The north-east Bohemian town of Jičín, which is best-known as the home of the fairy-tale hero Rumcajs, has been named Czech Historical Town of the year for 2016. The prize, which comes with a one-million-cheque for further preservation work, honours towns and cities in the Czech Republic that have excelled in preserving and renewing their cultural and architectural heritage.
The town of Jičín has been shortlisted for two consecutive years before finally earning the title Historic City of the Year, defeating 37 other towns which competed for the award. In an interview for Czech Television, the mayor of Jičín, Petr Hamáček, said his town won thanks to a long-term and conceptual care of the historical centre and its monuments:
“Our town has been doing this since the year 1990. We have reconstructed all the streets in the historical centre. We have an urban development plan, regulating outdoor advertising and setting rules for pub gardens. And we have really dedicated lots of energy to renovation.”
The town of Jičín lies in a beautiful landscape some 85 kilometres north-east of Prague and is known as the gateway to the protected area of Český ráj or Czech paradise. The town has a population of about 16,500, and boasts more than 70 officially recognised historical sites, including the baroque chateau built by military commander Albrecht von Wallenstein.
The town hall has recently launched a massive reconstruction of the premises, including the nearby Linden alley and park. Petr Hamáček again:
“It is a unique historical monument north of the Alps. Last year we completed the renovation of the outer walls delimiting the park surrounding the residence. We have completed the façades inside the building and this year we are going to reconstruct the outer façade of the Salla Terrena.”
The Historic Town of the Year competition is organised annually by the Association of Historic Settlements in Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia along with the Ministry of Regional Development. Among others, the award recognises towns’ exemplary use of funds dedicated to preservation work.
“We have been drawing money from the Regeneration programme since 1993 and I would like to praise the current government for earmarking higher sums for renovation of historical monuments. In the past three years we have also used some 50 million crowns from the Norwegian Funds. In total, we spent about 15 million last year and this year, we plan to spend around 20 million on the town’s historical monuments.”
The town of Jičín attracts thousands of visitors each year, who come not only to admire its historical sites, but also to attend the annual fairy-tale week, centred around the character of Rumcajs, who was invented by children’s author Václav Čtrvtek.