Many of you will probably link the Sokolov area with lignite mining. Upon closer inspection, however, you will discover that the heart of the West Bohemian spas conceals several interesting monuments, beautiful natural surroundings, and several other natural and cultural attractions.
Pristine nature and fascinating scenery
Sokolov County is unique due to the diversity of its nature. In its centre is the Sokolov lignite coal field with the Ohře River. And on both sides, hills rise to the sky. The Ore Mountains lie to the north and the Slavkovský Forest to the south, making the area an ideal destination for enthusiastic hikers. For example, if you head out from Sokolov north in the direction of the German border, you will hit the town of Kraslice. To this day, the surroundings of Kraslice are formed by pristine nature with several rare species of flora and fauna – making it an ideal spot for a relaxing stroll. From Kraslice, you can continue to the town of Luby. On the way, you will see the natural monument known as Vysoký kámen (Tall Rock). These are impressive quartzite rocks that tower above the surrounding forests. The rocks are reminiscent of castle ruins and are a popular excursion destination. On the peak of Vysoký kámen, there is a well-tended vista, from which there is a beautiful view of the western Ore Mountains, the Slavkovský Forest, and the Bohemian Forest. The town of Luby itself is famous for the production of musical instruments.
Komáří vrch, the highest hill above the town of Rotava, is located between Kraslice and Sokolov Aside from the beautiful view, you will also find an interesting group of blockfields, granite nubbins, castle kopjes, tors, and stone streams from the Ice Age. If you like to discover natural attractions, then be sure to not miss the Těšovice Waterfall. It is found on the right tributary of the Ohře River, near to the natural monument known as the Ohře River Valley It is 2.5 metres high, and in the winter it turns into an icefall. The flooded Dasnice Quarry is also an attraction located some thirteen kilometres from Sokolov Operations of this former rock quarry were halted in 2004, and since then it has undergone extensive recultivation work. The lower part of the quarry was flooded, and new trails were created, thanks to which visitors now have access to the beautifully clean water, which entices one to take a swim on scorching summer days. New trees were also planted, so nature lovers will also enjoy the area. From the lake in the quarry, there are nice views of the Chlum Svaté Maří monastery, the Tisová power plant, along with the wider surroundings of the Slavkovský Forest.
We also recommend visiting the Rotava Organ, since it ranks among the most beautiful geological formations in our country. This massive rock face was once created by a rock quarry, since declared a protected natural monument. It consists of twelve-metre high, fan-like prisms, which truly look like organ pipes. The basalt organ has characteristic columnar separations created by cooling lava, and which converge from all sides to a common centre, thus forming a superb spectacle. However, there is no need to just look. If you hike up the peak of the volcano from the left, you can walk along the basalt crest and enjoy the beautiful panorama of the town of Rotava and of the Kraslice Region.
There are many monuments and interesting sites worth visiting in Sokolov. Directly in the centre of town, you can find the protected cultural monument of the Sokolov Chateau. It has been standing there since the mid-13th century, and its current appearance was primarily influenced by the Gothic and Baroque renovations. In 1960, the regional museum was established in part of the chateau, and its exhibits focus on the history of the region, mining, ecology, and geology. You can also find samples of porcelain and glass from the local glassworks, or the library of the museum that may boast more than six thousand books.
Other local monuments that deserve your attention are the Capuchin monastery with the Church of St Anthony of Padua and the Nostitz Family Tomb. The monastery and church were constructed in the 17th century, only to be abolished by the communist regime. In the 1950s, the Czechoslovak Army was based here, and later even served as a warehouse. It was in this period that the monastery with the church fell into great disrepair. The Nostitz Family Tomb met a similar fate, as it became the victim of treasure hunters. Now it is a beautiful complex consisting of several buildings surrounding a square enclosed garden, recently reconstructed and serving as a concert and exhibition venue. And since 2011, Permon beer has been brewed at this site.
Directly in town, you can visit the Hard Lookout Tower. The stone lookout tower stands on the site of a former lookout tower. Today’s lookout tower is approximately four metres shorter than the original one, from which it differs in minute details. Although the view of the town centre is covered by tall trees, you can see one of the local surface mines in detail. The current name of “Hard” is the new name of the hill formerly known as Hartberg. A cemetery and a shooting range used to be here.
Seven kilometres to the north-west of Sokolov, one of the oldest monuments of our country can be found: Hartenberg Castle. In the past, it was often besieged and plundered, until finally succumbing to a devastating fire in 1985. However, volunteers from many countries care about its fate, and come to the ruins of Hartenberg each year to gradually reconstruct it on their own. Also, popular events take place, such as the Hartenberg Haunting, Hartenberg (Un)Schooling, or the St Nicholas Ride. If you like dramatic historical events and beautiful nature, Hartenberg Castle will enthral you!
And some fun
If you are heading for Sokolov in the summer months, it pays to know the names of Michal and Medard. Whereas Michal is the name of the popular natural swimming hole with a toboggan and a full range of attractions created on the site of a former surface mine, Medard is an interesting lake project still in the making. The lake area is a mine with the same name that is being recultivated and gradually filled with water, located west of the city, as well as several other neighbouring mines. It is expected to be used for water sports, and an extensive holiday resort is being constructed in its surroundings.
Aside from the swimming holes of Michal, Sokolov has an indoor water park. Golf players of golf can set out for the golf course in Dolní Rychnov, and fans of technology will have fun at the Technology Museum found in the former underground nuclear shelter, where you can also find a bicycle and scooter rental. Those who love traditional crafts and who would like to try out their methods on their own can visit Bernard Farm.
The surroundings of Sokolov are also densely interwoven with cycle trails, so if you love to go on bicycle excursions, check out our local offer. And cyclists, just like in-line skaters or pedestrians, will surely appreciate Bohemia Forest Park, located in a former lignite mine, which, thanks to its paved surfaces, is ideal for diverse types of active rest. The park offers freely accessible sports grounds with equipment for conditioning and workout activities, a roller-skating track, and a terrain trail for single track mountain biking. During the year, several cultural and social events take place here. The grounds are adjacent to the sports stadium for volleyball, basketball, or foot tennis, to the outdoor fields for football and five-a-side football with natural and artificial grass, surfaces with workout equipment, and a terrain trail for cyclists. Also, an educational trail leads through it.
So, what are you waiting for? Set out to discover the near and far surroundings of Sokolov! You will surely not be sorry!