Jizera mountains

Information and story about Jizera mountains

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The Jizera Mountains are situated in the north of the Czech Republic, between the Lužice Mountains and the Ještěd Ridge in the west, and the Krkonoše Mountains in the east. They have always formed a border line of Bohemia. Their rounded tops are mostly of granite, however, sometimes basalt volcanic rock may be found. The best known of the basalt places is named Bukovec (1005 m): it is considered a European natural wonder. Due to impermeable granite bedrock and abundant precipitation, the plateaus in the central part of the Jizera Mountains are characteristic with peat bogs and rare marsh flora.

turisticke-informace-01mThe highest peak is called Wysoka Kopa (Tall Heap, 1127 m, in Poland). The highest peak in Bohemia is Smrk (Spruce, 1124 m). Since many areas are natural preserves, in 1967 the Protected Area of Jizera Mountains was declared. The status means that the residual virgin forest, extensive peat bogs, rare vegetation and wildlife might be saved for future generations. However, the original leaved trees can be found at several locations only, and the prevailing woody plant is spruce.

The forest richness became the foundation for the fame of glass industry. The glassworks in Sklenařice is first mentioned in 1376 already. Farming has always been a hard job in the mountainous region, so people used to earn their bread from cutting trees, working hard to have fuel and raw materials; later glass manufacture and textile production were developed, becoming the main activities then. Thus, the first manufactories, workshops and first factories were established in the border region much earlier than in inland areas.

Although the settlement in the valleys along the rivers and streams was rather dense, most of the region stayed uninhabited and quiet, with incredibly clean air and water. However, air pollution in the 70s, originating from emissions produced by thermal plants in (former) Democratic Germany and Poland, heavily damaged the forests. If they had died, the water system would have been destroyed as well. Fortunately, at the beginning of 90s, thanks to the decision by the German government the obsolete plants were closed, and the Polish thermal plants were reconstructed, so the disaster was stopped. Adaptable trees were planted throughout the region instead of the spruce monoculture previously damaged by the emissions and insects, and the Jizera Mountains are slowly getting the previous natural appearance.

turisticke-informace-02mDue to the tree cutting and removal from the plateaus, roads were built, now used by tourists and bikers. Due to not very steep slopes, hundreds of kilometres of tourist trails, dams, rock viewpoints, and outlook towers, the Jizera Mountains have become a popular recreational destination. The terrain and climatic conditions are favourable, so people come to see the mountains even in winter. There are well-equipped sports centres not only under the top of Ještěd and in Bedřichov, but Severák, Špičák of Tanvald and Harrachov are popular as well. In addition, there are tens of ski jumps and plenty of ski lifts, and cross-country trails as well.

The towns situated in the Jizera Mountains are not industrial centres focused on traditional glass, textile or jewel production anymore. Thanks to the developing tourism, they have been recognised valuable starting points to enjoy the areas of peace, silence and original natural character.