Pravcicka Gate Bohemain Switzerland National Park
The Pravcicka Gate National Monument is a rock gate formed in block sandstones of the Cretaceous Age. Located in the territory of the BohemiaSwitzerland National Park about 3 km northeast of the village Hrensko in the district Decin. With a span of 26.5 meters and a height of 16 meters, it is the largest sandstone rock gate in Europe. It is one of the most visited places and also a symbol of the Bohemian Switzerland National Park, under its management. The protected area includes not only the sandstone gate itself but also the surrounding rock formations and partly built-up area (Falcon Netz mansion). Pravcicka Gate belongs to the Bohemian Switzerland National Park also to the Bird Area of Labske sandstone.
The Pravcicka Gate has been visited since the end of the 18th century. Numerous visits caused increased erosion of the upper parts and destruction of the gate. After discovering several cracks, in 1982 tourists were not allowed to enter the gate. Pravcicka Gate was first protected since 18 December 1963, when it was declared by the District National Committee Decin Protected Natural Creation (CHPV). On June 11, 1992, it was reclassified as a National Natural Monument by a decree of the Ministry of the Environment. The aim of protection is to preserve the current state and natural development of sandstone rock massifs and minimize negative anthropogenic effects.
In 2009, Pravcická Gate got into the narrower ground of the New7Wonders poll by seven natural wonders of the world, when it advanced among 71 semi-finalists. However, it did not make it to the shortlist of 28 finalists.
The present name Pravcicka Gate is derived from its German name Prebischtor (meaning Tor as a gate). The first inhabitants of the area called the gate according to their characteristics and dimensions. The common name was “Great Gate” (German “Grosses Tor”), which is also documented in the first written mention of the gate of 1410. By contrast, the list of local names contained in the urbarium of 1722 lists only the simple “Das Thor”. It was only in tourist literature that the name “Prebischtor” began to appear. The name was taken from the name of the nearest field units “Prebischgrund”, “Prebischkegel” and “Prebischhorn”, already mentioned in the descriptions of the borders of the 16th and 17 century and in the contracts of the division of the estate. These names probably come from the inhabitants’ name Prebisch, which was once widespread here.
With the boom in tourism, the number of Czech visitors from the Czech-speaking inland gradually increased. The German form of the word was thus similar to a Czech word. This was initially inconsistent, which is also shown by the diversity of these names: Gate of Prebis, Gate of Prebis, Great Gate of Prysysov and Prysysov Gate. Finally, in the 1930s, the current shape of Pravcicka Gate settled. However, this name is not related to the name of the village Pravcice in the district of Kromeriz.
Legends about the origin of the name
There are also many legends and examples of folk etymology explaining the origin of the name. One is the legend of the hermit Prebisch, who allegedly resided here and gave the gate a name. Equally unlikely is the opinion that the gate was given a name from the Slavic expression for the gate or overhang. The German name “Prebischtor” would thus be derived from the Czech word “overhang”.
Location and dimensions
The Pravcicka Gate National Nature Monument is located in the 1st zone of the Bohemian Switzerland National Park, about 3 km northeast of Hrensko and 2 km northwest of Mezni Louka. Geomorphologically it belongs to the Decin highlands, specifically to the Jetrichovice Wall sub-unit and is located at an altitude of 447 meters above sea level. It is the largest sandstone rock gate in Europe. The length of Pravcicka Gate is 26.5 meters, the height is 16 meters, the smallest vault thickness is 2.5 meters and the smallest width is 8 meters.
Due to the inaccessibility of the terrain, unsuitable conditions for agriculture and forestry and other people’s view of the landscape, the gate was probably not used until the second half of the 18th century. At the beginning of the 19th century, the gate was first visited by artists from neighboring Saxony who captured it in their works. In 1826 the first refreshment facility was put into operation at the foot of Pravcicka Gate and 11 years later a dormitory was established. Among the outstanding personalities who visited the gate during this period are undoubtedly the Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen, who first visited this area in 1831 and mentions it in his travel notes. In the 1860s the trail through Dlouhy dul (Long Mine) was reconstructed, designed primarily for horse-riding. At the behest of the owner of the estate, Prince Edmund Clary-Aldringen, the construction of the Falcon Netz (Inn) was started in 1881. It was completed and opened a year earlier and admission to Pravcicka GAte was started in advance. Hotel Falcon Netz has been privately owned since 1992.