35 – The Enchanter’s Trail

This 1h30 circuit has it all : enchanting forest, sloping fields, majestic viewpoint, bubbling stream, inclines and level ground…. The more curious hikers can discover a historical and  macabre site, said to be « the creepiest in Europe » and as a bonus package, on the final stretch, one can update  ones knowledge of the solar system….

This comprehensive trail is dedicated to a cute collie on his first birthday : curious, funny, loving and smart,  sporty little Merlin has been testing our trails since his early puppy days.

Access : by car : park opposite the Troja dog shelter, in front of the recycling bins (V Zámcích/Bohnická junction) By bus: bus 236 to Zámsky bus stop.

Tip : At the end of the walk, a little snack/beer bar is located 50m further along the cycle path.

Difficulty : medium      Distance: 11,2 Km    Time : 1h30

Summarized itinerary : zamky – odb k vyhlidce – zřícenina kaple – zamky

Detailed itinerary : Walking past the bus stop with the dog shelter to your right, you will spot trail signposts. Just as you approach them, you must head up to the right on a narrow path which leads into the forest. Follow the path which veers to the right, bearing blue trail markers, and running parallel to the road below.

When you reach the top, take a sharp left and follow the blue trail markers (blue triangle) until you get to the picnic table. If you wish to tick “the creepiest cemetery in Europe” of your thrill seeker bucket list and see a pet cemetery into the bargain, go right here then turn into the street on your left. A little further on, you will find the gates to Bohnice graveyard on your left and the pet cemetery on your right.

Bohnice cemetery is better known as Bohnický Hřbitov Bláznů which literally translates as “cemetery of the insane.”

Background history! However politically incorrect this may be considered today, whenever a Czech mentions Bohnice, the statement (usually something along the lines of “There’s a bed waiting for her in Bohnice” “He should be in Bohnice”), refers to the legendary psychiatric hospital. The asylum for the insane became synonymous with the town as it was built in 1909 when there were but a few houses in the village. It “cared for” the mentally ill, beggars and traumatized soldiers returning from WW1, practicing the same experimental treatment  characteristic to all such institutions at that time. Schizophrenia was treated ineffectively by injecting blood infected with malaria, patients were restrained in straitjackets in padded isolation cells, electroshock treatment, hydrotherapy… were all the rage. The graveyard belonged solely to the hospital, and, I am told, was initially where children, unfortunate enough to be born to patients of the asylum, were buried. (Call me suspicious, but I found myself pondering the reason for their premature deaths over the misfortune of the births…) The first person to be buried there was a boy named Frantisek, 11 years old. The huge psychiatric hospital complex is still open today and is praised for its modern approach which encourages integration of patients with locals. Locals can be found jogging and picnicking in the grounds which are open to the public at all times and events and concerts are hosted there. However in 2017, the ownership of the cemetery where noone had been buried for decades, was passed on to the city council of Prague 8. But, between 1909 – 1963, 4300 patients, including soldiers, an accused murderer (thought to be the one who sent the severed body parts of 22 year old, Vranská, in two suitcases to Košice and Bratislava..) and hundreds of  victims of suicide were buried here, the majority namelessly, in unmarked graves.22943DEE-4D3C-4714-9864-631E67756DD8 Should you dare to enter, look for one of the only visible gravestones ; that of Maria Tuma. Mother of two and housemaid, she began to suffer from a psychiatric  disorder, was locked up, died and was buried in 1912.  As  her tombstone is one of the few visible, she and the aforementioned Frantisek have been the subject of many  unnerving videos, highlighting the nature of this creepy place. For those who are interested, here is a short extract of one of these videos.

Granted, both the desolate location and the creeping ivy which covers the ground and trees, contribute to an ominous and unsettling atmosphere and although I experienced no adverse effects, I ascertained with further research that according to the magazine issued by Prague 8 city council, Osmička, inexplicably high levels of electromagnetic energy have been measured here and the place has attracted “devotees of dark forces”. Indeed, in the 80’s, devil worshiping rituals took place frequently.

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Back gate of the cemetery

Now take a look at the pet cemetery which was the only one of its kind in Prague. Opened by Pavel Lukáš in the late 90’s, each owner who buried a dog here, could choose a tree sapling to plant next to their pet’s grave. A dispute over land ownership rights ensued, the cemetery was closed, and untended to, the various bushes and young trees have become rather overgrown. Today you can no longer bury a pet here, however you can walk down the alleys and take a look at the graves. The signs of adoration  left in memory of these beloved dogs lie in stark juxtaposition to the anonymity of the unmarked graves in the hospital graveyard…

 

Then you must return to the picnic table and continue along the wide alley way. Go straight on towards the benches and you will be able to enjoy an uplifting panorama and be thankful for life after mingling with the ghosts of the dead. CE011BC5-9066-4093-81A4-EFCDAFD9E882 Turning from the viewpoint, follow the path straight on to the back gate of the cemetery then turn left down a path and right at the junction. Follow this narrow path up into the fields and continue in a straight line (even when the little path ends) and you will find yourself on a beautiful grassy slope and spot a distinct dirt path, cutting diagonally through the lower field. Your happy dog will no doubt be delighted to charge across this huge open space.

When you emerge from the field, follow the wide gravel path up to the left. You will spot blue trail markers. However, at the junction where the blue trail turns left, you must go straight on. Where this path veers right, you must continue straight on. Your stony path becomes wider and dips down towards a stream. Head left, following this pretty stream. You will see yellow trail markers now. This flat section is very pretty and your dog will enjoy frolicking in and out of the shallow water. F7D3F4A1-4CB7-4633-A5D7-1502CBF248E3As you reach the end of this forest path, do not advance towards the river ; take a sharp left, climb a steep mound of earth and continue along this flat and pleasant path which is bordered by rocks and bears blue trail markers. As the path ends, you have the choice of following the minor road (blue trail markers) back to the starting point, or opting for the cycle path to complete the last stretch. As we chose a wet, Saturday morning in November to map out this trail, the cycle path was conveniently deserted. My scout could jog along and engage in a bit of duck spotting,

while I paused at each information panel, elaborated by Kosmo Klub and contemplated whether the recent demotion in Pluto’s planetary status to “dwarf planet” had resulted from the finish line being advanced i.e. a disqualifying readjustment of the criteria, or if like many other truths we have taken for granted, Pluto had fallen victim to our ever-accelerating technical progress and a shortcoming, invisible until now, had caused it to step down… Story of today’s world! Not to worry, apparently the debate has been reopened in 2019… Maybe someone will find a way to make Pluto great again!

We hope you have enjoyed your walk. Please do not forget to grace us with your comment after using our material. Happy First Birthday, Merlin !🦴

© All images and text subject to copyright. Reproduction only with permission of dogwalksprague.blog

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2 comments

  1. Beautiful forest even in November, great wide meadows, some sun & some mud – so much fun for dogs, and strange feeling from cemetery visit, abandoned human with movie shooting scene, and still visited pet resting place with pet toys, trees, and burning candles. All within Prague city limits, but feel like in countryside.

    Liked by 1 person

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