When the first military bulldozers rolled into Mušov one morning forty years ago, the last opponents of a megalomaniacal plan by the socialist government realized that the fate of the village and of an important archaeological site was sealed.
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The extensive floodplain forests along the banks of the river Dyje along with the village, from which five hundred inhabitants had to leave their homes, disappeared under the surface of the vast Nové Mlýny reservoir.
There were two official reasons why nature and people were forced to give way: the need for irrigation and flood control. But one unofficial reason was also spoken of. The body of water apparently was to be visible from outer space. In the Czech Republic, there isn’t a more controversial construction project than this, with the possible exception of nuclear power plants, and the local people dubbed the huge reservoir the Moravian sea.
Photos: Demolition of the village of Mušov, A historical postcard of Mušov (© Klub vojenské historie Litobratřice)
The village of Mušov was officially erased from the map in 1980. The only monument to its long history is the Church of St. Leonard, which stands on an island in the middle of a vast body of water. According to some old-timers, it survived thanks to its patron, a hermit known for numerous miracles. Miracles, however, did not protect all the valuable treasures of the distant past. On one of the islands in the Věstonice Reservoir is a burial ground from the time of the Great Moravian Empire, and it is likely that many monuments are hidden at the bottom of the reservoir.
Photos: Pálava (© Jan Miklín)
Today: A splendid summer holiday
The Nové Mlýny reservoir system lies at the edge of a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and is comprised of three reservoirs, which are now used by recreational users and anglers. It is also home to several rare animal species, for which a nature reserve in the central reservoir with artificial islands is set aside for nesting. When you walk along the dam, you will hear the cries of gulls, and if you’re lucky you may catch a glimpse of a falcon or an eagle.
Every year, the Nové Mlýny reservoirs attract scores of swimmers and water sports enthusiasts to its shores. You can enjoy an ideal summer holiday here or just stop off for a few days during your travels through the Czech Republic. Its biggest draw is the possibility to combine an active holiday with relaxation – and you can count on plenty to choose from: indoor and outdoor sports facilities, wellness centres, a dense network of hiking and cycling trails. You can also explore the Nové Mlýny reservoirs from the deck of an excursion boat. The most popular recreational area is around the village of Pasohlávky, where you’ll find sandy and grassy beaches with gradual slopes into the water that are are particularly ideal for families with children.
Due to its size and favourable southeast and northwest winds, the Musov reservoir is a popular destination for surfers and kiters. Local enthusiasts will frankly admit that you can find windier locations, but rarely can you find such a romantic place to catch a wave or a breeze. When conditions are right, waves can reach up to 1.5 metres on the eastern side near the Mars campsite, offering an unequalled sunset ride with a beautiful view of the white Pálava hills.
Photos: The Mušov Reservoir is paradise for surfers (© Jan Miklín)
Pálava on foot
Towering above the rugged Pálava hills are two medieval ruins – Dívčí (Maiden’s) Castle and the even lovelier Sirotčí (Orphan’s) Castle. Leading through the entire small mountain chain, from Mikulov in the south to Dolní Věstonice in the north, is a red-marked trail that is about 12 km long and can be managed in a single day at a walking pace. You can stop for refreshments at a pub or at the charming parish café below Orphan’s Castle in the village of Klentnice.
Pálava by bike
It would be hard to find a location with better conditions for cycling than Pálava. The cliff-top ruins are the only places not accessible by bike. What’s more, you can look forward to numerous pleasant stops along the wine trails. If you are not tempted by the distinctive folk Baroque architecture in the wine-producing village of Pavlov or the Italianate charm of the town of Mikulov, surely you will enjoy sampling some of the area’s dozens of wine cellars in the evening…