The Comenius RouteFollowing the traces of belief and the teacher of nations
This route leads us back to the time when the Krkonose Mountains were a borderland and a hideout for many who opposed the potentates. This is the beginning of the 17th century, when the religious conflict between Catholics and Protestants was at a peak. Starting with the 15th century’s Hussite Wars, it had cast poverty and suffering over the country and was about to culminate in the 1620’s Battle of White Mountain near Prague. After the defeat of the non-Catholic Czechs the house of Habsburg entered the throne and began a “Re-Catholization”. The estates of the Protestant rulers were confiscated and assigned to the Emperor’s General Albrecht von Wallenstein.
During this time many Protestants fled across the mountains to Silesia. Among the refugees was the Bishop John Amos Comenius (1592-1670) from the Protestant “Unity of the Moravian Brethren” Church. He was one of the great European teacher, a humanist, philosopher, author and reformer.
In the mountain’s foothills, far away from Prague the Catholics’ retaliation was less fierce. From 1626 to 1628 Comenius found shelter in the castle of Bila Tremesna at Adam Zilvar von Silberstein who supported the Protestants’ resistance by mobilising fighters and scouts as well as by investing large amounts of money. In the castle’s library Comenius found inspiration for his fundamental pedagogic script “Didactica Magna”. In 1627 he temporarily lived in Vlcice where he also visited the castle of his favourer Vaclav Zaruba von Hustirany in Horni Branna. Today, the castle accommodates a Comenius museum. In the winter of 1628 he left Horni Branna and fled with his family and friends over the hills of Konfiskaty on his way to Cerny Dul. Today you find two chapels there, built by Catholics after his escape, to consolidate their religion here and all over the region with chapels, crosses and churches. Comenius fled on to Janske Lazne and Zacler. A small monument in the border town of Cerna Voda marks the spot where he left the country for good. Later he went to Lesno in Silesia and from there to England and Sweden. He became one of Europe’s most renowned educationalists and published various scripts and textbooks. Our tour leads us from Janske Lazne via Vlcice to Hostinne. The route from there back to the mountains with their beautiful views on the Krkonose mountain ridges is not easy to find. It once played an important role as a trade route. The arduousness of transport and travel over the mountains in former times is hard to imagine and the loss of lives was quite substantial.
Only after Emperor Joseph the II. decreed a “declaration of tolerance” in 1781, the Protestant “Unity of the Moravian Brethren” Church and other Protestants were able to return. In the meantime they had spread all over the world - as missionaries some of them even went to the Caribbean, Greenland, North America and South Africa.