To the southwest of the historic City of Znojmo and between the Dyje Valley and the villages of Sedlešovice and Konice lies an area of natural beauty called Cow Mountain.
Although it has an altitude of only 325 m, there is a difference of just over one hundred metres between the bottom of the River Dyje Valley and the peak of Cow Mountain.
Long ago a road led from Znojmo to Lower Austria via Cow Mountain. This road is now banned to motor vehicles and has become a haven for cyclists and hikers.
Adding to the natural beauty of the area, acclaimed old vineyards are planted on the Southern mountain slopes above the villages of Konice and Sedlešovice. On the Northern side, facing Znojmo City, there are many small private gardens with mini summer cottages , which have been a typical Czech phenomenon since the communist times.
The plateau on the top of the mountain is part of the Podyjí National Park and it is partly covered with forests and partly with unique heather and subtropical flora.
To help keep this moorland in good condition sheep are often put out to graze.
Some rare reptile species live here in particular the European Green Lizard (Lacerta viridis) which thrive in the clean and abundant environment.
The vast plateau of Cow Mountain, which would have been clearly visible from any roof or tower of medieval Znojmo, was taken advantage of by many historic military leaders: In the winter of 1631/1632, during the Thirty Years’ War, Catholic troops mustered here under the command of Albrecht von Wallenstein, in 1742 King Frederick the Great’s Prussian soldiers made camp here, and in 1809, during the Battle of Znojmo, The French used the position to bombard the Austrian troops gathered below the Vienna Gate with cannons. From World War I up until the 1960s the mountain was often used as a military exercising ground. Fortunately, those bitter days are now gone.
In the 1970’s Cow Mountain narrowly missed a communist suburban expansion plan, which would have built scores of concrete panel type apartment blocks, of the type which can be seen all over Eastern Europe, and a large dual-carriageway bridge was to be constructed to span the river valley. Luckily these plans never came to be, although up until a few years ago a model of the proposed monstrosity was on display in the town hall.
written with help from a document written by my friend PhDr. Jiri Kacetl