The Czech Republic boasts hundreds of castles, chateaux, and churches which annually attract millions of visitors. Regular maintenance is a must – a task that requires not just a considerable amount of money but an army of professionals highly skilled in the reconstruction of precious historical sites. The Czech National Heritage Institute has just launched a pilot project aimed at educating new specialists in the field.
Prague’s dominant St. Vitus’ cathedral celebrated the 85th anniversary of its final completion and consecration on Monday with a celebratory mass. Although the cathedral was started in 1344 under the reign of Jan of Luxembourg, it was only completed at a very slow pace with funds frequently running out. A final push to complete the cathedral was made to mark the thousandth anniversary of the death of Saint Wenceslas in 1929. In spite of the slow completion, the cathedral is praised for its consistent gothic style.
The government on Monday named a new committee to monitor and oversee church property restitution. Instead of the previously expected five members, the commission will have six, including Justice Minister Helena Válková. The committee is to report to the government every three months, the prime minister confirmed. Other members of the team will include the finance and interior ministers. Representatives from institutions affected by property restitution, such as the National Gallery or the state-owned forestry firm Lesy ČR, will also regularly attend committee meetings.
Some of the thousands of statues, fountains, murals and other artefacts erected in the Czech Republic in the 1970s and 80s are set to receive better care and protection. The Czech National Heritage Institute says these works of art are among the most endangered in the country; to save the most valuable of them, the state-run institute is now planning to identify and preserve them.
The Czech National Heritage Institute says it added 46 new buildings and monuments to its list of endangered sites that should be saved in 2013. The additions include castles, stately homes, vineyards, a bridge, and abbey complex. Being added to the list is both a warning to owners that they need to take urgent conservation action and a means of helping them find funds for the work. In spite of the new additions, the overall number of endangered sites on the list fell by six to total 885 in 2013 after repairs were carried out at some sites.
Standing in the centre of the Clementinum – if you can locate such a thing in the labyrinth – you are surrounded by around a millennium of history and millions of volumes of books inside one of the most beautifully preserved masterpieces of Baroque art the city of Prague has to offer. This is the seat of the Czech National Library and the whispering and rustling that echoes through its grand halls add perfectly to its natural mysteriousness.
Prague’s skyline gave the capital one of its nicknames: the city of a hundred spires. But in actual fact around a thousand spires, belfries and towers of various styles and ages now grace the city centre. Some of them are popular tourist attractions offering great views of the city, others only recently revealed their mysteries. One served as an observation post for the secret police; another hosted a morbid display of a dozen severed heads.
Ten historic synagogues in Bohemia and Moravia are undergoing massive renovations and are set to reopen in all their former glory next year. The Ten Stars project includes such gems of Jewish heritage as Baroque synagogues in Mikulov and Jičín and neo-Romanesque ones in Plzeň and Krnov, as well as several other minor Jewish monuments.
Archeologists have been able to reach the underground parts of the synagogue in České Budějovice, 71 years after it was completely destroyed. The synagogue was built in 1888, but was later destroyed by Nazi soldiers during in 1942. Scientists found the remains of the foundation of the enclosing walls as well as small objects, which include pieces of shattered glass and stones.