Springs of Vltava river

Vltava is the longest river of the Czech Republic, its length is 433 km. On its way it flows also through Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic. Bedřich Smetana, the Czech composer who lived from 1824 to 1884, was inspired by the river so much that he included it in his cycle of six symphonic poems “My Country”. I love the piece. It’s playful music and one can really hear the flow of a river in its tunes.

Vltava rises in Šumava and we decided to visit its spring during our last stay there. In spite of a rainy morning we set off early, got on a bus and went to the starting point of our trip. We hoped that the rain would stop but it became even heavier and we started our trip covered in raincoats, the lower parts of our trousers soaked in a while. To make it worse, storm started. Our children got really grumpy and I was wondering whether we shouldn’t have stayed in the camp. But we just went further and further, following the marked trail and it lead us to scenery I enjoyed and found interesting.


The notices above read:
First zone of the national park
Please enter first zone only on marked trails. Thank you.
Caution! Danger of falling trees! Enter at your own risk!

You find yourself in the area where no maintenance is allowed and dry trees must not be cut down. Once you enter the forest you may be in real danger of being harmed by a falling tree, especially if wind blows.


An exception was made regarding the dry trees which were too close to the trail. They were cut down so that coming tourists were not exposed to danger but the cutting down was performed at the height of approximately 3 metres and in a special way. The used method was expensive and slow but efficiently simulated a windfall.


As soon as we came near to the spring, our mobiles announced us that we were going to use a German network. It made us realise how close the the German border we were. From 1949 to 1989 this area was closed because of its proximity to the border.


The place you see above shows where the spring of the Vltava river is situated. But only at first sight. If you read the information boards displayed there you get to know that Vltava rises in several spots around and there is no certainty which spot represents the real spring. In the place above you can see just a symbolic spring bringing water from natural springs by a few hundred long wooden pipe.


The wooden lady above was carved in 2004. There is tradition here to unlock rivers in spring before paddling season starts and although you can’t see it in the photo, there was an unlocked padlock hanging above the statue’s head.


In July 2010 a path built on wooden piles was open for public to access one of the natural springs situated in a hard to access place, nevertheless after just a couple of years the path was closed because of imminent danger of falling trees. It is interesting that water from this spring is rich in silver, supposedly because the water flows through a medieval silver mine.


Vltava springs belong to the most visited areas of Šumava, five hundred thousand tourists are said to come every year. We were quite lucky to have met just a few people, undoubtedly because of the unfavourable weather. The rain made up in the end for the inconvenience it had caused.




    1. Keith, thank you. Discussions among professionals take place all the time whether the trees in the first zone which are bark beetle-infested should be cut down or not. I also like it the way it is now, I’d say that sometimes we try to control nature too much.

  1. The marked trail seems less obvious at times particularly if the weather is unfavourable. For more dramatic effects, a waterfall or river side walk is a great idea following a time of rain

  2. Hi, Petra. This place looks very interesting. I do like the idea of minimal human interference in the forest, put I also prefer a clearly marked trail. 🙂 You were brave to tackle it in inclement weather…and with complaining children.

    1. Linda, I also like the idea of marked trails, without them I’d be lost in a moment! 🙂

      I love our children but have to admit that sometimes they are a pain in the neck when it comes to trips. They are usually bored and uninterested and I don’t know how to make them pay attention to where we go and what we see. They just want to talk all the time but not about things they are surrounded with but just about their made-up games. This time it was especially bad at the beginning of the trip when it was raining heavily. But you know, we never give up and I believe one day they’ll understand. We bought compact cameras to both of them and they make it a little bit better. Sometimes.

  3. This looks like a great place to get close to nature and enjoy the forest and MORE! Im sure the odds are quite high of someone being hit by a falling tree, but if it was windy, I'd pay close attention.

    1. Sondra, I’m not sure whether the close attention would be enough if the wind was strong. There are many dead trees in the forest and I was impressed by the wildness surrounding the springs. I was so glad there were no crowds of tourists gathered in the place, it would have been quite a different experience I guess.

    1. Red, thank you. I’m really glad you enjoy my tours of the Czech Republic. When I write these posts I always wish I took much more photos to illustrate what I’m writing about but you judge the scene with different eyes when you’re on the spot.

  4. You live in a truly amazing place. I'm glad that you are taking your children to the woods to explore the beauty of nature. They might not appreciate it now, but when they get older they will have such wonderful memories and take their own children to the woods.

  5. I am one of the lucky ones to have seen the Vltava River while in Prague several years ago, Petra. But to go to the source, where it springs, would be something else entirely. Bravo to you for braving the weather.

    I was listening to "The Moldau" while I read your post and loved it in the background. Such beautiful images from your beautiful country!

    1. Ginnie, thank you. You never told me you visited Prague! It’s great that you liked the music. I agree, it’s nice in the background.

      I find it dangerous to be hiking during a storm and don’t feel comfortable when it happens to me but I usually don’t mind rain. We aren’t made of sugar to dissolve in it, are we? Sometimes I find the rain even cleansing, can you believe that?

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