While wandering around Špindlerův Mlýn and the surrounding area you’ll come across a series of signs and markers that you’ve perhaps never seen before, so allow us to tell you something about each of them.
Krkonoše National Park
The green marker with the Czech state emblem indicates the borders of the Krkonoše National Park (abbreviated to Krnap). The purpose of the park is to protect the unique landscape of the Krkonoše Mountains. It was declared a national park on 17th May 1963, four years after the Polish Karkonoski Park Narodowy, which was established on 16th January 1959 on the Polish side of the mountains. In 1986 the national park was extended to include a protection zone. In 1992 both national parks on the Czech and Polish sides of the mountains were made part of the UNESCO system of biosphere reserves as part of the Man and the Biosphere programme. This is the reason for the MaB symbol appearing on the Krnap emblem and on signs in the area.
The national park is divided up into three zones – Zone I (strictest protection); Zone II and the marginal Zone I and II are also marked with signs (see the picture). Tourist activities are restricted in zones I and II of the park, e.g. bikes cannot be ridden off marked cycle tracks and walkers must not stray from the marked footpaths.
For more about the national park, nature protection and rules for visitors, check the Krnap information centres.
The directorate of the KRNAP administration is based in Vrchlabí; the field service is based in Špindlerův Mlýn.
MaB - Man and the Biosphere
In 1992 both national parks (on the Czech and Polish sides) were made part of the UNESCO system of biosphere reserves as part of the Man and the Biosphere programme by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). This is why the Krnap symbol and signs in the area feature the abbreviation MaB – the symbol of this project.
The biosphere reserve is a large territory formed under the international UNESCO programme. The global network of biosphere reserves covers all the basic biomes on Earth. These territories are representative examples of cultural and natural landscapes in which man and his activities also play an important role.
Most biosphere reserves include not only nature inherent to that territory, but also areas in which man has made his mark – both types of territory can be found in the Krkonoše Mountains. This allows us to study how man and nature interrelate and to promote biodiversity in such areas.
Band markers have been used to indicate footpaths in Bohemia since the 19th century.
The colour of the middle band has nothing to with the difficulty of the route, but indicates its importance:
red: long-distance or ridge route
blue: more important route
green: local route
yellow: short route, connecting route, shortcut
It is prohibited to stray off the marked routes in zones I and II of the National Park.
Mute blazes and pole markers are also used to make to easier to find one’s way around, especially in bad weather and in winter.
The mute blazes of the Krkonoše, also known as "muttichovky", are tourist markers cut out of sheet metal and painted red. They are generally placed on top of the wooden posts of the Krkonoše pole markers. They are there so that the route can be seen even in poor visibility and freezing conditions, when normal markers might be hard or impossible to read.
Important mountain chalets, peaks, settlements and other towns (a total of 30 sites) in the Krkonoše Mountains have their own red symbol. Here are those that can be found in the area around Špindlerův Mlýn.
Mute blazes have been used since 1923. They were created by Kamil Vladislav Muttich (sometimes erroneously referred to as Kamil Vlastimil Muttich) (1873–1924), a painter and skier and the founder of the Himalaja skiers’ association in Mladá Boleslav.
Mute blazes also survived the nationality disputes in the early 20th century concerning the language used on tourist markers. The standard band markers were introduced on both sides of the mountains in 1945; the mute blazes were left in place.
Pole markers are used to mark routes which lie under snow in the winter. They are high wooden posts several metres apart along the route, making the way clear even when trails are snow-bound. In particular they supplement the main ski route markers on the ridge routes and treeless plains. In some sections the winter route goes a different way to the summer route. If there is no snow on the ground, it is prohibited to use tracks marked with pole markers unless there are also the standard band markers.
The poles are 4 metres high, though in some places they have been blown over. The Mountain Rescue Service, which looks after the pole markers, deals with this where necessary by sticking new poles into the snow. The poles are brought up the mountains on scooters or are carried over the shoulder. In the summer, spare poles are made into cones, a kind of conical structure resembling a canopy or tepee that you might see along the way.
Pole markers on ridge routes in the Krkonoše Mountains can be seen on maps dating back to the 17th century.
Besides the pole markers, In the Krkonoše Mountains there are also Mutich mute blazes – red metal symbols pointing to important places in the Krkonoše Mountains.
The main Krkonoše Ridge lies on the Czech-Polish border. A border stone or boundary marker is usually a concrete or stone block protruding from the ground, indicating a point on the border between two countries. On the sides of the stone there are letters indicating to which side of the border it belongs - "C" on the Czech side and "P" on the Polish. The border generally comprises a line of these stones.
The Czech border stones are numbered and this system is used on maps of the Czech Tourist, which makes it easier to find your way along the borders.