Some 4.9 million people have visited the Czech Republic’s chateaux and castles this season, which is 300,000 more than last year, the National Heritage Institute said at a press conference on Thursday. Conservationists expect the number to reach five million, since some of the castles and chateaux, such as Karlštejn, or Sychrov, remain open even during the winter season. Lednice remains the most visited chateaux, followed by Český Krumlov and Hluboká.
The historic town of Stará Boleslav, northeast of Prague, may soon become the Czech Republic’s “little Vatican”. The Catholic Church plans to turn the small town, an early Přemyslid stronghold built in the late 9th and 10th century and one of the country’s major pilgrimage sites, into a major cultural and religious centre.
A Prague 1 court has ordered a rare painting dating back to 1350, Madona z Veveří, to be returned to the Czech Catholic Church. The verdict is not legally binding and the National Gallery which currently holds the painting, may appeal the decision. The Catholic Church staked a claim for the painting which it apparently owned for centuries before it became part of the National Gallery collection in 1958. The gallery refused to give it up on the grounds that the parish lost it before the onset of the communist regime, sometime in the late 1930s, and so it could not be reclaimed within the church restitution law.
A team doing research at the former Terezín concentration camp in north Bohemia have just presented remarkable findings in the form of previously undocumented inscriptions made by Jewish prisoners in the walls of the fortress. The Czech-German group behind the ongoing Ghettospuren (Ghetto Traces) project had previously discovered valuable items in attics and cellars at Terezín.
The West Bohemian town of Bečov nad Teplou on Saturday celebrated the 30th anniversary of the rediscovery of the Shrine of St. Maur, a magnificent gold plated and jewelled ark that was rediscovered at Bečov castle in 1985. The American who played a crucial part in the shrine’s rediscovery, Danny Douglas, was present at the celebrations on Saturday. Douglas was contracted by the Belgian noble family that owned the medieval shrine and buried it under floorboards at the castle chapel when they were forced to quit the country in 1945, to recover it. But a slip up allowed the Communist era secret police to get to the treasure first. Douglas told Radio Prague that he is expecting full official recognition as the finder by Czech authorities by the end of the year.
The Czech government on Thursday approved a list of nine new national cultural monuments. The list includes historical and art objects as well as church monuments that are subject to property restitutions. Among the new cultural monuments is the Vyšebrod cycle, a set of unique panel paintings by Vyšebrod Altar Masters from the 14th century and a rare gothic painting Madona z Veveří. Before the additions, there were 297 national monuments.
The Czech Republic will be able to access over CZK 11 billion of European Union funding for the protection and repair of historical landmarks in the next five years, the Czech News Agency reported. The money is available as part of an Integrated Regional Operational Programme approved by the European Commission at the start of June. The Czech Ministry of Culture has drawn up a list of monuments for which it hopes to acquire funding. A ministry spokesperson said the Czech Republic’s negotiations with the European Commission can be regarded as a great success because the latter had not identified cultural heritage as a priority in the budgetary period in question.
This weekend, people in Prague will have a unique chance to visit some thirty buildings across the city, from historical sights to state-of-the art office buildings, which are otherwise inaccessible to the public. The event, called Open House, was originally founded in 1992 in London and over the years, more than thirty cities across the world have joined in. I talked with Open House’s Bohdana Rambousková and I first asked her about the history of the festival:
With the start of the tourist season in April hundreds of castles and chateaus around the Czech Republic open their doors to visitors. In addition to their historical value these sites have become cultural hubs, providing a wonderful backdrop for the concerts, theatre performances, craft fairs and historical fencing shows that are regularly organized to attract visitors.
The renovation of a famous historic building in Prague's Stromovka Park - Šlechta's Restaurant, a summer chateau dating back to the late 17th century - will begin in a year's time and will cost roughly 150 million crowns, city councillor Jan Wolf has told the Czech News Agency. The site, after decades of decay, should reopen in a special ceremony in 2017. The original project was to have cost up to quarter of a billion crowns but costs were reduced by removing some planned items, including extra elevators, stairways and washrooms.
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