CENIA mapped selected hiking trails in NP Podyjí for the Spaces4All project

The Czech Republic offers many beautiful and valuable places to see. For most of us, visiting such places is not a problem, but what is it like for people with visual, hearing or mobility impairments? What must not be forgotten when planning a tour itinerary? What obstacles can await them in the field? Is it possible to make it easier for them to explore natural and cultural beauties? This is what the Spaces4All project is trying to answer.

The area of interest of the Spaces4All project is the Znojmo-Retz region, which includes both urban and natural areas. The project is based on the assumption that people with visual or hearing impairments or people with reduced mobility, such as wheelchair users or people with prams, can freely visit national parks, cultural monuments and other interesting sites.

At the end of July, representatives of the Czech Environmental Information Agency (CENIA) and the Czech Paraplegic Association (CZEPA) together with the rangers of the Podyjí National Park walked the first 4 of the 9 identified routes. The accessibility of the attractive places of the National Park is a reflection of the rich and dramatic terrain configuration of the landscape, which is a “morsel” even for people without disabilities. The alternating steep ascents and descents require good physical fitness, for wheelchair users certainly a person to help in the most difficult places, for the visually impaired a companion to advise. One of the three mapping days was also dedicated to the Austrian side – the Thayatal National Park, accompanied by the Austrian project partners BOKU University and the Weinviertel region.

Take a look at the routes from the first mapping:

From Čížov through the tourist centre of the Podyjí National Park to the Hardegg viewpoint
Route approx. 7 km. Most of the route is asphalt. It is possible to use the reserved parking space for disabled persons at the last turn to the viewpoint. From the turn-off to the viewpoint difficult terrain requiring an escort.

From Podmolí to the Iron Stairs lookout
Route approximately 7.5 km. Mostly asphalt. Smooth asphalt – 1 km, then at the fork you can choose either straight on the forest path slightly descending or left on the asphalt slightly broken path. Forest path 2 km with cross-bridges, at the third fork right to the destination (Iron Steps – viewpoint). After the crossroads descend on a deteriorated surface. The return route is recommended on an asphalt road.

From the Thayatal National Park House to the viewpoint at Hardegg
A relaxing circular route of approximately 2km, following an earthen, gravel-strewn path with undulating topography, returning along a dirt track. Freewheel or electric drive is recommended. Assistance required to descend the ramp to the viewpoint. Toilets in the information centre of the National Park House.

From Hardegg to the new footbridge over the Dyje
Route approximately 3 km. Start from the car park in Hardegg by the bridge over the Dyje. The car park is equipped with a barrier-free toilet. After crossing the bridge to the Czech side, the field path continues along the meadow, then the forest unpaved path, followed by a forest gravel path with a gradual descent to the new footbridge over the Dyje. The footbridge is accessible, but too steep on the Austrian side. Return the same way.

Other mapped “places accessible to all” will be gradually published on the project’s social networks and CENIA website. After the launch of the project app, the routes will be part of it.

By mid-2024, the aim of the project activities is to cover all the trails identified by the mappers and national park managers, in the meantime mapping accessible places in Znojmo, Retz and their surroundings and processing them into a web application, which will also be available in a mobile version. During the mapping process, barriers will be identified where local improvements could be made to improve accessibility. Outside the urban areas, the main focus will always be on nature conservation, which must not be disturbed in the Podyjí National Park.

CE-Spaces4All project of the Interreg CENTRAL EUROPE 2021-2027 programme