Žacléř, Giant Mountains.

A trip to Giant Mountains with Čenda the dog and a jar of sourdough. About a small town that lost part of its past and hasn´t got much present either.

Each inhabitant of Prague registered on facebook  knows that the part of Prague called Letná is full of hipsters and other similar beings, who drink sour coffee, drive Volvo or Saab, own sourdough and always bitch about something. There is actually a book on it, unfortunately only in Czech. My friends Klára nad Bob live nearby this specific area. One day they took their Saab, jar of sourdough and a borrowed dog called Čenda and set off for holiday. They also put me on the backseat next to Čenda. They headed for Klára´s family cottage, where she has been going much longer before she even could pronounce the word “organic”.


A town with rich past that has lost its breath


If you ever travel somewhere around Trutnov, don´t forget to pay at least a short visit to Žacléř. A town where you can still feel how much harm caused WWII in Czech border regions. More than 70  years after it ended. Big part of those who once lived here left and the ones who came after them didn´t manage to keep things going. Broken family bonds and friendships, farms abandoned, houses perished. Only if you go to the local cemetery, you will see by the names that once people of different nationalities would live and die together here. And than finally, the coal mine closed and there were even less job opportunities.

Žacléř is actually not the place for a trip. Most shops and restaurant on the main square are closed, many houses for sale. Even clubs and pubs which were crowded ten years ago, are now closed and waiting for their new owners. When we arrived, the town doctors had just died due to his unhealthy lifestyle and locals were waiting for his successor.

Life has moved to another part of town in recent years. You can walk there in 15 minutes and your way will be lined with shops and restaurants which are either abandoned or have weird opening hours. The only place that is always open and can be recommended is Sport with quite good prices. Strong broth with liver dumplings is excellent and the staff friendly. Simple but clean rooms cost around 10 euro a night per capita.

Another story without a happy ending is the castle. It has had many owners since the revolution when state returned many estates to their previous tenants (mainly nobility and church). Current owners claim on their website that they had been trying to reconstruct it since 2010 but at the same time they offer it for sale. Once it was possible to enter it and wander around, now there are fences and security cameras. And the castle keeps deteriorating.

If you reach the edge of the town, you will get to the old coalminers´houses. Partly destroyed, partly renovated. The last one before the petrol station can be entered and explored. But be cautious, it is not safe as ceilings are falling and stairs are damaged. Another reminder of the mining history is the open air Museum of Mining (actually the whole area of Jan Šverma mine) about one kilometer further in this direction.


Treasures of Keramtech


Although it might sound unusual, there is still one factory working here. It had bad ties, survived and now continues producing ceramic components. This region has been famous for manufacturing of glass, beads and similar for a very long time. This automatically means that everyone here has at home some of the Keramtech products and wholes in tracks have been filled with waster for decades. We were lucky to find two piles of this beautiful garbage. Porcelain water taps, plugs and sockets, tiny dolls, drawer buttons… Klára even managed to find a vintage retro or simply said and old soap dish.

Exploring local dumps and tracks is definitely worth the result as the company has existed since the eighties of the 19th century. You might be lucky as well. I remember  going on school trips to the area of Giant and Jizera Mountains. We would always look for old beads and pieces of colourful glass sticking out of the ground. Later, as an adult I even found antique red and black edged beads for a necklace in a brook. They might have been 80 years old, most mountain home glassworks perished years ago.



Wintertime, summertime…


These are mountains, right? This means people go skiing here. One slope is nearby and still nobody is interested in accommodation in Žacléř. The same in summer when you can set off from here for many trips such as hiking to the top of beautiful Královecký Špičák or abroad, as Poland is just behind the nearest hill. Beautiful woods full of mushrooms and meadows ideal for kiting are several kilometers away direction from Trutnov. There always used to be a lot of snow here in the winter and one web camera showing snow conditions is on the main square. It is pointed on one small spot next to the fountain. Someone tracks out a heart in the fresh snow every morning in winter months. 🙂

It might sound vain, still a lot of cultural events take place here and this is also the place to find a cheap house for sale, near the national park and skiing slopes.