Walking trip to (Svatý Kopeček) Holy Hill in Mikulov town and wine tasting were 2 activities we had decided for to celebrate the beginning of the tourist season on April 1. With this date, all main tourist monuments after a long winter open their doors to guests.
And why Holy Hill? I have visited Mikulov town several times as a tourist and as a guide but never had time to walk up to Holy Hill. Since I knew the 1st of April was going to be a sunny day, I saw an opportunity for a nice walking trip to the top of Holy Hill to take these breathtaking pictures of Mikulov town, Pálava limestone ridge and picturesque landscape of the South Moravia and more importantly to get to know place better so I can introduce it to you.
Holy Hill together with the castle dominate the skyline of Mikulov town and are seen from the far distance. Today Holy Hill was formerly known as Tanzberg Hill which can be translated as Dancing Hill. For centuries, it was a place for pagan rituals and unrestrained revelries. When the cardinal Francis of Dietrichstein made Mikulov town his residential seat he decided to put into a halt these revelries and on the top of the hill he had built the chapel of St Sebastian in 1623– the protector against the plague, with the Bell Tower beside and the Chapel of the Holy Sepulcher behind, in order to create a pilgrimage place. To the top of the hill leads The Way of the Cross lined with a total of fourteen chapels built gradually throughout 17th and 18th centuries. These Passion stations many built in the rock wall, serve to contemplation about Jesus suffering and offer a space for a break on benches.
Due to the location on the top of the bare hill, the Chapel of St Sebastian together with the Bell Tower were several times struck by lightning and they burnt down. But biggest catastrophe for Holy Hill came with the reforms of Josef II, which deconsecrated this pilgrimage site and this step caused its gradual dilapidation. It begun to be restored in 1861 on the occasion of the 1000 anniversary of the arrival of the St Cyril and Methodius to the Great Moravia in 863.
Today, the renewed pilgrimage site is popular among believers and tourists as well. In 1946 Holy Hill with an area of 46 ha was declared a nature reserve in view of the abundance of rare and protected species of plants and animals. In 2015 an education path with information panels was founded which acquaint you with the history of the place and its natural character.
What would be like not to taste wine when visiting the South Moravia? It could be equal to a crime.
The region of South Moravia is a traditional wine making region since medieval and today it is the greatest producer of wine in the Czech Republic. Over the past years, the region experiences the great boom in the field of wine tourism which means that starting in April until the end of the year there are many events connected with wine making, held in traditional wine towns and in quaint wine villages.
We were lucky to find an information about ongoing event at Sonberk winery at the occasion of the beginning of the season when the managers of the winery introduce visitors their vineyards and cellars where they produce their excellent wines. I was a driver and I could not have tasted wine when visiting winery but my husband fully substituted me 🙂
We learned about pruning of grape-vine and harvesting of wine grapes and what methods are using to produce a final product we purchase in shops. Wine making is not only about modern technological processes but as well about tradition, diversity, passion and above all about the feeling and intuition. All these aspects reflect in the taste of wine which you can enjoy in the modern building located in the vineyards offering a beautiful view on the Pálava Hills and on water reservoir of Novomlýnske Nádrže beneath. I definitely recommend visit of this winery for the great location, their attitude and of course because of their excellent wines.
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