On its way from the town of Loket to Karlovy Vary, the Ohře River squeezed its way through the granite massif of Slavkovský les (Slavkov Forest) to create a deep canyon where, at many places, rain and wind erosion moulded a number of imposing rock groupings, such as Strážce in the Kovářky massif, the rocky look-out point over Vildenava offering a breathtaking view of the river winding through the Kovářky meander or vast granite debris fields. At the end of the canyon, the rocky spectacle reaches its grand finale – the magnificent Svatošské skály (Jan Svatoš Cliffs). The almost 50-metre high cliffs were broken up into monumental stone pillars and spires by a complex system of cracks and crevices, which human imagination ultimately moulded into a wedding procession. For the same reason, the rocky cliffs were intertwined with a number of tales and legends of Jan Svatoš (Hans Heiling) and of a wedding procession turned to stone. Moreover, individual cliffs from the grouping of rock were even named after the members of the wedding procession.
In the period of Romanticism, the tales and legends inspired many authors to interpret them in their literary or dramatic works (e.g. Goethe, Körner, Spiess, Mužík, or the Grimm brothers). Jindřich Marschner used the motif of the legend in his famous opera Hans Heiling. Svatošské skály thus began attracting tourists and spa guests and became a popular destination not only for hikers but also for watermen, cyclists and rock climbers, and, unfortunately, also for motorists and coach excursions.
Even though the cliffs are only a few minutes' walk from Karlovy Vary, there is a lot of traffic on the narrow road between Doubí and the cliffs throughout the season. If you ride on the road on your bike, you ought to be very careful to make sure you do not get run over by a crazy passionate driver. The rock town is located on a cycle path leading from Loket to Karlovy Vary, which is a part of the backbone cycle route No.204. After its completion in 2003, the cycle path has become the most popular cycling route in the Karlovy Vary Region and it is quite busy in the season. In the vicinity of the cliffs, you will find a restaurant, and a water camp with a suspension bridge over the Ohře. The cliffs are undoubtedly the top climbing area in the Karlovy Vary Region and they tend to get quite crowded in nice weather. Thanks to the large number of climbing routes, however, everyone gets a chance to test his or her climbing skills. Climbing difficulty (grade) ranges between III – IX and thus, beginners as well as experienced rock climbers will certainly get the most of the climb. Let us get back to the cliffs, though.
For its uniqueness, the rock town was declared a natural monument in 1993 (along with the Kladské rašeliny peat bogs, the cliffs became the first natural monument and reserve in the region) and on 11 June 2007, Svatošské skály have been declared a national nature monument. The aim is to protect the geomorphologically unique granite rock formations with fragments of original pine forests that are home to a number of rare and endangered plant species. The rock formations are composed of the so-called Loket granite (porphyry biotic granite with large orthoclase crystals), which is characterised by block breakage.