Event Archive

How time flies...

See how time flies on the Grasel’s trails. The trails were born within the framework of the project “Slavonice-the magic of a lost heritage” in the years 2002-2003 and from the beginning it has been developed with a focus on the protection and care of the local cultural and natural heritage.

Its aim was and still is the sustainable and environmentally friendly development of countryside tourism. See how this project has evolved, how the number of events organized has grown, how it has crossed state borders. If you come for a week, you may discover most of the trails and their histories...

Set out for the scenes of the robberies and hiding places of the dreaded “villain (in Czech “grázl”) Johann Georg Grasel. Come and hike with us in this untouched thickly wooded countryside, along winding rivulets, on the dams of hidden forest ponds, in alleys of ancient roads. ”See for yourself how a region covered with spider webs and threatened to fall into oblivion is gradually coming back into life to offer its strength and beauty to all careful observers.

Trails in the year 2009

What happened in 2009 on the trails

Slavonická renesanční, o.p.s., 6 April 2009 – Grasel’s trails obtained EU funding (Technical equipment)

For the 2009-2011 period, EUR 234,715 have been allocated to our border region (South Bohemia, Southwest Moravia and Lower Austria) from the Operational program of European Regional Cooperation Austria-Czech Republic. The aim of this project is the environmentally friendly development of tourism.  Current hiking trails will be improved and new hiking trails marked out under the mark “Grasel’s trails” in the area between the South Bohemian town of  Nová Bystřice and the Moravian town of Nové Syrovice, covering Slavonice, Vratěnín and the neighboring Austrian areas. The idea behind the Grasel’s trails project originates from an effort to provide access as well as to promote (but at the same time without devastating it) = interpret with sensitivity a local heritage from the times (the turn of the 18th to 19th century) when  Johan Georg Grasel (from whom comes the Czech pejorative term “grázl”/blackguard) lived, robbed and hid in the region.

Since 2002 six Grasel’s trails of an aggregate length of 80 km have been created. They form excursion tours around the towns and villages of Nová Bystřice, Slavonice, Vratěnín, Nové Syrovice. In Austria the trails are part of the trail network of the Thayaland microregion. The agenda of the funded project consists in the improvement of the trails (orientation system, marking, security, improvement of information on the trails, issue of new brochures, provision of guiding services, modification of the web pages, organization of promotion information and social events, etc.)

Given our commitment to an environmentally friendly tourism, we see as an uneasy task and at the same time a challenge the search and selection of new avenues to bring more visitors to our region in such manner that the local cultural and natural heritage of our region and its uniqueness shall not be endangered. Within the framework of this project the countryside will not be covered with notice boards. We intend to provide information on the trails (description of the paths and information on matters of interest) not only on paper but also through MP3 audiotapes and invite visitors in an adequate and smooth manner to adopt a responsible and considerate attitude. We wish to associate the term of “environmentally friendly tourism” with a unique and first-rate content, so that our visitors may look forward to coming back again on the Grasel’s trails.

Slavonická renesanční, o.p.s., partner of the Austrian  Zukunftsraum Thayaland is the project managing organization.

Events in 2009

·      On 25 April the already traditional Earth Day excursion took place. Its itinerary led us again on the Grasel’s trail. This time we selected the Nová Bystřice – Hůrky – Blato – Klášter trail. The program of this event was mainly the following: walk in a beautiful countryside, discovery of matters of interest, collection of waste on the paths (also a well established tradition).

·      1 May waste collection on the Grasel’s trail by the “Brontosauři”.

·      20 June - excursion on the new track of the Grasel’s trail from Slavonice to Maříž and back, lunch in the Restaurant OAZA in Maříž.

·      19 September – Excursion on the trail in Nová Bystřice, during which we played small games and grilled sausages

·      17 October – Village fair in Nové Syrovice

·      Excursion to the Grasel’s lookout in Vratěnín and running race on the Grasel’s trail in Českým Rudolec

The Grasel’s trails look beautiful in the autumn!

New brochures with maps

This very successful year 2009 ended with a meeting on the Grasel’s trail project at 5 p.m. on Thursday, 26 November, in Dobersberg in the Handl restaurant. The agenda included the presentation of many of the achievements carried out that year within the framework of this project: NEW BROCHURES WITH MAPS of the new areas of the trails in Austria, other events and programs of the Grasel’s trails (excursions, races, games, maintenance of the tracks, atc.) were presented with pictures and speeches. The network of trails in Austria of an impressive total length of 80 km, marked out during the years 2006-2008 was consolidated in three areas around the towns of  Dobersberg, Karlstein a Raabs. They now have the same “style” as the four trails (Slavonice, Nová Bystřice, Vratěnín, and Nové Syrovice) on the Czech side. Maps are available at the office of Slavonická renesanční, o.p.s.,

The trails in the year 2007

What happened in 2007 on the trails

You can discover the second Grasel’s trail in Austria in the picturesque town of Raabs.

The trail was officially inaugurated on Saturday 28 April 2007. Our Austrian hosts took very good care of us. The program was the following:

    * Mr. Mag. Rudolf Mayer, mayor of  Raabs a Mr. Luboš Kryzan, mayor Slavonic – welcome and introductory speech
    * New Grasel’s trails- Reinhard Deimel, director of the Zukunftsraum Thayaland agency
    * History of the Grasel’s trail project - Zdeňka Chadimová, president of the civic association Slavonická renesanční společnost, Slavonice
    * Partnership Statement of the Grasel’s trail project partners- Olga Žampová, executive of SR, o.p.s. Slavonice
    * Description of the Partnership Statement concerning the Grasel’s trail project- partnering organizations, villages and towns
    * Grasel and his time on the Czech Austrian borderland – remarks by Othmar Knapp, former mayor of Raabs followed by a walk with O. Knapp on the path leading to the castle of Raabs

Interpretation site in Nové Syrovice

In the course of the festivities in Nové Syrovice and Krnčice held on Saturday 13 October 2007, several interesting events took place: trees were planted during a march on the Grasel’s trails to commemorate the anniversary of the execution of Johann Georg Grasel. In the course of the march participants were offered warm tee and sweets, then the trees were festively planted and an information board about Johann Grasel was inaugurated in the local Sokol house where boar goulash was served and a cultural program had been organized. Participation was excellent. The weather was sunny although chilly. Mushrooms were still growing. The day had been perfectly organized by the mayor and his team and we all had a great time.
The trails in the year 2005
What happened on the trails in 2005

Excursion on the first cross-border trail “Grasel’s escape on the other side of the border”

Along the longest Czech cyclotrack - Greenways Prague – Vienna- in 2005, 15 events were organized on the occasion of the Earth Day. One of them was an excursion on the first cross-border trail “Grasel’s escape on the other side of the border” between Slavonice and Dobersberg. We met on Saturday 23 April at the fountain on the lower square of Slavonice and after reaching Dobersberg, we started our excursion. We were lucky with the weather, our guide was Mr. Wettstein, who works for the info centre in Dobersberg  and is also a Guide in the Naturpark and designed the trail.

New 2005 trails - festivities

The new Grasel’s trails on the Czech-Austrian borderland were officially inaugurated as local greenways trails on Saturday 18 June 2005. As a result, the number of trails has now increased to a total of four: The Slavonice – Dobersberg Grasel’s trail has crossed the border, new trails are located in the surroundings of Vratěnín, and Nové Syrovice.  The fourth and oldest one is the Slavonice - Český Rudolec Grasel’s trail.

“The trails have been configured, marked, and we issued a brochure on them with maps and information in Czech, English and German. The offer of service packages to visitors of the Grasel’s trails is a novelty. We will introduce it on the first day of the holidays” says O. Žampová, manager of the trails.

The program of the festivities which started on Saturday 18 June included several exceptional offers in Dobersberg: a presentation by Dr. Harald Hitz, an expert on Grázl, impressive narrator and the author of  the publication “Johan Georg Grasel”. In Gilgenber, we had an unique opportunity to visit the otherwise locked to the public chapel and castle.

In Slavonice,  we very much enjoyed the first performance of the original fair song from the year 1819 “O tom strašným Kráslu” (“about this dreadful garnishing”) as well as the demonstration of and possibility to try the healthy Nordic Walking technique.  The Grasel’s trails won as an appraisal of the cooperation of all partners the national prize - Heritage Awards 2003 Nadace Partnerství.

Project partners: Hana Langová – the Penikov farm, Ivan Kušiak – Slavětín, the village of Nové Syrovice, the village of Vratěnín, the town of Nová Bystřice, the municipal cultural centre of Slavonice, Zkrašlovací spolek Rudolecko.
The trails in the year 2003
What happened in 2003 on the trails
Inauguration of the first trail by Marek Šálek in 2003

They are certain areas where walking is dreadful. Take for instance a rutted path starting on the highway and ending up two minutes later on an illegal dumping ground or in the middle of sewage released on a field, or foot worn corn leading the hiker to a screened shooting stand, or hoof prints disappearing in clovers...

The asphalt roads of this border region were built for the military purposes, which they served 40 years. Are indeed all trails that led somewhere covered with brush?

A few days ago I found out that this is not entirely the case. In Slavonice a small town of three thousand inhabitants, at the frontiers of Austria, Bohemia and Moravia, a small Saturday party took place.

First, a bed sheet was removed from the brand new information board, this was immediately followed by champagne banging and a shy round of applause from the people in front of the local tourist guesthouse.

New connections between Slavonice and Český Rudolec were found, mapped out and laid out by a few enthusiasts from local associations. They named the twelve kilometer long trail after the robber Johan Grasel who wreaked havoc in the region two hundred years ago. He committed his first theft at the age of 9. When he was 16 the Austro-Hungarian courts issued a warrant for his arrest and when he was 28, hundreds o Viennese women came to watch his execution. It is said that he often spent the night in the surrounding woods.

Walking on the Grasel’s trail is a joy. The foot worn path is free of nettle and well marked out.

Woods alternate with meadows, shade with sun, grass with needles, and raspberries with blueberries. Springs turn into rivulets, brooks into ponds. You can see along the trail  a wayside cross, rockies, a cave, a dog cemetery, a unique sawmill; you  always know where you are, where you come from and were heading to. This may be described as an ideal Central European hiking trail. Two pubs welcome you at the end of it. The only minus of this day spent in the middle of the area called Czech “Canada” was that the crowd of hikers was composed of the organizers themselves and visitors from distant places, with nearly no locals. 

Not even representatives of the municipality of Slavonice (still managed by communists nearly thirteen years after the fall of the iron curtain) had made the effort to attend. Citizen initiatives have managed to obtain tens of thousands of crowns from EU funds and as a result saved money from the municipal budget. They invested time and efforts for free.  Whom does it bother?

This is a region which encountered alternatively good and bad fortunes, appearing to be calling the Austrian and Czech inlands for help: come and see for yourselves how nice it is here! Forget about the results of the elections, come and spend some money in the ex iron curtain area. On the square there is a great hotel with a swimming pool and a sauna and you can borrow bicycles at the reception. Under the tower there is a cozy coffee house with pleasant staff and from the tower on a clear day there is a great view on the surroundings. Sometimes you can see as far as Europe.

Marek Šálek

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