Constantin Kinsky: We Are Romantic Idiots!
Constantin Kinsky was born in 1961 in Paris, France, to one of the oldest aristocratic families of Bohemia in French exile. Educated in France, he became a successful investment banker and strategic consultant and advised the Czech governments of Josef Tošovský and Miloš Zeman thus helping to save the Czech banking system during the crisis of the late 1990´s.
"The first thing you should know is that the Czech Republic is not only Prague. There are many, many things to see and if you come to Žďár, from here you will have 6 UNESCO Heritage sites within one hour, one-hour fifteen-minute drive max.“
Meet Constantin Kinsky and hear his mantra: get out of the capital and come and see the country! We are walking through the cozy museum cafe and as soon as we sit down he does not wait a second to promote the estate he is evidently so proud of.
The Kinsky family lost control of its property not once but twice during the 20th century, first during World War II.
"When the Germans took over the whole estate and we were forbidden to be here because my grandfather was known as an anti-Nazi militant citizen. And of course, we lost control again under the communists. So we are now trying to come back to the long term tradition, long term vision: how do you manage an estate like that?“
Coming back in the 1990´s after decades of communist neglect and mismanagement was bittersweet.
Undoubtedly the greatest magnet of Žďár nad Sázavou is the iconic Pilgrimage Church of Saint John of Nepomuk on the hill overlooking the former monastery. As a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1994, it draws not only the eye but large numbers of visitors. Nowadays, it is officially not part of the Kinsky´s estate. The Catholic Church administers the picturesque church as well as the Basilica of Our Lady of the Assumption situated within the Kinsky´s complex. To Constantin this is just a technicality.
As you may have noticed, Constantin Kinsky often talks about „vision“ both past and present. He explains his credo and long-term objectives in greater detail.
As we later stroll around one of the restored courtyards I ask the questions that have been nagging me for some time: Why does a successful investment banker, advisor to governments, need to involve himself and his wife so deeply in such a project? After all, Žďár is just a provincial backwater. Why not sell the estate and enjoy the proceeds?
Constantin Kinsky manages the family estate with his wife Marie, herself a descendant of an old noble family. In 2016 they together received the Glass Medal – highest honor of the Vysočina Region of the Czech Republic.
"(Laughing) No, we can´t do that. We are crazy romantic idiots, that is true. And sometimes we ask ourselves: why do this? There is so much to do, so much work. But, you know, it is meaningful. One can do a job, make money, have a comfortable life, but then what? Coffins have no pockets. It is better to leave something behind you. So that´s what we try to do and the feedback we get from the people we work with is so great that it gives us energy. Helping this place to live on and carry meaning for future generations, whether it is by managing nature in a sustainable way or by restoring buildings so that they carry living culture, it is fulfilling."