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UNESCO sites in the Czech Republic
For a country of its size and population the Czech Republic boasts the
highest number of historic monuments on the prestigious UNESCO World
Heritage List. Since 1992 twelve monuments have been included on the
List and there are a further twelve sites at various stages of the application
process. Since 2005 the area of Cesky raj (Czech Paradise) has also been
listed as a UNESCO Geopark. All of the UNESCO monuments are easily
accessible from the capital city of Prague. Visitors can reach them all
within 30 minutes to three hours’ drive. The collection of Czech UNESCO
sites comprises historic town centres, Christian and Jewish ecclesiastical
monuments, castles surrounded by beautiful gardens, a village built in the
folk Baroque style and one leading example of modern architecture. The
Trebic Jewish quarter has a special place on the list as it was the first ever
UNESCO listed Jewish site outside of Israel.
ČCCR — CzechTourism
is a state-funded agency
of the Ministry for Regional
Development. Its main activity
is to promote the Czech Republic
as an attractive tourist
destination. More information
is available at
Prague – the treasury of architecture
Where better to begin the journey to discover the twelve Czech UNESCO
sites than in the capital city of Prague. Prague was included on the
UNESCO list in 1992 and the listing covers the whole protected historic
city centre.
Prague´s exceptional position among the UNESCO
monuments is not only thanks to the size of the site (863 hectares) but also
the architectural variety of its monuments. There are Romanesque
rotundas, Gothic cathedrals, Renaissance town houses, Baroque and
Rococo palaces, Art Nouveau buildings as well as cubist and functionalist
Kutna Hora illustrates the wealth of a royal town
Kutna Hora (1995) is just under one hour´s drive away from Prague.
Thanks to its rich silver deposits Kutna Hora became the second most
important town of the Czech Kingdom after Prague in medieval times.
Nowadays silver mining is a thing of the past but the beautifully preserved
historic centre of the town with St. Barbara´s Gothic Cathedral
reminds visitors of the glory of the royal town. The temple is dedicated to
St. Barbara, the patroness of miners, and its interior is decorated with
frescoes featuring mining themes. Vlassky dvur, the former mint and, from
the 15th Century, the seat of the Czech kings also attracts a lot of visitors to
Kutna Hora. The list of UNESCO monuments and sites in Kutna Hora
would not be complete without The Cathedral of Assumption of Our Lady
in Sedlec. It was originally upgraded by Jan Blazej Santini at the beginning
of the 18th Century.
Noble seats in the cultural landscape
The Lednice-Valtice Complex (1996) is located in the wine growing
region of South Moravia close to the border with Austria. This vast
landscaped area was created at the Liechtenstein Estate throughout the
centuries beginning in the 17th Century and continuing until the 20th
Century. The axis of the whole complex is created by the Baroque
Valtice Castle and Neo-Gothic Lednice Castle. The surrounding
countryside has been gradually landscaped by architects hired by the
Liechtenstein family to become a sophisticated cultural landscape which
includes numerous ponds, forests and beautiful parks with rare species of
trees. The area is dotted with several smaller buildings with poetic names
such as Apollo´s Temple, Border Castle or Temple of The Three graces
which were built for the pleasure of the owners. Covering an enormous
area of 200 km2 the Lednice-Valtice Complex is one of the largest
landscaped areas in Europe.
The Renaissance chateau in Litomysl
The east Bohemian town of Litomysl (1999) is known to Czech music
lovers as the birthplace of the Czech composer Bedrich Smetana and the
venue of the Smetana´s Litomysl Festival. The Litomysl Chateau is a
UNESCO-listed building and it is particularly charming when it comes
alive with the festival music. The beautiful Renaissance chateau with later
Baroque features was inspired by Italian arcade architecture which was
adjusted to suit the Czech environment. The chateau is easy to date
because of the revealing façade decorated by several thousand sgraffiti
motives which are never repeated. Experts agree that the chateau with its
complex of utility and farm buildings represents an outstanding example
of a central European noble seat during the period of Renaissance.
Holasovice boasts a collection of houses built in the Folk Baroque style
Staying in South Bohemia the village of Holasovice (1998) is also well
worth a visit. Holasovice is located close to Ceske Budejovice and the
village was founded in the first half of the 13th Century. It is remarkable
that despite various changes throughout the centuries the village retained
the medieval layout of residential and farm buildings which are joined by
walls with gates and arches. The current look of the village is the work of
master bricklayers in the second half of the 19th Century who rebuilt the
gables and entrance gates of the houses in Holasovice in the style of Folk
Baroque. The village square is formed by 22 houses with beautifully
decorated Baroque gables and front gardens. The village is a unique
example of this architectural style.
The Cesky Krumlov Castle Complex is the second
largest in the Czech Republic
Cesky Krumlov (1992) is often described as the pearl of South
Bohemia. The dominant landmark of the historic town centre which
contains more than 300 Gothic and Renaissance town houses is the vast
castle complex. Generations of owners gradually kept rebuilding it in line
with the changing period architectural styles. Among the highlights of the
castle are the Rococo masquerade hall and the unique Baroque theatre.
The castle garden, which ranks among the largest castle gardens in
Europe, invites visitors to take a pleasant walk. The garden features a
beautiful Rococo fountain and comes to life during the summer months in
particular when there are theatre and music performances held at the
revolving auditorium.
The beautiful and mysterious Highlands
The UNESCO sites in the Highlands form a triangle with the corners
marked by the towns of Telc, Trebic and Zdar nad Sazavou.
Telc is featured on the list because of its unique collection of town houses
in its historic centre and the chateau (1992). The face of Telc as we know it
today was largely shaped by a wealthy nobleman Zacharias from Hradec in
the 16th Century. He admired the Italian Renaissance so much that he
invited several Italian architects to turn his Gothic seat into a
representative chateau. The Renaissance makeover did not exclude the
town houses surrounding the square. According to a unified plan the
houses were extended to include an arcade and a decorative gamble at the
front. Only a few houses kept their pure Renaissance form until the
present. Most of them underwent later Baroque changes.
The UNESCO sites of Trebic including St. Prokop´s Basilica, the Jewish
cemetery and the Jewish quarter of Zamosti (2003), are living proof of the
long-term co-existence of Jewish and Christian cultures. Start the tour of
Trebic in front of the Romanesque-Baroque St. Prokop´s Basilica. The
stunning Romanesque portal with its round rosette is one of the most
valuable parts of this building dating back to the first half of the 13th
Century. The Jewish quarter is not far away from the basilica. Zamosti did
not undergo a vast amount of demolitions or rebuilding so there are more
than 100 buildings preserved today. Among these buildings are two
synagogues, a rabbi´s house, a Jewish school and one of the largest Jewish
cemeteries in the Czech Republic. Although the original inhabitants of
these houses no longer live there, the mysterious atmosphere of the
narrow streets, charming corners and archways persists today.
A truly unique site on the UNESCO list is the pilgrimage church of St
John of Nepomuk at Zelena Hora near Zdar nad Sazavou (1994).
It was built at the beginning of the 18th Century in the Baroque-Gothic
style by renowned architect Jan Blazej Santini to pay homage to the Czech
martyr. Santini opted for the symbolic shape of the five-pointed star which
is reflected in the layout of the church and in the interior where there are
five chapels and five altars. The pilgrimage church was formerly part of a
Cistercian monastery and now it belongs to the Zdar Castle.
The Baroque sights of central Moravia
The archiepiscopal town of Olomouc (2000) is situated in the heart of
central Moravia. It is the second largest protected historic town centre
area in the Czech Republic and its centrepiece – the Holy Trinity Column
– is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. The column was built to
commemorate the victims of the great plague. It is unique because of its
original artistic concept, rich sculptural decoration and also its size. With
its height of 35 metres it is one of the largest groups of Baroque sculptures
concentrated in one monument in Central Europe.
Nearby Kromeriz (1998) is a place where the bishops and archbishops of
Olomouc had their summer residence. The most significant change to the
building came in the second half of the 17th Century when it was rebuilt in
the early Baroque style. The elaborate Baroque palace was equipped with
expensive furniture and also contained a collection of precious paintings
from the 15th – 18th Centuries by famous artists such as Titian and Lucas
Cranach Sr. The archiepiscopal chateau is surrounded by the Lower
Chateau Garden which was turned into a romantic English park in the
19th Century. The Flower Garden originally founded outside the town
walls is also included on the UNESCO list. Visitors can admire its
geometrically planted flower beds, the maze and a colonnade with statues
of Greek gods and mythical figures.
The first Czech modern architecture representative on the UNESCO list is
the functionalist Tugendhat Villa located in the south Moravian city of
Brno (2001). This outstanding example of the work of renowned German
architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe impresses by its courageous
architectural design and its advanced technical background. On the main
residential floor of the villa the interior naturally blends with the exterior:
two windows stretch from the floor to the ceiling and thanks to an
electrically powered mechanism it is possible to open them fully into the
garden. This symbol of Brno´s modern architecture is considered to be
one of the milestones of world architecture of the 20th Century. An
extensive refurbishment was carried out at the Tugendhat Villa from 2010
to 2012 and it was restored to its original state from when it was
completed in 1930. The interiors are furnished with precise replicas of the
original fittings and furniture.
For more information:
Michaela Klofcová
Head of the Division of Media Relations
ČCCR — CzechTourism
[email protected]
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