I spent few days in the town of Mikulov. Despite it was in September it felt like summer (30 °C). I was attending a conference (just as audience) and I got there by train (to Břeclav) and bicycle (Břeclav–Mikulov).
There are many interesting places and things to do in the region. I list the ones I visited below.
The town is well groomed, there is a castle and historical houses. It looks nice together.
Svatý kopeček (hill)
Do not confuse with Svatý Kopeček (note the spelling) near Olomouc. This is a prominent hill in relatively flat neighborhood of Mikulov. You can walk the way of the cross to the top where a chapel soars.
Janičův vrch (quarry)
A former limestone quarry, now its flooded and it is allegedly one of the cleanest natural “baths”. My experience is that the water is surprisingly warm (quarry), the transparency was about 1 m and there were some greenish bubbles on the surface. It was a good swim in the end.
Turold is another peak nearby and a cave system beneath it. I didn’t visit the cave, however, there is interesting “stonium” outside where various types of rocks are collected with educative labels.
When I went running, I saw a hill on the south horizon. I thought I would easily reach, however, to my surprise it was in Austria. From the Czech side, it’s accessible only field roads among corn and other plants. On the other hand, there is a paved road from the Austrian side as there is a memorial (both world wars soldiers, people during totality) at the top.
It is and interesting reflection of the Svatý kopeček.
Pavlovské vrchy (Pálava)
Pavlovské vrchy are an oblong limestone massif reaching almost 600 meters above sea level, which is quite impressive in the flat valleys of the South Moravia.
I had been on the north slope of Pálava before, however, this time I passed the whole range from north all the way to Mikulov. I woke up at 4 AM to watch the sunrise which was fun (considering other attendes of the conference) despite it was cloudy in the end.
Former buffer zone
Mikulov is very close to the border that used to be part of the Iron Curtain. I could not find any sources on breadth of the zone in this region, however, my guess is that it spanned few hundreds to two kilometers inwards the Czechoslovakia. I think this is the reason Mikulov didn’t develop during the communist era, not to attract too dense population. (The other factor might be Břeclav in the proximity.) I wasn’t aware of the presence of the zone until I saw an artistic monument while cycling back to Břeclav.
The legends say the local vineyards were founded by Roman legions that occupied this area at the beginning of the common era. The steep hills and limestone soil make this really a vine region. Two remarks:
- Due to relatively large latitude the grapes are ripe only in the mid-autumn (not all of them but there was still plenty of unharvested berries when I was there in September).
- You always hear random shots when you are close to the vineyards. I guess those are to frighten starlings away, however, I wonder that they don’t adapt to that (shots are quite frequent).
I felt like I was abroad because most of the conference visitors were foreigners and the hotel was quite large and equipped modernly.
Obviously, tourists and conference visitor are important economic factor in the town – prices were similar to those in Prague.
If you listen carefully to locals speaking, you can hear the Moravian dialect (softened ‘i’ vowels were quite significant).