The Czech government has added 38 historic buildings, areas and objects to the country’s list of cultural heritage sites, bringing it to a total of 274. For the first time a dam, a train, and a hotel appear among the country’s most valued venues.
The designation “national cultural heritage site” was first introduced in Czechoslovakia in 1962 and to date some of the famous sites have included a former Celtic settlement, the archaeological find of the Stone Age Venus of Věstonice, and medieval castles and sites like Karlštejn and Vyšehrad. Now, the government has added an additional 38 national treasures to the list. They include, for example, Prague’s famous Cubist building U Černé Matky Boží (The House at the Black Madonna), Prague’s remarkable church at Vinohrady, Nejsvětějšího Srdce Páně (Church of the Sacred Heart) designed by Josip Plečnik, or the Premonstrate monastery in Želiv, at the edge of the Czech-Moravian highlands.
For the first time, a functioning hotel has also been included - Brno’s famous functionalist Hotel Avion designed by architect Bohuslav Fuchs and built in 1928. And another is the historic express train known as the Slovenská střela (the Slovak Bullet) built in 1936, which travelled at up to 148 kilometres per hour and completed the trip from Prague to Bratislava in four hours and 18 minutes. And then there’s an historic dam, Les Království na Labi, on the Elbe River. A little earlier the National Heritage Institute’s Jan Tlučhoř told me about the site’s history:
“Construction began in 1910 but was interrupted in 1914 by World War I. It was then completed shortly after the war ended and was the biggest such dam then in Czechoslovakia. It is an example of late-Art Nouveau and is considered one of the most beautiful structures of its kind in the whole of the Czech Republic. The dam is also fully operational - there are two turbines - so it provides electricity and also regulates water flow to prevent flooding. Until now, it was only open to visitors a few times per year, but plans are underway now for it to be open to far more visitors during the tourist season.”
Those changes should come into effect by 2011, Jan Tlučhoř told me, adding that the addition of all 38 sites and items would come into effect later this year, on July 1. The addition of sites to the list should theoretically also make it easier for local organisers to raise funds for additional promotion and maintenance.