Deer Moat Trail: nature walk in the middle of Prague
The deer moat trail is perfect for a free stroll and will make you forget you are in the middle of Prague. You will walk through a natural gorge carved by the Brusnice River. The deer moat is just below the castle and is a secluded green spot and one of the quietest places in Prague to walk.
The moat is part of the castle’s natural defensive wall. Look up and you’ll see the slender spires of St Vitus Cathedral and the dark Dalibor Tower. Along the trail are a number of sculptures. You will pass through a brick tunnel that connects the Royal Gardens to Prague Castle. You will not lose your way because there is only one path.
Deer Trail: what to see
1. Wooded gorge, open grasslands and lots of benches to sit quietly
2. Bear cages and house of the bear keeper
3. Brick tunnel with a length of 84m
4. Brusnice River under a floor grid
5. Open in the summer season
Deer Moat Trail Walk
START: Chotkova street (na Opyse Street)
END: Brusnice street
LENGTH: 1 kilometer
1. On the right high above you, you will see the Summer Palace (Belvedere) which is located in the Royal Gardens. If you want to see the royal gardens, the singing fountain, the ball game hall and the summer palace, take the first path on the right that leads up to the royal garden. More about the royal gardens.
2. Continue the path through the deer moat. On the left are the fortress walls of the northern part of Prague Castle with three towers: Daliborka, White Tower and Mihulka. Daliborka is named after Dalibor of Kozojedy, who was imprisoned here. The Mihulka Tower was also a prison. During the reign of Emperor Rudolf II, it was home to a laboratory where alchemists tried to discover the Philosopher’s Stone, a substance that could turn base metals into gold. More about Alchemists in Prague
3. Walk through the brick tunnel that runs through the fortress wall. The overhead road gives access to Prague Castle.
4. At the end of the tunnel there are lawns on either side of the path. To the right is Jizdarna Prazskeho Hradu, the former stables now a museum. To the left is the Sternberg Palace, also a museum. On the left you will see the former bear cages. During the first Czechoslovak Republic President Tomas Garrigue Masaryk kept bears here. The path ends at a small gate on Brusnice Street.
Deer Moat: history in a nutshell
In the sixteenth century, the Deer Moat, Jeleni prikop in Czech, was a wooded gorge where Rudolf II went for deer hunting. Nowadays there are no longer any deer because they were shot by the French army during the occupation of Prague in the eighteenth century. In 1918, members of the Czechoslovak Legion donated to the then President Masaryk a number of bears that were kept in cages. In the 1950s. the bears also disappeared but the bear keeper’s little white house and the entrance to the (empty) bear cages are still there.
The deer moat opened to the public after the Velvet Revolution in 1989. The communist regime built a nuclear bunker in the gorge in the 1950s with secret tunnels to Prague Castle. After six years, President Antonin Zapotocky put the construction on halt due to financial and strategic reasons. The tunnel system was never fully completed. The entrance to the bunker is opposite Dalibor Tower and in the bunker is an apartment for the president. (not open for the public).
Photos Jeroen Schornagel