Děčín Region and the Lusatian Mountains
The most serene Czech mountains suffered a sad fate during the post-war period. The cold war and worsening relations with neighbouring West Germany diminished tourism and monuments, particularly religious ones, were neglected. Today, however, the Lusatian Mountains (Lužické hory) enjoy healthy tourism, thanks to undisturbed countryside, well-preserved architecture with typical timber buildings, unique natural wonders in the districts of the Labe Sandstones and Czech Switzerland and several historical landmarks.
The Lusatian Mountains consist of what is considered the country’s most tranquil and most placid mountain range. They are also among the smallest. They are spread out along a distance of 29 km and their breadth ranges from 12 down to a mere 3,5 km in the western stretch. In the north it is subtly supplemented by a ring of hills situated within the Czech Republic.
The Lusatian Mountains lie between Děčín and Liberec. From the west, Děčín is the main starting point to the mountains and to the protected landscape area of the Labe Sandstones, as well as to the national park known as Czech Switzerland. The district of the Labe Sandstones has an imposing rock massif that is a mountain climber’s paradise. Czech Switzerland is a world of rock towers, caves, and bizarre rock formations. In Czech, the German part of the Lusatian Mountains is called “Žitavské hory” (the Zittau Mountains). The town of Zittau on the German side is a point of departure to the area.
In the 15th and 16th centuries, the area surrounding the Lusatian Mountains, as well as the mountains themselves, experienced a rapid boom in glass-making. Numerous small private glassworks remain in operation to this day. Later on, the district focused its attention on manufacturing textiles, especially in the border town of Varnsdorf. Its significance, however, has been on the decline since 1990 and individual factories have been shutting down in succession. Local residents are increasingly seeking employment outside of the region. Therefore, the entire region consists primarily of cottagers and tourists who come to the area for its unique countryside and peaceful atmosphere.
The region has a long tradition of hiking. The first marked trails began to appear in the first half of the 19th century and usually crossed the Czech-German border. After the Second World War, a number of the trails were cut off completely, and some of the border crossings were absolutely closed to hikers for several long decades. In 1989 (after the fall of the Iron Curtain), the opening of the borders allowed well-maintained hiking paths and the Sasko paths to be reconnected to the Czech side. The trails from Jedlová through Zlatý vrch and Studenec, from Chřibská or Rybniště to Česká Kamenice, from Dolní Podluží under Klíč, from Svor through Kytlice to Polevsko, or the ascent to Luž are among the most attractive marked hiking paths.
Educational trails offer an interesting variant. We recommend the international educational trail in the Lusatian and Zittau Mountains. It crosses the state border twice, and there are 27 stops with information signboards in Czech and German along the way.
The Lusatian Mountains and the outskirts of Děčín are a mountain biker’s paradise. Several mountain bike competitions that take place in the region every year are also testaments to this. The district also attracts recreational bikers because of its numerous clearly-marked trails. Two of the more interesting trails are trail no. 3013, which runs from Kyjov přes Krásnou lípu to Kytlice, and trail no. 3052, which runs from Česká Kamenice to Chřibská. Several trails also lead into German border towns.
The Lusatian Mountains are modestly sized mountains (their highest point is Luže – 793 metres). Nevertheless, they boast conditions that appeal to ski buffs, though these conditions are quite humble in comparison with, for instance, the neighbouring Jizera Mountains. You will find ski slopes at Jedlová and Tolštejn (the starting point is Jiřetín pod Jedlovou), in Horní Podluží and Horní Světlé. The region of the Lusatian Mountains is full of attractive cross-country skiing trails.
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