Pulčín – Hradisko National Nature Reserve

The Pulčín – Hradisko NNR was declared in 1989 to protect the largest rock formation in the sandstones of the Moravian part of the Carpathian mountain range. The NNR lies approximately 1 km north of the village of Pulčín on the southern edge of the Beskydy PLA and in the Zlínský kraj – Zlín Region and covers an area of 72.73 ha at elevations of 510 – 773 m. The reserve includes extensive areas of rock cliffs, blocks, boulder fields, talus and other pseudokarst phenomena. Parts of the forest growths have a naturally species composition.

Unique outcrops of Paleogene coarse-grained sandstones and conglomerates of the Soláň Member, exhumed by Quaternary denudation. The summit area of Hradisko (773 m) is in the form of a sandstone plateau 150 m long and 80 m wide. This plateau is divided by joints and their dilation led to the formation of depressions, sinkhole-like hollows and rock pillars. Around the plateau we can see the frost-riven cliffs and denudational slopes. The most striking formations are two exhumed beds, running parallel to the SW and forming cliffs up to 20 m in height. The rock formations known as “Zkamenělý kostel – Fossilized Church” and “Ludmilina skála – Ludmila’s Rock” can be found at the foot of these cliffs. These exposed beds are about 250 metres long and in the middle of the Hradisko slope we can see the larger group of rocks known as Zámčisko – Rock Castle. The summit of Hradisko is fringed by a wreath of rocks in the shape of a crown. Large rock blocks move down the slope and form piles and on the crevasses and joints caves are formed. Large individual boulders lie scattered across the lower slopes. Unusual “dry canyons” or crevasses up to 10 metres in depth are incised into the horizontal layers. The predominant soil types are mesotrophic brown forest soils.

The main forest type in Pulčín – Hradisko NNR are remnants of herb-rich beech forest of the Eu-Fagenion sub-alliance with beech (Fagus sylvaticus) and silver fir (Abies alba) and trees growing on the rocks include autochthonous Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) with rowan (Sorbus aucuparia). Herb species in the undergrowth include nine-leaved toothwort (Dentaria enneaphyllos), wood speedwell (Veronica montana), herb Paris (Paris quadrifolia), purple lettuce (Prenanthes purpurea) and woodruff (Galium odoratum). In more acidic areas of the reserve we can also find May lily (Maianthemum bifolium), wood sorrel (Oxalis acetosella), fir clubmoss (Huperzia selago), stag’s-horn club-moss (Lycopodium clavatum),  and common polypody (Polypodium vulgare). The secondary coniferous growths are predominantly of Norway spruce (Picea abies). The Pulčín – Hradisko locality is also of great significance for the occurrence of rock species of mosses, lichens and algae.

The farmer pastures with grass-herb communities at the foot of the rocks are undergoing a process of succession but many thermophilous plant species can be found here, including stemless carline thistle (Carlina acaulis), spiny rest-harrow (Ononis spinosa), juniper (Juniperus communis), matgrass (Nardus stricta), early purple orchid (Orchis mascula), Dyer’s greenweed (Genista tinctoria) and crown vetch (Securigera varia). Growths of bracken (Pteridium aquilinum) decorate the forest fringes and are also spreading to the former pastures.

The sunny rocks, dark crevasses, dry canyons, caves and remnants of old forest stands are the home of a wide variety of animal species. The reptiles – viviparous lizards (Lacerta vivipara) and common viper (Vipera berus) prefer the sunny areas while the amphibians – fire salamander (Salamandra salamandra), common toad (Bufo bufo) and fire-bellied toads (Bombina sp.) prefer damp shaded localities. Birds which nest in the old tree stands include the black woodpecker (Dryocopus martius), wryneck (Jynx torquilla), hazel hen (Bonasa bonasia) and red-breasted flycatcher (Ficedula parva). The caves and rock fissures provide shelter for the lesser horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus hipposideros), brown long-eared bat (Plecotus auritus), breater mouse-eared bat (Myotis myotis) and Geoffroy’s bat (Myotis emarginatus).

In the past the territory was utilised intensively and in a number of ways. The Pulčín rock castle stood at the Zámčisko locality in the 15th century but all that remain of it are the steps carved into the rocks and holes for anchoring the wooden beams. The most notable changes are the conversion of part of the forest growths into Spruce monocultures and the rocky ridge in the southern part which was deforested as a result of grazing. This very attractive landscape is visited by large numbers of tourists.

We recommend that you visit the NNR in the spring (May) or in the autumn (September, October) when the rocks are at their most beautiful. You can leave your cars at Pulčín village and continue on foot on the red marked tourist trail, which leads past the campsite and across meadows and pastures to the crossing of paths under the rocks. By following the walkway (blue trail) we can climb to the Zámčisko viewing platform on the site of the former Pulčín rock castle and on to the summit of Hradisko. Here we can find the Izby castellated rocks and after we have a look at them we can return to Zámčisko in the same way and then take the red trail and follow the “old castle way” down into the valley and the border of the NNR. On our right side we will see the former pastures. The red trail, with views of Zámčisko, will lead us back to the crossing of paths under the rocks.