If like me, the wonders of Prague never cease to amaze you, you will delighted to know that just 20 minutes from the town centre, you can go for a walk around the site of a Celtic oppidum, thought to have been inhabited between 200 BC – 1 BC. Today, only protruding stones guide the hiker round the significant areas but between the periods known today by historians as La Tène C2 and La Tène D2, you would have strolled through ramparts, an artisanal square, industrial and residential areas of a thriving, important Celtic hub, spanning over 118 hectares, complete with coin minting workshop and acropolis.
Access : by car : park for free in a car park beside the cemetry in the street Lhotecká, in Dolní Břežany. By bus or train : take train or bus to Praha-Zbraslav (and follow the alternative itinerary, indicated below)
Difficulty : moderate
Distance : part 1 – 7.4 Km part 2 – 3.7 Km.
Time : part 1 – approx 2h20. part 2 – approx 1h10
Tips : There are no water sources therefore you may need to carry some water for your dog, especially in hot weather. The itinerary is almost exclusively in the forest.
Preliminary information :
An oppidum is a late Iron Age Celtic settlement. Oppida were important economic sites where not only people lived but where goods were produced and stored. The word oppidum is in fact a Roman term used by Caesar to refer to these important settlements encountered in Gaul during the Gallic Wars, between 58 – 52 BC. Závist is thought to have been the first oppidum in Bohemia and the findings from the excavations which took place between 1963 – 1989 unearthed a wide range of domestic objects, as well as gates, (13 known entrances) and ramparts.
There were two parts to the Závist oppidum, located on two hilltops with the deep Břežany valley running between them.
Walk 1 will take you through the area where the Acropolis was located and in walk 2 you will go along paths where a further fortified residential settlement was located : Šance and Hradiste.
Detailed itinerary : Park in the carpark on Lhotecká in Dolní Břežany, in front of the cemetry and follow the green trail markers which will lead you across the road and into the forest. N.B. At the entrance to the forest, you mustn’t go straight on along the wide path bordering the fields. Take the forest path on your right and you will pick up green trail markers. Go all the way to Hradište signpost then go right, past the picnic table. Not long after, you will find a path going left, bearing yellow trail markers. You will pass a peaceful picnic spot then the trail markers will lead you straight to the flat area where the fortified settlement Hradiště Závist and acropolis was located. In Summer, this plateau is overgrown with nettles, brambles etc and you will need to weave along the narrow paths to locate the stones which mark out the area.
This area, known as akropole, is thought to have been a hub for the elite, where the influencial met, seeking approval from other elite members of the community and perhaps from the gods. Keep following the yellow trail until you arrive at arcibiskupsky altán (signpost and small building). From the back of the building, you will beable to sit on a stone bench and admire the view over the Vltáva and to the hills beyond. Keep going on the yellow trail but where the trail dips down to the left, you must leave the trail, going straight on, on an unmarked path. This fairly flat forest path will veer round towards the right until you find yourself joining another path bearing green trail markers. Follow the path to the right and all the way back to the car park.
Alternative itinerary if access by train or bus : Descend the steps located at the foot of the road Břežanské údolí, on the right hand side. Go left towards the mini zoo and start to follow the yellow trail markers. After a steep climb, you will follow a flatter path going right, towards the viewpoint at arcibiskupsky altán. Then keep following the yellow trail markers to the plateau where the acropolis was located. After walking around this area (see information above), follow the yellow trail markers all the way to Hradiště rozc and switch to the green trail, going left. This will take you all the way back to your starting point at the mini zoo and steps.
Detailed itinerary : Park at the end of the street Na Stráňkach in Točna, near the entrance to the forest. Follow the yellow trail markers until you arrive at the huge picnic table which will be on your right. Follow the yellow trail markers to the left and you will walk round in a loop, passing all the stone markers which map out the areas of the ancient settlement. Continue to follow the yellow trail markers to get back to where you have parked (consult map below). This walk is much shorter ; its purpose being merely so that you will have visited tge sites of both halves of the oppidum. This route, known as Celtic Trail, provides views over both slopes of the adjacent hill then of the Vltáva below.
To complete your journey into the Celtic past, you may like to see some of the objects which were unearthed during the excavations and find out more, at the nearby museum in Dolní Břežany, Na Panský 11, open on Tuesday and Thursday from 13h-17h, Wed and Friday from 9h-13h and Saturday and Sunday from 10h-17h.
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We hope you have enjoyed your hike around the oppidum. Your comments in the reply zone are very welcome. Cheers, ZaK and dogs.