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Deep in the forest of the national park rises a sandstone bluff. At its top once stood the castle Schauenstein. The spot affords a great view of the area around Vysoká Lípa and much of Bohemian Switzerland. The basalt summit, Růžovský vrch, rises in the distance.
The original clifftop castle was most likely built in the latter 14th century to guard the trade route connecting Bohemia and Saxony known as the Bohemian Road. The castle belonged to the Berks of Dubí before it passed into the hands of another of Bohemia’s influential families, the Wartenbergs. In 1444 Schauenstein was captured and was never rebuilt. It became a hideout for highwaymen and outlaws and soon established a place in the local imagination as “the bandits’ castle.”
Schauenstein lies on the red trail. Hikers can start at Mezní Louka or from the yellow trail at Vysoká Lípa. Climbing up to the ruin itself is a little tricky. To get there, visitors have to overcome ladders and steep stairs set in narrow crevices. Then the multiple clifftops are connected by catwalks. The reward for the tricky climb is an outstanding view of the landscape.
Today all that is left of the castle itself are the scantest remains. In the northern section, an indentation in the rock shows where the main tower once stood. There is a small chamber with a jug-shaped seat that may have served as a cistern or dungeon and perhaps was also used for storage. A cave in the rock below most likely served as a stable or gatehouse.
In 2021, work was completed on Schauenstein to stabilize the cliff above the entry and to fix and reinforce the catwalks on the viewing platform. In spite of these improvements though, a visit to the castle still requires that visitors be especially careful in poor weather.
Hikers who head to Schauenstein on the path from Mezní Louka will pass a natural sandstone arch. Known as Malá pravčická brána, it is a miniature version of Bohemian Switzerland’s main natural attraction. Unlike Pravčická brána, it is open to visitors who want to walk on the top and has a metal viewing platform.
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