Podyji National Park is the only Moravian national park and area-wise it is the smallest national park in Czech republic. It forms a perfectly preserved river valley in the densely wooded landscape on the Czech -Austrian border. There is Nationalpark Thayatal on the Austrian side of the border. Podyji NP was established in 1991 on an area of 63 square kilometers. Territory stretches along the river Thaya from Znojmo to the dam of Vranov . The valley was formed by the river erosion and the resulting meandering canyon reaches a depth of around 150-220 meters . The slopes form the rock walls, difficult to access brash ravines, stream valleys and detritus hillsides with pseudokarst caves. The NP is characterized by extraordinary bio-diversity occurring in animal and plant species and their high concentration on a relatively small area. Unique is the occurrence of endemic rowan – Sorbus hardeggensis.
The beginnings of tourism in this area come from 19th century, when in the wider area of Vranov castle started the construction of romantic buildings used for pleasant walks, rest, recreation of the nobility.
These include :
Obelisk built in 1860 by Embellishing association of Vranov nature lovers in honor of the Countess Helena Mniszek (gratitude for making accessible the Ice caverns),
Mniszek’s cross built in 1846 by Helen Mniszek,
Clary’s cross built in 1830 by Stanislav Mniszek,
Lusthauz hunting lodge from the late 18th century .
The area of today’s national park was a major attraction for tourists until 1948. Events of subsequent years caused a gradual closure and isolation of Podyji. The area was closed until the fall of the iron curtain. The National Park has built or restored a large amount of historical, technical and landscaped buildings ( bridges , walkways , shelters and vistas ) that serve to the tourists nowadays. Today, the NP has developed the infrastructure that is ideal for hiking and cycling.