Zaly Viewing Tower
The summit of Predni Zaly (1019 m a.s.l.) between Benecko and Vrchlabi has been a popular tourist destination since the beginning of the 19th century because of the beautiful views of the Krkonose Mountains.
The first wooden viewing tower, actually more a survey beacon, was built here in 1836. Trees soon grew above the popular viewing tower, and the Riesengebirge-Verein association from Vrchlabi had a metal tower assembled in 1888, with a height of 15 m. Next to it, Count Jan Harrach had a wooden pleasure restaurant with a sun lounge built in 1890. The metal viewing tower became dilapidated after only 4 years of use and the District Council ordered its demolition.
Today’s stone tower was built by Count Jan Harrach in 1892 following a suggestion by the Jilemnice branch of the Czech Club of Tourists. The viewing tower was given the name of the Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph I. and was inaugurated on 7 September 1892. Along with the construction of the tower, the access road from Mrklov to Zaly was built. The restaurant burnt down in 1900 and was replaced with a new wooden restaurant transferred from the Jubilee Country Exhibition in Prague.
This restaurant ceased to be used during World War Two and a copy was built using a project by the architect Klos in the same place in 2009.
The viewing tower indeed offers good views of the Krkonose Mountains and the Podkrkonosi foothills area, such as Kotel Mountain, the Hanc and Vrbata Monument on Zlate navrsi hill, Medvedin hill, Cerna hora Mountain, Lucni bouda chalet and Mount Snezka. Some more remote places, such as the silhouettes of Jested, Bezdez and Ralsko hills, Trosky castle and Zvicina, can also be seen. The tower is accessible by foot down the red tourist path from Benecko. It can also be accessed by chair lift from Herlikovice. The stoner tower is the property of the town of Jilemnice, which supports repairs of the tower. The last major repair was done in 2012.