About an hour Northeast of Prague is a small village called Mala Skala. Located in an area called Český ráj, or in English, Bohemian Paradise, this is a gem of a spot, especially when you need a break from city living. The natural landscape plus the idyllic town is exactly the kind of place I’d buy a vacation home if I could. It’s small and less visited by tourists than the other towns in the area, but there’s plenty to do – hiking, biking, boating. And it’s easy to get to the other towns in the area by train or biking. But honestly, if I go back, I’d rent a car so I can get off the beaten path a bit in the area. We only spent a short time here, but my friend and I were very wowed by the experience!
Above the village is the ruin of Vranov Castle. The castle was built in the beginning of the 15th century and was one of the last castles to be built in the region. The castle experienced great decay over the years and what is left is truly a ruin, but it allows the visitor so much imagination. I highly recommend exploring.
At the top of the castle ruins is a newer structure, built in the early 1800’s by an entrepreneur who dedicated the site and areas around the castle to legendary poets, events, historical personalities, etc. This section of Vranov is called the Pantheon. Here, my height anxiety would only allow me to tread so far as the stairs were narrow and steep.