Frozen Lakes and Ruined Castles

Today, I headed out with a couple of friends to one of the extremities of Brno called Brno-Lišen. My plan was to descend from their into Mariánské Údolí for a walk along the Ričká River and reservoirs always looking to see if we could find the ruins of a Castle called Horákov (see map below – castle symbol). Setting out it was cold, misty and had snowed overnight. We parked by Lišen Cemetery and followed a footpath through the forest and into the valley. The snow and the mist along with the stark outlines of trees in winter made for some remarkable scenery as we slipped and slid down muddy and snowy pathways into the valley below.

Whenever I am in a Czech forest, I feel close to the goddess and today Morana, goddess of winter, seemed all about in the mist and the snowy landscape – as if touched by the Snow Queen herself. The squawking of crows and an army of smaller colorful birds only enhanced that feeling.

As we reached the valley, the small reservoirs were frozen over giving an otherworldly feeling to the place and yet there were plenty of joggers and dog walkers about as well as a small restaurant serving hot tea, mulled wine and so on from a small window. The scalding hot tea with lemon certainly did the trick! Given the conditions, it didn’t seem as if climbing the hill side to find the ruins was on so we walked quite a ways along the side of the reservoirs stopping to watch the rushing and noisy icy waters churn down relief channels.

At the point at which we felt perhaps we should turn back there was a map and it showed a pathway back that went up and past the Castle. So we decided to try it and pretty soon, we were up on the ridge and I was marveling over the Conglomerate rock formations and then we were there. A flat area on the hilltop surround on all sides by a pretty good drop – the site of the Castle. All that is left are earthworks and piles of stones. But there was an energy about the place that a little bit of dowsing confirmed.

Originally a settlement 500BC, the site has been inhabited by humans several times in history. “The site was used already in the Iron Age, sometime around 500 BC. The medieval re-fortification of the watchtower is expected from the first half of the 11th century. The holding of the village Horákov isdocumented in the Land Plates in the years 1355-71, when it was held by members of the Brno patrician. The castle first appears in the sources in 1464, in connection with Ondřej of Sloupno and Horákov. This year, the castle was probably deserted, because only the fields related to it are listed. In the same way, in 1529 only a forest called Hrad is mentioned.” says the website hrady.cz.

Something like an 8km walk or thereabouts but very exhilarating and beautiful. The short drive back to Brno was rewarded with a marvelous sunset to round out a really great day.

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