Beskids – Czechia’s largest protected landscape marks 50 years of existence

Beskid Mountains (Beskydy)

The Beskids or Beskid Mountains were named a protected landscape on March 5, 1973. They are the last living mountain range in Czechia, according to the area’s director.

The brown bear, the common wolf, the Carpathian newt, the banded vulture and the white-tailed eagle are among the many animals you will find nowhere else in Czechia but in the Beskid Mountains. Other rare animals also include the Eurasian lynx, the river otter, the mountain vole, the capercaillie, the white-backed woodpecker, the black stork, the grebe, the field rattlesnake or the common viper. One of the reasons behind this rich set of local fauna is that the Beskids have a very specific forest composition, containing not just spruces, but also beech trees, firs and hollyhocks.

Source: Správa CHKO Beskydy

Wallachian Open Air Museum

Within the area of the 120 square kilometre protected landscape area also lies the Wallachian Open Air Museum, which features a plethora of traditional rural architecture and culture, including festivals and performances. Other popular sites include Lysá hora, the highest peak of the mountain range (1,323m), or Radhošť, a hill steeped in mythology on which you can find both a wooden chapel dedicated Saints Cyril and Methodius as well as a statue of the Slavic pagan god Radegast. Below the hill lies the municipality of Trojanovice, which has a chair lift leading up to the recently reconstructed Pustevny recreational centre where visitors can check out Maměnka and Libušín, two wooden cabins designed by the famous Slovak architect Dušan Jurkovič.

Libušín cottage and Maměnka hotel at Pustevny | Photo: Ondřej Tomšů,  Radio Prague International

Problems associated with mass tourism

Lysá hora | Photo:  Rob,  Flickr,  CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The Beskid Mountains are criss-crossed by walking paths, cycling routes and, in winter, skiing pistes. The mountan range is thus becoming a sort of “mass exercise hall”, the director of the protected landscape František Jaskula says. Lysá hora alone sees 450,000 visitors step foot on its peak every year. This huge number of tourists seriously threatens the nature reserve and, even though most of the visitors are careful, the natural environment of the animals is constantly disturbed.