All kinds of historical monuments under threat in Czech Republic, says conservationist

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Many historical monuments in the Czech are under threat and action needs to be taken to save them. So says the state-funded National Monuments Institute, which has just launched a campaign to draw attention to the subject. But what kind of sites are actually in danger? That’s a question I put to the Institute’s Věra Kučová.

“All kinds of monuments are threatened, not only churches, castles and palaces. We can assume no-one now can destroy a church or castle, but especially tiny structures like vernacular buildings in villages, normal living dwellings in suburbs and towns, industrial heritage, small technical facilities – all these kinds of heritage are under threat.”

What are the main causes of the problems faced by monuments around the country?

“It is public opinion…it is not only a lack of money, but the low level of public awareness of values. Because not only individual buildings that are protected as cultural monuments are important – all the living environment and architectural heritage around us, everything which is full of memory of past generations, can be valued by someone.”

Why do you think it is the public have such a low awareness of the value of the country’s monuments?

“Probably our Institute has played some small part in this situation, because we were too closed, we haven’t communicated enough. We feel that the situation in foreign countries is better. For example, English Heritage is our model, let’s say.”

Why have you launched this media campaign now? People might say, why doesn’t the state pay for the upkeep and maintenance of monuments? Why are you addressing the public?

“We feel like the public must help. There are so many areas in our society where there is a lack of money, so it wouldn’t be fair to only speak about the lack of money for roads…so we feel like we must communicate with the general public.”