Historic South Bohemian restaurant with Gothic features becomes Czech monument of the year

The Solnice building, photo: ČTK / Václav Pancer

A late-Gothic granary in České Budějovice, newly converted into a restaurant, has received the annual Monument of the Year award from the Association of Historic Settlements of Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia. Meanwhile, the Moravian-Silesian town of Štramberk was voted Historic Town of the Year.

The Solnice building  (left) and České Budějovice,  photo: Wikimedia Commons,  CC0

Located in the capital of Southern Bohemia, the Solnice building was first built in 1531 as a storehouse for the city’s grain supply. Throughout the centuries the space continued to be used for storage, shifting from grain to munitions and later salt.

The building’s role as a warehouse meant that it was subject to few if any aesthetic reconstructions. It was only in recent years that a full reconstruction was commissioned, culminating in the building‘s reopening as the Solnice restaurant in March of last year.

Divided into four floors, Solnice now also offers a closed salon for private events and an exhibition space featuring what is apparently the oldest timber roof truss in the country. As is increasingly the case in the country, the restaurant also offers its own beer, pumped from the nearby brewery via a system of underground pipes.

Libor Honzárek,  photo: Top 09

In fact, the reconstruction has been such a success that it was awarded the Monument of the Year award for 2019 by the Association of Historic Settlements of Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia this Friday, specifically, in the category for reconstructions above the price of CZK 2 million.

The chairman of the association, Libor Honzárek, explains why.

“The main reason why [Solnice] won this year was that the conversion was of high quality, but also maintained the historic context of the building. The soul of the building was kept. This despite the fact that it was completely repurposed to serve as a restaurant and small brewery.

“Maximum attention was paid to conserve the historic beams, plastering, façade and even the original tiles were kept where possible, alternatively being replaced by authentic looking modern replicas.”

It is not the first award that the Solnice building received. Václav Študlar, the man largely responsible for the reconstruction project, already picked up awards from the municipal authorities and from the Association of Building Entrepreneurs, again for exceptional attention to the structure’s historic materials.

Skalka Baroque architectural area,  photo: Draceane,  Wikimedia Commons,  CC BY-SA 3.0

The award for best monument in the category below the CZK 2 million threshold was the Central Bohemian town of Mníšek pod Brdy for its reconstruction of 14 chapels marking the stations of the cross that Jesus undertook ahead of his crucifixion, as well as for the reconstruction of the road towards the Skalka Baroque architectural area.

Finally, the settlement chosen as the best historic town for 2019 by the association’s council and the Ministries of Culture and Regional Development is Štramberk. Located south of Ostrava in the Moravian-Silesian Region, Štramberk has repeatedly placed high in the competition, but caught the judges eye this year due to the town’s input in reconstructing its historic timber houses and log cabins, says Mr Honzárek.

Štramberk,  photo: David Paloch,  CC BY-SA 2.5

“The significant amount of inhabitants who are now moving back into these structures was also taken into account. The timber houses are still popular and the effort into reconstructing them has a positive influence on the demographics of the town.

“Furthermore, they have reconstructed other objects in recent years, such as the town’s local pride, the Jaroňkova Shelter, as well as the Church of Saint John of Nepomuk.“