Podhorní vrch Nature Reserve
Podhorní vrch (Podhorní or Podhora Hill, literally meaning "The hill under the mountain") is the highest point of Tepelská vrchovina (Teplá Highlands). The hill has two peaks – Velká Podhora (Big Podhora – 847m) and Malá Podhora (Small Podhora – 829m) offering a marvellous view of the surrounding countryside. It also explains why our ancestors living in the area thought the peak to be the highest mountain in Bohemia. The hill itself is an extinct volcano – a remnant of Alpine folding some 30 to 60 million years ago when 1200°C hot basalt lava rising from depths of 40 to 60 km outpoured from cracks in the continental shield. Occasional lava bursts ejected high into the air quickly solidified and fell back to the ground as solid particles known as tuff to create a part of the casing of the hill covering an area of approximately 900 by 500 metres. The unique Tertiary relic is home to valuable vegetation communities and it has been declared a nature reserve in 1997.
In the past, basalt was extracted in a quarry, which had been in operation already before the war. The basalt was of very good quality and it was used namely as base material in road construction. However, when the quarry stone crusher broke down in winter 1968 and there was not enough money for its repair, most of the quarry equipment was gradually stolen. Thanks to its magical appearance, the hill has always been associated with many legends and mysterious tales. The locals believed that the rocks on top of the hill were the home of the Spirit of the Hill who hurled thunderbolts from the clear sky above, as well as hail and rain. Historical documents indicate that the Spirit resembled the Krkonoše (Giant Mountains) Rübezahl. He appeared before travellers in various shapes and forms and people avoided his abode. According to some speculations, it was namely this figure that had inspired café owner Zischka when building his nearby Krakonoš Hotel (Café Rübezahl) with an above life-size statue. The name of the hill itself – Podhora – is a mystery. The name is very old and historians believe it may be derived from some dwelling or settlement that had stood "under the hill". This hypothesis is supported by an old newspaper article in the local Marienbader Zeitung, which describes remains of strange paling structures discovered during the last pre-war fishing of the nearby Podhorní rybník (Podhora Pond). Unfortunately, plans of an archaeological exploration of the site were thwarted by the war.