riding a bike is only possible on one path. In short, it is an ideal place for hikers who seek mainly natural beauty, solitude, and tranquillity. The best way to get here is by car from Liberec and you can park, for example, in Hejnice or in Lázně Libverda. Hiking trails and nature trails will show you the way.
Trips in search of beech trees and moreThe Jizera Mountains beech forests are extremely interesting and important from a scientific and ecological point-of-view. On the other hand, a trip there is not for everyone. We will recommend you where to go if you want to spend a few days here and enjoy the surroundings as well.
An interesting trip lined with many rock formations is Oldřichovské Háje and skály (Oldřichov groves and rock cliffs), to which leads a nature trail of the same name, beginning in the village of Oldřichov. In addition to beautiful nature, a highwayman’s rock castle awaits you on the trail and a staircase carved into the rockface, which leads to the top of approx. 30-metre-high rock massifs. The peaks offer a magnificent view of the entire area, Poland and the Ještěd Ridge.
The local region has some interesting places in store for lovers of history. The largest city in the area is Liberec, the centre of North Bohemia. There is also a sports centre that offers much more than winter sporting activities. On the northern side of the Jizera Mountains, you will find the town of Frýdlant with a beautiful castle and chateau consisting of a medieval castle and a Renaissance chateau standing on a massive rock overlooking the river. It is one of the most important monuments in the Czech Republic and was opened to tourists in 1801. It is the first castle museum in Central Europe.
And we mustn’t forget to mention Hejnice. This village lies just a stone’s throw away from the beech forests. Why visit? In addition to the Baroque stone bridge and old timbered houses with half-timbered floors and mansard roofs, the Basilica of the Visitation of the Virgin Mary with its former Franciscan monastery, cloisters and garden all offer unique sights worth visiting.