New tourist path opens to give more insight into the Battle of Three Emperors

Austerlitz

Every year, thousands of visitors from all over Europe come to the Slavkov - or Austerlitz - battlefield in South Moravia. Recently, a new tourist path was opened to take visitors round the venue of the famous Battle of Three Emperors of 1805, in which Napoleon crushed allied Russian and Austrian armies. Vladimir Tax has the details.

The battle of Austerlitz is also known as the Battle of Three Emperors, because the rulers of France, Russia and Austria: Napoleon Bonaparte, Czar Alexandr, and Francis I, took part in the battle themselves.

The 120-sq.km battlefield, which changed the division of power in Europe at the beginning of the 19th century, is protected by law as a historic conservation area. Most tourists usually visit only the main sites - the Pratzen Heights with its peace memorial, Zuran Hill, from where Napoleon commanded his army in the initial stages of the battle, Slavkov Chateau, Santon Hill with a model of a French cannon, and the old Post Office in Pozorice. The new 30-km network of tourist paths will allow visitors to experience lesser-known places of the Austerlitz battlefield. Frantisek Kopecky is the mayor of the village of Tvarozna, which took part in the project:

"The aim of the new path is to take tourists to other interesting places in the battlefield. Along the path, there are 29 information panels with text in Czech, Russian, French, German and English, complete with pictures of commanders and the emperors, giving interesting details of each of the places and describing what happened there back in 1805."

The Battle of Austerlitz, also called the Battle of Three Emperors, took place on December 2, 1805, and is regarded as Napoleon Bonaparte's greatest victory. Napoleon set up a trap to destroy the armies of his enemies Russia and Austria, by tricking them into thinking he was weaker than he actually was, and then calling in nearby reinforcements to crush the allied armies. Thousands of fleeing troops drowned when a frozen lake split under the weight of men and guns. French losses amounted to 8,000 while the Russian and Austrian emperors, present at the battle, saw more than 27,000 men killed, wounded or captured.

The thousands of troops of course left many a footprint in the landscape, and not only footprints, as Mr. Kopecky testifies:

"Even today, it is possible to find relics from the battle. About three weeks ago, I found some teeth and bones myself, and various items are often found during construction works. Terrain changes are still visible in the landscape. The new tourist path will take visitors to some of these interesting but not very well known places."

The individual stops of the new Austerlitz battlefield tourist path are accessible on foot, by bike as well as by car. In the near future, new dedicated bicycle-paths will be added, making the historic area even more attractive for visitors.