European Heritage Days - open doors to hidden monuments

Photo: CTK

Emperor Charles IV's coronation procession was one of the events marking the launch of the European Heritage Days in Prague last weekend. It is the first time that a post-communist country has been chosen to kick off the Europe-wide event.

Photo: CTK
Petr Sedlacek of the Association of Historical Settlements:

"The Association of Historical Settlements in Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia is a traditional organiser of the European Heritage Days in the Czech Republic. We were surprised when we were asked to organise this year's European launch. We approached the city of Prague and the Culture Ministry and decided to tie it with a national launch in the town of Chrudim."

Guilherme d'Oliveira Martins is General Coordinator of the European Heritage Days.

"I have the great pleasure as to be here in the heart of Europe, in Prague, this magnificent city, and present the European Heritage Days of this year. Since the beginning of September until October we will have all over Europe in this pan-European initiative of the Council of Europe 40,000 initiatives. Monuments, museums, houses, villages will be open to the public to the people because memory and heritage are factors of understanding and peace."

In the Czech Republic the European Heritage Days start in earnest this weekend and last until the following Sunday. In each country the days have a different theme. In the Czech Republic this year it is "New Life in Historical Surroundings". That theme involves not only historical buildings and monuments but also old crafts, for example, as Deputy Culture Minister Zdenek Novak points out.

"We understand as heritage not only monuments, museums, collections and so on but we also mean the so-called intangible heritage which is for instance folk songs, folk dances, and also the old ways of producing things which we in fact don't need in our modern life but we like them in our free time. We like them as souvenirs not only from our journeys but souvenirs of our grandfathers, grandmothers and so on."

The historical Klementinum library in Prague, the French Embassy in Prague, where the then French President, Francois Mitterrand's historic meeting with Czech dissidents took place in 1988, the government's lounge at Prague's Main Railway Station, an old hydro-electric power plant in the town of Pisek and a monastery in Cesky Krumlov, are among the historic buildings opening their doors to the public - places that usually remain closed. Some of the curious and hidden places belong to the Ministry of Culture. Deputy Minister Zdenek Novak.

Hluboka chateau
"The Ministry of Culture is responsible for just a very small piece of all the listed buildings and monuments. The national monuments institution for heritage will open all state castles and chateaux as it usually does but on this occasion they open these beautiful castles and chateaux such as Karlstejn, Hluboka, Lednice, Mnichovo Hradiste, Cesky Krumlov, Pernstejn and others for seniors and for young people, especially children. If they are organised in some groups, like schools or clubs of seniors, they will have free entry."

The fifteen-year tradition of the European Heritage Days aims to increase public awareness of the importance of heritage, to bring people closer to their cultural heritage by throwing open the doors to historic monuments and buildings. Guilherme d'Oliveira Martins.

"I must remember here Comenius and Jan Patocka, two important Czech and European thinkers we must remember in connection with this them. We have to understand the spirit of places and transform this understanding into a way of enriching ourselves through a dialogue between what we receive from our ancestors with the recreation of our own society and our own generation."

The complete list of historical and industrial monuments open to the public in the Czech Republic in the coming week as part of the European Heritage Days can be found at