As part of my plan to get to as many spots in the Czech Republic before we leave, I took a colleague’s advice and went on a journey to the nearby…ish town of Jičín, Northwest of Hradec Králové.
Jičín is located in the Bohemian Paradise region (Český ráj) under the Prachov Rocks (Prachovské skály) and is well know for the children’s bedtime character Rumcajs.
The journey there wasn’t without incident as in my slightly hungover state I confused Trutnov with Turnov and got on the wrong train! 2 years ago this would have been panic stations, but upon arriving in Jaroměř (For the THIRD time since we’ve been here) I knew something was awry and promptly vacated the train and waited for a train back to Hradec……duuuuuuuuh.
So two hours after I was initially scheduled to be on my way to Jičín, I was warm and cozy on this lovely wee train/bus creature and the adventure could continue. Had I not been to Jaromer before I probably wouldn’t have even noticed and would have ended up 50km from my intended destination.
Having not been to the Northwest before I was excited to see what the scenery would be like, and it certainly didn’t disappoint, particularly with the layer of snow dusting the countryside as we chuffed along. Every time I was about to put Frank down, another photo worthy scene would like into view and my eye return to the viewfinder.
The train pulled into Jičín about an hour and a half after leaving Hradec and myself and a handful of other passengers made our way out of the station. The crowd dispersed on their own journeys and I continued mine to the old square, the centrepiece of any Czech town large enough to warrant one. As far as old squares go, Jičín’s is certainly up there with the best of them.
Walking to the old square you pass by the modern parts of Jičín, which like most other towns aren’t the prettiest save for a few decorated facades here or a huge bronze dragon statue there.
Before long I had arrived at the main event, the entrance to the old square, in the form of an archway under the obligatory clock tower. A clocktower that has an (I assume) unintentional smiley face on it in the form of a carved stone motif. See if you can spot it in the photos below.
After wandering around the centre of the square where kids were excitedly climbing the shoveled piles of snow, I explored the perimeter underneath the archways, where a myriad of shops, bars and restaurants tempt visitors inside. I visited Restaurace U Anděla on the far end of the square and had a nice Svíčková washed down with a Staropramen, while locals watched the ski jumping on the telly and shared stories with friends.
The trains back to Hradec aren’t too frequent and in my desire to have a proper meal I missed the 4:30 train and had to wait around till 6:30. I initially strolled around the square and the streets beyond but quickly realised that would lead to hypothermia in the below freezing conditions and wisely returned to the train station to await my toasty chariot home.
As it’s the middle of Winter, all was quiet in the town and many shops were closed so it’s hard to gauge the true atmosphere of the place during this season. Jičín is recommended in guidebooks as a great base from which to explore the surrounding area and if you’re driving i’d certainly share that sentiment. As a day trip it would probably be more lively in the Summer months, however the square alone is quaint enough to justify the journey at any time of the year. Now see if you can spot that smiley face 🙂