Poledník viewing tower - The history

The highest peak around Prášily has always attracted many travellers. The Czech name [literally: meridian] probably came from local loggers who claimed that as soon as the sun rose over the top of this mountain, it was high noon and thus time for lunch. Although the peak was located near settlements with relatively high population density, such as Prášily, Slunečná, and Zelená Hora, no mention has been preserved of any viewing tower or platform. The forested mountain-top was not historically favourable for views over great distances. The forest was cut down in the area, but this was quickly followed by two world wars and the subsequent post-war order, especially in Eastern Europe, which closed the entire territory for almost fifty years. Only in the 1960s and 1970s was a use found for the peak of Mt Poledník. Of course the army was involved.

The convenient location of the hill and the elevation made it a very suitable candidate for the location of a military post, the task of which was to electronically guard the western border. As a result, the structure then erected on the mountain-top was integrated into the network of electronic surveillance of the border with the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG), along with four other buildings - Dyleň, Havran, Zvon, and Čerchov. With such structures and equipment placed inside, troops of the Warsaw Pact (the military pact of the time uniting the forces of individual countries of Eastern Europe) were capable of having an overview of the communication between NATO armies. The technology made it possible to monitor radio traffic on dry land as well as at sea, and even managed to capture radio broadcasts of both police and civil radio stations from as far away as Munich.

All these military installations were kept as closely-guarded secrets. Mt Poledník had air cover from a squadron of helicopters based on nearby Zhůří (1,140 m). The secrecy even went so far that most maps of those years had no indication of the mountain, and roads on the maps were deliberately misrepresented or missing altogether. Additionally, the relatively extensive region bounded by the flume of Vchynice-Tetov, Křemelná, Dobrá Voda, Keple, the hill of Hadí vrch, and the road from Javorná to Železná Ruda was utilised by the army as a military training area and a shooting range (the military zone of Dobrá Voda), thus making Poledník's isolation from the world almost 100%.

This ended in 1989. The structure was left by the army that then sought to sell it. In 1997, the building was bought by the Šumava National Park Administration and an extensive refurbishment project was carried out. The neighbouring auxiliary structures were removed and the tower itself adapted for use by the public. Windows were installed in the fibre-glass extensions shaping the typical look of the tower and previously hosting the equipment for wiretapping and radars, and a new walkway was placed on the top of the building. The surrounding area was completely redesigned for resting and relaxation. The grand opening took place on 18 July 1998. Since then, the tower has served the public, becoming one of the most visited places in Šumava.

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