- Alpine dizziness amidst low downs -
In the woods above the Trausnitz Ravine, five kilometres from the Znojmo city centre, very high above the Dyje canyon, there is one of the most enchanting lookouts of the Podyjí (Dyje Valley) National Park. At the beginning of the 19th century Charles Sealsfield (1793-1864), a world-famous writer, born in the nearby village called Popice, got fascinated by this place. He would often come here to sit down and contemplate amidst the enthralling nature. Sealsfield studied at grammar school in Znojmo and later philosophy and theology at Prague University. He became a priest and worked as secretary of the Knights of the Cross with the Red Star. However, he was not satisfied with the repressive policy of that time in the Austrian Empire, which is why he decided to emigrate to the USA in 1822. There he became famous as a writer (his masterpiece is the 1828 “Austria as it is”). In 1829 he began to work for Joseph Bonaparte, the former King of Naples and Spain. In 1832 he returned to Europe, but never to his home. He died in Switzerland. Opposite Sealsfield’s Stone, there is a wide ravine of the Salamander Brook, and deep down by the river, there is the so called Bull Rock. That is where the Znojmo Water Reservoir begins. It is also interesting to mention that in the 20th century there were plans to build a huge dam right here below Sealsfield’s Stone which would inevitably inundate and destroy most of the Dyje Valley as far as the Austrian town of Hardegg, including the renowned Schobes vineyard. Luckily, the plan was abandoned in the end.