Stop No. 1 – Municipality of Sobotín
This is the first of fourteen stops of the Sobotín nature trail. The 17-km walk takes you through the most remarkable places of Sobotín and its surrounding area. Individual stops describe places of interest of historical, natural, geologic as well as topographic kind.
One of the oldest mining settlements in the Šumperk region, the village used to be called Zöptau, Zeyptendorf or Sobecinna. The place name belongs to a category of names derived from a person’s name with the possessive suffix –ín. According to historical sources the personal name in this case was Sobota, the derived form Sobotín thus meaning that the village was in Sobota’s property.
One of the earliest references to the village is in 1351 when there is a church with vicarage mentioned in Sobotín on the deed establishing the diocese of Litomyšl. Another proof of the village’s early existence is a papal deed of Pope Kliment VI issued in Avignon on 12 April 1351.
Among others, the village owners were the Tunkl and Žerotín families.
The municipality of Sobotín lies at the altitude of 445 m and it is 12 km long. It also includes the attached villages of Rudoltice and Klepáčov.
The municipal symbols relate to industrial activity in the 19th century. The official seal, used since the middle of the 17th century, bore symbols of the local hammer mills – anvil and hammer, tongs and a wheel on a long axis. Until 2009 the municipality also included the nearby villages of Petrov nad Desnou and Terezín, which became independent on 1 January 2010 under the common name of Petrov nad Desnou.
The trail continues along the road on the right side of the castle and then to the right along the blue marked tourist path.
Stop No. 2 – Historical sights and places of interest
The village’s rich history is evident from the preserved sights. Church of St. Laurent was built in 1605 on the site of a former Protestant chapel. And it was this very church where during Holy Communion a beggar from Vernířovice took the wafer out of her mouth as it was believed then that administering it to a cow will make it give more milk. This act then became fatal not only to her but also to hundreds of other victims of the ensuing witch trials, among them the village reeve Jan Axman and his wife Dorota, both burnt at the stake in 1682 and 1683. The history of Sobotín is closely related to the industrial production promoted above all by the brothers Franz and Albert Klein. They had the village castle built on the site of an old hammer mill. In the 1840’s the castle was rebuilt and acquired its romantic pseudo-historic look with then still prevalent Empire style features. The complex was surrounded by a castle park with a pond and various small park structures. Between 1966 and 1968 the castle was again rebuilt by the new owner, the mining company Dukla Havířov. At present the castle is privately owned and is undergoing further reconstruction. The Klein family is commemorated by a mausoleum – a chapel with an underground crypt located in a large park. The structure had apparently been inspired by the work an Italian Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio. The building itself is richly decorated with sculptures and stonemasonry work (more detailed description at Stop No. 13).
By the main road to Ostrava there is a small modest building which used to be a tollhouse. Most probably this is the last tollhouse preserved in its original form not only in the Olomouc region but also in the whole country. It reminds us of times when a toll was charged on the main roads. The house dates back to 1839-1842 when it was built on this road (then so-called Šumperská or Jablonská road) by the Klein brothers’ company, listed in the Sobotín ironworks property since 1864. The duty to pay a toll on state roads was in effect until 1895 and it was completely abolished in 1902. The little house was finally reconstructed in 2011 when celebrations were held for the 140-year anniversary of the Zábřeh – Sobotín railway line.
The trail continues to the left and after 200 m joins the blue marked tourist path again.
Stop No. 3 – The bothers’ Klein ironworks
The third stop of the Sobotín trail offers beautiful views of the village, dominated by the castle and Church of St. Laurent. However, the 19th century view was much different in its distinctively industrial look. There were blast furnaces to be seen, iron hammer mills and foundries. The ironworks history in Sobotín dates back to the beginning of the 17th century.
In 1815 Ondřej Eisenbach moved his factory for steel and metal production from Galicia (a historical region in today’s Poland and Ukraine) to Sobotín. The factory produced mainly guns and it was one of the largest in the Empire.
The industrial production boomed in the 19th century with the arrival of the Klein family. At its heyday, in 1852-1853, Sobotín became the centre of the Austrian ironworks industry, running a branch in Štěpánov near Olomouc and giving employment to 2000 workers.
The Klein industrialists participated in the construction of the railway network in the Empire. In total they built over 3500 km of railways which was also accompanied by the construction of railway stations, tunnels, bridges and viaducts, many of which have been preserved until the present day.
The industrial boom started to decline at the end of the 19th century with the exhaustion of ore resources as well as due to ever stronger competition of the ironworks in the Ostrava region. Production in Sobotín was finally stopped altogether in 1920. The abandoned buildings and structures were dismantled and rebuilt for other purposes.
The machine works facility was taken over by the Šumperk company Velamos-Heinz, adapting it to a bicycle production plant of considerable scale.
Continue towards Stop No. 4 along the blue path.
Stop No. 4 – Mineral resources
The are of Sobotín is one of the most remarkable mineralogical sites in the Czech Republic. The local deposits are interconnected by a 12-km nature trail. Interesting minerals occur in six places – Pffarrerb, Smrčina, Steinhübl, Rasovna, Kožušná and Granátová skála (Garnet Rock). Tourists can enter the trail at the railway station Petrov nad Desnou-Sobotín or near the Maršíkov grocery shop. For better orientation the trail is equipped with maps. Passing through undulating landscape, following mostly forest roads, walking the trail takes about 4 hours in total. The notable minerals found here include for example garnet, epidote, talc or magnetite. This stop of the Sobotín trail is located about 100 m from a natural heritage site Smrčina and cottage “Sokolka”. The area is unique in the whole country. The local potstone body originated from ultrabasic metamorphic rock, containing minerals like magnetite, talc and apatite. The potstone consists of grey-white to light-green talc with fine scales, it is greasy to the touch and often contains traces of chlorite and actinolite.
The place has become a natural heritage site, lesser horseshoe bats appear here and hibernate in the former mine adit.
The trail continues to the right along the blue marked path.
Stop No. 5 – Local place names
The names of villages, secluded dwellings, mountains, forests and streams always have their origins and tell stories of what had happened there a long time ago. Walking the trail, we also come across places bearing intriguing names. These include Farský vrch, Smrčina, Havraní vrch and Svbobodín. Under the etymological microscope the names relate these stories:
Farský vrch (Vicarage Hill)
The name might reflect the fact that the hill used to be part of a vicarage estate, i.e. a relationship of ownership. The authors of the book Local Names in Bohemia, for instance, note that the relationship of ownership is more frequent with land estate names than with mountains. Therefore, it is possible, however, hardly provable, that the name was motivated rather by its position near the Sobotín church and vicarage.
Smrčina (Spruce Forest)
This place name reflects typical place characteristics, i.e. the cover of spruce forest. Interestingly, place names inspired by expressions from the field of vegetation and plants, of which there are many other exampples in the Jeseníky Mountains (Březina, Kopřivník, Vřesník etc.), could have acquired names either due to the fact that the given vegetation type covered the whole mountain, or, on the contrary, because the given plant was rare in the area and therefore unique, distinguishing the place (hill) from others.
Of course, it is almost impossible today to find out which of the two was the fact, however, it is true that spruce is rather a young tree species in the Jeseníky Mountains.
Havraní vrch (Raven Hill)
The name is a translation from German. Old 19th century maps feature the name Raben Berg. The place could have got its name due to the bird’s occurence, or there might be a metaphorical meaning according to typical attributes associated with ravens – black colour, melancholy etc. Then the name Raven could reflect the place characteristics – its “dark feel”, for example due to dense forest, or some negative connotations like sadness etc.
Svobodín (Freedom Hill)
The original German name Freiheitsberg (meaning Freedom Hill), later translated as Svobodín, reflects the fact that this settlement was established at a place which remained free (or without bonds) when land estates were distributed. The formal part of the name and the –ín suffix, according to some authors, could have been influenced by nearby Sobotín. Curiously, in 1869-1880 the village had also been referred to as Bedřichov, inspired by the knight Stettenhofen, its founder.
The trail continues along the blue tourist path.
Stop No. 6 – Adjoining village of Klepáčov and Skřítek mountain pass
The German settlement of Klepáčov (Kleppel, Klepel, also called Klepl in Czech in the past) probably got its name from old High German “klep”, meaning foothills or mountain promontory. The Czech name first appears in 1872 and it is derived from the German word. The landscape of Klepáčov is characterized by the Klepáčov stream – a deep valley with steep slopes on both sides. The altitude ranges from 660 to 780 m.
The village was founded around 1594 on the estate of Velké Losiny domain, after the separation of Vízmberk domain it became part of its estate. The local settlers were exempt from the corvee duty as they worked in forests providing lumber wood and transportation of iron ore to the Sobotín iron works. Despite this relief they had to fulfill their duties towards the domain of Vízmberk.
In Klepáčov there is one of the wooden churches of the Šumperk area.
The single-nave baroque chapel of St. John of Nepomuk was built in 1783 on order of reeve Antonín Langer. The cloister of Velehrad, as the owner of the Vízmberk domain, donated wood for the construction and the village provided workers. In the 1990’s the little church underwent reconstruction. There is a stone cross by the church, an example of early 18th century stonemasonry.
On the Skřítek mountain pass, still in the Klepáčov cadastre area, there used to be a roadhouse to provide rest and relieve waggoners and horses after the hard and tiring climb. Later, when tourism began to develop, it has become a popular place. The road pass is decorated with a sculpture of a gnome designed by honorary sculptor Jiří Jílek (*1925, †1981) who lived and worked in the village.
Continue along the yellow path.
Stop No. 7 – Rudoltice
The German name Rudelsdorf was used for centuries except 1880 when the village had a Czech name – Rudolec. Rudoltice became part of Sobotín in 1961. The village was founded at the beginning of the 15th century. There is also a number of legends related to its origin, one of them about a haunted mill near Rudoltice, a story full of betrayal, hatred and revenge. The miller and his wife moved to the mountain settlement from Dobroměřice near Vyškov bringing with them a kidnapped landlord’s son. This was their revenge for an unpaid loan. After much plotting, the miller’s wife gradually arranged that the kidnapped boy fell in love with his own sister and kidnapped her too to Rudoltice. The story has a tragic ending.
The story is collected in the Moravian Almanach from 1932, another version is noted in the first issue of the local history and culture magazine Podesní of 2006.
Thanks to the mining of iron ore and precious metals the domain holder Kateřina Berková of Dubé relieved her subjects of corvee duty. However, the lords of Velké Losiny, after obtaining the domain into their hold in 1578, did not respect these rights and introduced corvee again. In 1659 there was an unsuccessful serf rebellion against corvee demanded by Přemek II of Žerotín. It was suppressed and the rebels had to “kneel and ask the lord’s forgiveness”.
After the division of the Losiny domain, Rudotice fell under Vízmberk jurisdiction and the village had to give up its privileges.
The village symbols also refer to the richness of this area in mineral resources. One example is the old village seal depicting a windlass with a hanging basket and handles on both sides of the shaft. Above it there are two crossed picks and a spade, the whole being a representation of shaft mining. The seal inscription reads: SIGIL . DER . GEMEIN . IN . RUDELSDORF.
The richness in natural resources also attracted some criminal activity. Between 1751 and 1780 the Drechsler brothers mined silver on the “White Rocks” hill near Rudoltice and used it to forge money. After their disclosure one of the brothers ran away and the other was put in jail in Olomouc.
It is recorded that in 1770 the last lynx was trapped here and 28 years later the last wolf in the area was shot.
Continue to the bridge over the Klepáčov stream along the yellow path and then towards the Rybářská bašta (Fisherman’s stronghold) in Rudoltice.
Stop No. 8 – Rudoltice vogt’s house, bell tower and notable local personalities
One of the distinctive buildings in Rudoltice is the former post office and old school with unusual towers. Nowadays it is a large agriculture facility with a former vogt’s house which has been reconstructed and is now privately owned. Near the vogt’s house there is a wooden bell tower ceremonially consecrated in 1923. The renovated structure represents a monument to all citizens of Rudoltice who fell in WWI.
There used to be a bell in the tower which the inhabitants arranged in replacement of the school bell.
One of the notable village personalities was Jan Antonín Sieber, a heraldic vogt and the hereditary head of Rudoltice post office.
Heindrich Klein (*11/9/1756, †26/9/1832) was born in Rudoltice, a friend of Beethoven’s and author of religious compositions and sacred music, pedagogue and music life organizer in Bratislava.
Another noteworthy personage born in Rudoltice was Hubert Klein (*24/7/1885, †2/4/1947), an important mineral collector in North Moravia. He worked as a blacksmith in the agriculture machinery factory in nearby Petrov nad Desnou, later as a stone-breaker in the Krásné quarry. Parts of his mineral collection are kept in elementary schools in Sobotín and Petrov.
Continue along the blue path and after 1.5 km turn right onto the Hraběšice road towards the finger-post at Traťovka.
Stop No. 9 – Traťovka, a crossroads of tourist paths
The ninth stop is a place called Traťovka after a cottage which used to stand here before it burnt down. The site is a crossroads of walking and cycling paths as well as cross-country skiing tracks in the winter. From here tourists can follow marked paths to Skřítek, Rabštejn, Hvězda or to Sobotín and Hraběšice.
A maintained 9.5 km cross-country skiing track Vikýřovice-Traťovka-Hvězda passes through this place. In the summer, hikers can set off from here on a trip to Rabštejn, the highest castle of historical Moravia. Today it is a castle ruin.
At this stop you can enjoy a view of Hraběšice, dominated by Church of St. Philip and Jacob from the beginning if the 19th century. Hraběšice originated as a settlement of lumbermen and miners, iron ore used to be extracted nearby. The village is located in the valley of the Hraběšice stream, under the north-western slopes of Kamenný Hill (952 m). Along the stream a road to Šumperk and Nový Malín runs downhill, the opposite way leads to Rudoltice.
The trail continues along the yellow path towards the finger-post called Nad Hraběšicemi.
Stop No. 10 – Forest realm and flora
The tenth stop is an entry to the realm of forest, a home to plant and animal life. The flora of this area is not very rich in different species. Early in the spring butterburs and coltsfeet start blooming along the roads, on sunny forest openings there is corydalis, dog’s mercury, liverwort and toothwort. Along the streams and on wet ground marsh marigolds shine. Well-maintained meadows are home to common species like moon daisies, catchflies, bluebells and viscarias. Suddenly we come across an orchid in bloom – lesser-butterfly orchid. Much of the ground cover is composed of noticeable ferns, lady fern and male fern. On the forest edges we may discover the protected Turk’s cap lily. On wet spots with an abundance of decomposing wood we may come across a moss species of European importance – green shield moss. The tiny size of its pods (up to 1 cm) makes it almost invisible to most people though.
Continue along the green path.
Stop No. 11 – View of Praděd and mountains below, fauna and flora
The hills above Sobotín allow splendid views of the Hrubý Jeseník skyline. One of the highest mountain ranges in Moravia, it is divided into three subparts: the Keprník, Medvěd and Praděd Highlands.
The eleventh stop offers views of the Jeseníky mountains which reach the height over 1000 m above sea level:
Jelení hřbet (1367 m)
Velký máj (1384 m)
Praděd (1491,3 m)
Břidličná (1368 m)
Malý děd (1343 m)
Mravenečník (1342 m)
Vřesník (1209 m)
Homole (1358 m)
Continue towards the next stop downhill along the green tourist path.
Stop No. 12 – Springs and Sobotín area fauna
The animal species found in this area are typical of submontane landscape type. The terrain profile is varied, ranging from sunny meadows to dense forests and deep shady ravines and thus thermophilic animals meet species of typically montane fauna.
Invertebrate animals are represented the painted lady, for example, which is one of most world-wide spread butterflies and is able to fly very long distances. An interesting but poisonous insect is meloe proscarabeus, also know as the blistering beetle. Pools and little ponds are habitat and reproduction havens to two common species of amphibians – the brown frog and toad. The most frequent group of vertebrae are birds. In the local forests we can see our smallest bird – the firecrest – as well as our smallest owl – Eurasian pygmy owl. High up in the sky we can see circling the fastest bird of prey, the peregrine falcon, which is once more returning to its historical roosting places in the Jeseníky mountains. Near submontane streams we are sure to spot the grey wagtail and an excellent diver, the white-throated dipper. Common forest species of mammals are here represented by the deer, roe deer and boar. There have been sightings of the raccoon dog, a nonindigenous example of our fauna. Though extremely rare, lynx, the largest of the Jeseníky mountains predator, occur here too.
Follow to the next stop along the green tourist path.
Stop No. 13 – The Klein family mausoleum
Under Farský Hill the trail returns to the village. Before you enter it again, notice the large fenced park on the left with a remarkable building. This is the family burial chamber of the Klein industrialists. The building project was the work of Viennese architect Wenzel S. Baumheyer and on October 4, 1880 it was approved by the Šumperk district governor. The building permit was promptly issued on September 23 and construction work began a year later.
In 1885 the raw building was finished. The following three years saw finishing and interior work on the mausoleum, including the completion of murals and ceiling painting by Viennese painter Franz Jobst.
The project envisaged placement of 40 coffins in total. Eventually though, 14 members of the Klein family were buried here in 12 coffins.
Unfortunately, from the beginning of construction, the building has suffered many problems and mishaps. The architectonic solution was not very convenient for the rough mountain climate in Sobotín, and after 1945 it was repeatedly vandalized.
The village of Sobotín acquired the mausoleum into its property in 1997. In 1999 the remains were collected and reburied in the family tomb at the St. Laurent Church in Sobotín.
Nowadays, the village council is developing plans to reconstruct this unique object and revitalize the adjoining park.
You will get to the last stop following the unmarked path on the right, steeply downhill and onto road 1/11..
Stop No. 14 – Sobotín in the 21st century
The village of Sobotín is surrounded by picturesque hills, pastures and forests. Time has blown away the iron industry and the present shows a completely different face. It presents reminiscence of the past in the form of dilapidated but still magnificent buildings which, hopefully, will live to see renovation and find new purpose.
One of the proofs of the return and respect to the past is the complete reconstruction of the Sobotín castle and its vicinity.
Sobotín has also much to offer in the area of sports – horse-riding has a long tradition here. The rich communal life here is provided by the Sobotín Voluntary Fire Brigade Association, the Retired People’s Club, Sporting Club – Association of Horse Keepers and Friends, Gardening Club or the local vicarage. The village now has about 1300 inhabitatnts, there is a regional Desná Valley Elementary School and Kindegarten and the Diaconia of Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren.
Visitors to the village may enjoy the services of numerous recreation and accommodation facilities. Another curiosity consists in the local preservation station for indigenous crayfish. The breeding facility helps prevent the spread of nonindigenous species and supports the original crayfish population in its traditional habitats. The facility also offers the promotion of crayfish saving projects in the form of education and training, excursions and public events.