Velký Roudný National Nature Monument

The Velký Roudný Mountain NNM lies in the parish of Roudno, around 12km south-east of the town of Bruntál in the Moravskoslezský kraj – Moravian-Silesian Region. Velký Roudný lies directly above the south bank of the Slezská Harta Reservoir and is a part of the Nízký Jeseník mountain range. The mountain has been protected since 1966 and the protected area currently covers and area of 81 ha (with a proposal to expand it to 132 ha), and lies at elevations of 640-780 metres above sea level.
 
Velký Roudný is the highest and also most geomorphologically preserved stratovolcano in the Nízký Jeseník range (and possibly in the entire Bohemian Massif) with several lava flows and a preserved volcanic neck, which was built of the products of effusive and explosive volcanic activity. Basaltic rocks of the volcanic plug are exposed as outcrops in the summit areas of the cone, and these rocks are also found at the start of the preserved thermal lava flows which flowed north and west from the summit. These lava flows are built of compact basalt, which passes into porous lava which breaks down into boulders. Four distinct lava flows can also be found on the volcano and these extend beyond the boundaries of the protected area. The longest lava flow (Chřibský les Flow) reaches around 5km in length, is up to 50 metres deep and partially fills the former channel of the Moravice river. The slopes of the stratovolcano are covered with volcanoclastic materials (tuffs), which are exposed in several quarries. Radiometric measuring of the age of the basalts indicates several active phases of the volcano in the Lower Pleistocene period.
 
In addition to the geomorphological features at Velký Roudný, the subject of the protection is also the complex of mesophilous meadows with high species diversity and the occurrence of specially protected and endangered plant species. This is the only meadow complex in the Nízký Jeseník range which is so well preserved. The importance of these meadows is enhanced by the presence of a number of subthermophilous plant species, which are bound to the warming substrate of the basaltic tuffs. The most significant landscape feature is the system of parallel stony field boundaries which are now covered with dense stands of trees and bushes and formed on heaps of rocks, which earlier farmers had removed from their fields.
 
The methods of agricultural cultivation of the slopes of Velký Roudný changed gradually during the last century. We can see from aerial photographs from the 1920s that most of the land on Velký Roudný was used for agriculture, not only meadows but also as arable land (farmers removed rocks from their fields before ploughing). Parts of the northern and south-eastern slopes were converted into cattle grazing after the Second World War. Grazing on these pastures ended in 1991 and after 1996 some areas were mulched and the hay in areas which are inaccessible by tractor was not cut at all. However, species-rich mesophilous meadows have survived on large areas in the monument. From a phytocenological viewpoint we can classify these meadows as belonging to the communities of the Arrhenatherion alliance. On the exposed basaltic tuffs in the small, abandoned quarry on the southern slopes and on the basalt outcrops above this quarry we can find a range of thermophilous plant species such as yellow chamomile (Anthemis tincotira), crested hair-grass (Koeleria macrantha), basil thyme (Calamintha acinos) and drooping tor-grass (Brachypodium pinnatum).
 
The north-eastern part of the Velký Roudný cone is covered with fragments of lime-beechwood and talus and ravine forest, but the forest stands are predominantly formed of same-age cultural spruce stands with an admix of pine, larch, sycamore and beech.
 
The territory of the national nature monument is quite heterogenous and includes a wide range of biotopes. Notable animal populations here include the 14 species of bees found on the meadows and reptiles including the viviparous lizard (Lacerta vivipara), sand lizard (Lacerta agilis) and adder (Vipera berus). Birds which live on the mountain include the goshawk (Accipiter gentilis), sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus), honey buzzard (Pernis apivorus), little owl (Athene noctua) and stock dove (Columba oenas).
 
The easiest way to the summit of Velký Roudný leads up from the Roudno – Křišťánovice road. A marked tourist trail leads from the information panel by the roadside and climbs through meadows on the south-western slopes to the summit. Not far from the summit you will come to a large table rock, which is built of volcanic material and is known as Čertův kámen – The Devil’s Rock. It was broken into two parts by the impact of volcanic pumice after an eruption. A bowl-shaped depression on the rock’s surface was left behind by the impact of the pumice. However, the local legends give us a different explanation. In the distant past devils lived and worked here and caused a lot of damage to the local people. God got into a fight with these devils and sent them back to hell and what we can see is evidence of the fight: God’s footprint made the larger depression and the smaller depression was made by the devil’s claws. Not far from this rock we may find the overgrown ruins of the tourist inn which once stood here.
 
The small chapel which stands on the summit was built in 1933 and reconstructed in 1998. An iron chest with the “summit” book can be found by the chapel. Behind the chapel there are 15 stands with images from the stations of the cross. Two stone mounds with crosses which can be found on the hillside are dedicated to the victims of the First World War.
 
A new, wooden lookout tower was built and opened on the Velký Roudný summit in 2007. this is a 20-metre-high, six-storeyed, wooden structure on a concrete base with a covered viewing platform 17 metres above the ground. This tower offers remarkable views of the nearby Slezská Harta reservoir, a panorama of the Hrubý Jeseník mountain ridge, the peaks of the Nízký Jeseník range, the Krnov and Opava districts and the Oderské vrchy Hills. When the visibility is good visitors can also see the Moravskoslezské Beskydy mountain range to the east.