Bike for Europe tour to visit historical Trees of Liberty in Czech Republic


This year the Czech Republic is celebrating 100 years of Czechoslovakian independence, and our Bike for Europe partner there, Nadace Partnerství, has helped to organise something extremely special to mark the anniversary.

In 1918 and 1919 Czechs and Slovaks planted thousands of “Trees of Liberty” across the land, with people from all walks of life sowing seeds around their new nation to symbolise the remembrance of their roots, and the importance of democracy. The stories of these trees will be revisited this year, people will be encouraged to protect them, and over the course of 9 days in October (20-28) over 2000 new trees will be planted.

That is why, as part of the Cross European Cycling Tour, the North Team will pass by significant Trees of Liberty, linking together the values and struggles that defined Czech independence, freedom and democracy with the pressing issues of today in Europe, which the tour intends to highlight and help improve for everyone.

“Lime trees, our national symbol, have also become a symbol of freedom and democracy. Nowadays, when liberty and democracy are threatened in so many ways, it is right to start planting trees again and taking care of those who survived the past. Recall some of our country’s most important values,” Professor Martin Rajniš, Czech architect and urban designer, says.

The poignant statement is easy to relate to Bike for Europe, and its aim to encourage communities to take action and build networks between refugees, citizens, sport clubs and organisations.

EuroVelo 7, the Sun route, has a number of these trees alongside it. However, one town in which the tour passes by houses two of the “original” trees, just metres away from each other and metres from the route. In the town of Tábor these two trees were planted on the same day in 1919. The Lime of Liberty and Lime of Freedom. The Lime of Liberty was planted by the town as a monument of national liberation, and after the Second World War the tree was groomed to have seven major branches to signify the seven years of war.

The Lime of Freedom was planted by students from all the local schools, but in 1943 was cut down on the order of the Nazis, allegedly as a dead chicken was hung from its branches, with a sign saying “I killed myself rather than giving eggs to Hitler”. But the local gardener secretly watered a small remaining branch, which by the end of the war was sprouting more branches. The citizens of the town placed a ribbon with the words “don’t die” on the branch at the end of the war, and the gardener began to shape the tree into seven new branches. The tree became Tábor’s public display of strength, dedication, and the fight for freedom, and in 2003 the tree was named tree of the year.

Just before reaching Tábor, in the town of Střezimíř, another tree of significance stands. The Lime of Liberty in the town was planted on the first anniversary of Czech independence, amongst other municipal celebrations. Over time the significance of the tree was forgotten, until in recent years the historical monument was again recognised and celebrated. On 28 September, just after the tour passes through the town, a memorial will be placed next to the tree, to forever remember the victims in the fight for freedom, democracy and liberty.

It may be 100 years since Czech independence, but the values of democracy, freedom and liberty are just as important today, and important in helping to encourage greater inclusion and cohesion amongst communities across Europe.

For Nadace Partnerství, active transport and the environment go hand-in-hand

Nadace Partnerství have been helping people take better care of the environment for almost 30 years, offering grants, professional help, and inspiring citizens, NGOs and different levels of government to get interested and involved in sustainable development. One of the major ways in which they have aimed to do this has been through connecting the environment, sustainable living, and cycling together through cycling programmes. There have already been two cross border co-operation projects that Nadace Partnerství have developed to promote cycling, and they have been actively involved in highlighting the benefits of cycling tourism, and cycling as a daily form of transport. They have also lobbied for better cyclist rights and improved cycling infrastructure in the Czech Republic.

When Bike for Europe passes through the Czech Republic they will have numerous activities they will get involved in. In Prague they will participate in a car free event around the cities famous streets, before cycling along the EuroVelo 7 route alongside Czech transport engineers, as well as meeting up with a number of local cycling groups and stopping at several bike friendly establishments on the route to Vienna.

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