THE BESKYDY MOUNTAINS IN THE CZECH REPUBLIC

It's a shame that most of those that plan trips to the Czech Republic only get to see the capital city of Prague when there is so much more in the rest of the country that is begging to be discovered. From the unspoilt outdoors to history, culture, culinary, and pamper experiences, there's something for everyone in the Beskydy Mountains and larger Moravian-Silesian region. Having seen a slice of it on a recent trip to Czechia, I can see why the locals love this area so much.The Beskydy Mountains are also known as the Beskid Mountain or Beskids for short. This is a massive mountain range that covers 600 km in length and crosses from Poland to the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and the Ukraine. Featuring forests, wildlife, and river valleys, these collection of peaks offer a pristine ecosystem away from the big city. There are a number of peaks to the mountain but there's none more famous than it's peak, Lysa Hora. In 1973, the Beskydy Mountains were declared a protected nature area, which signified its importance to the country. A big portion of it resides in the Moravian-Silesian region and it's rise in popularity is due to it's natural beauty, development of trail systems, supporting resorts for winter and summer, and a plethora of activities for any type of vacation. This museum of open all year round and makes a perfect pitstop as you explore through the region around the mountains. They've done an impressive job of transforming this ordinary-looking home into an interactive museum where an audio guide with Freud's fictitious voice takes you through the house and it's impact on important segments of his career. Caricatures from well-known Czech illustrator, Vladimir Jiranek, do an excellent job of portraying Freud's personality and love of humour. As if time has stood still, this 14th century fairy-tale town is small, approachable, and easy to explore. With colourful pastel houses and church towers lining the cobblestone streets, they all lead into the beautifully constructed old town square named Masaryk Square. It's in this square that you'll find perfect examples of Renaissance and Baroque architecture that hang above the arched arcades.The main attraction for the city can be found in the chateau which is home to the visitor center, an exhibition of hats, and a museum centered around General Ernst Gideon Laudon.If you’ve ever wondered where hats are made, this is the place to come as Novy Jicin is legendary when it comes to its place in the hatting industry. The Tonak Company stands tall with 200 years of tradition and while the factories are located outside of the old town, you’ll find a fascinating exhibition that features all the varieties of hats they make from the modern to the fantastically weird. Come here to learn about the hat-making process and if you’re lucky, also take on a mini hat decorating workshop. Spend a little time here and you’ll understand why Novy Jicin is known as the “Town of Hats”. Continue onwards from within the same building and find an interactive and educational museum about one of the most important military leaders of the 18th century, General Laudon. Learn about his contribution to the wars between Austria and Prussia and campaigns against the Ottoman Empire in the Balkans. There’s no town that has a more striking silhouette than Štramberk. Set on the rocky hill, the castle that once stood here is no more but a slender, stone tower rises above the town and can be seen for kilometers.In the 13th century, the castle was built to protect merchants on trade routes to Hungary. Today, it is a popular lookout point where a wooden spiral staircase takes you up to the just below the gabled roof and with open shutters, gives you access to 360 degree views of the town, Beskydy Mountains, Jeseniky mountain range and the plains that lead towards Ostrava. The Trúba tower is a must-do and is a fabulous walk up from the base of the town.