A new direct flight to Pardubice in the Eastern Bohemian region of the Czech Republic opens up a wealth of opportunities for UK travellers to visit this hidden gem.Ryanair commenced the new route this month.
Pardubice lies in the Labe lowlands, surrounded by meadows, forests and lakes. It is probably best known for its Great Pardubice Steeplechase, the oldest and most difficult cross country horse race on the continent and held here since 1874. Horses play a huge part in Eastern Bohemian tradition – Pardubice’s coat of arms includes the front half of a horse (from the coat of arms of the influential Lords of Pernstein who developed the city) and close by is the National Stud at Kladruby nad Labem, one of the oldest studs in the world. Here we see the magnificent Kladruber horses, bred here since the 14th century.
In the city itself we visit the Pardubice castle which is a Renaissance chateau right in the middle of town. We walk around its Gothic ramparts before examining many plaques on the town walls depicting myths and legends associated with the rulers and families who left their mark on the region. The town received a new lease of life in the second half of the 19th century with industrialisation.
Of course you can’t come to the Czech Republic without tasting the beer! Beer has been brewed in Pardubice since the 14th century and the Pardubice brewery was one of the first modern breweries in Eastern Bohemia, established in 1871. You can tour the brewery and enjoy a tasting of their signature beers including the strong Pardubice Porter with its characteristic dark foam and malty flavour, the classic Pernstein light beer and Taxis, a pale beer made from Moravian malt.
Away from the city a magical tour of fairy –tale castles and chateau takes us to Litomyšl. With elaborate decoration, gables, elegant arcades, romantic gardens and a mysterious underground, this representative seat of the Pernštejn family is one of the most beautiful examples of the Renaissance style and the chateau complex is now included on the UNESCO world heritage list. There is also Kunětická hora Castle, famous under the religious wars in the 15th century.
Lakes, fish ponds and spa towns add to the region’s gentle attractions and the capital Prague is less than an hour away by train, making it an ideal spot for a two centre trip.
Ryan air flies to Pardubice from London Stansted. www.ryanair.com
For more information on East Bohemia see www.east-bohemia.info