Lonely Planet Writer

Mysterious Czech Iron Curtain hydro plant about to greet its one-millionth visitor

It’s one of life’s accidental tourist hotspots created during the ‘Iron Curtain’ era; now it’s getting ready to welcome its one-millionth tourist across the threshold.

The Dlouhe Strane plant in the Jeseniky mountain range of the Czech Republic is an unlikely tourist attraction
The Dlouhe Strane plant in the Jeseniky mountain range of the Czech Republic is an unlikely tourist attraction Image by borshop / CC BY 2.0

High up in the Jeseniky mountain range in the northeast of the Czech Republic there’s a hydro plant complete with an artificial lake that neatly fits the mountain’s flat top.

Prague is a main tourist attraction in the Czech Republic but
Prague is a main tourist attraction in the Czech Republic but a hydro plant in the Jeseniky Mountains is pulling in tourists to the tune of 80,000 per year Image by Tscherno / CC BY 2.0

The Dlouhe Strane plant was originally built to balance up the region’s electricity demands.

According to News.com.au the reservoir which has a similar ‘lake’ over 500 metres below contributing to the stabilisation of the power grid is also a major attraction for visitors.

The plant was originally fenced in during Communist rule. However, its owner, the CEZ power company, opened it to visitors from 1996 with up to 80,000 people a year making trips to see it. It will pass 1,000,000 visitors some time during the summer.

Named after the place where it is located 1350m above sea level, Dlouhe Strane plant has been named one of the seven wonders of the Czech Republic, in company with mostly historical monuments.

The journey up the mountains to the plant and its two turbines is undertaken by bus as part of guided tours.

It is also possible to get up to that height using a ski lift while bicycle and hiking routes are also available but only for the very fit.

However, it can be more enjoyable to rent a bike to enjoy the cycle down the 17 kilometres of downhill ride on a bitumen road.