Native village of Jan Hus plans to build new visitor centre

Socha Jana Husa, foto: Štěpánka Budková

The village of Husinec, in south Bohemia, wants to open a new centre commemorating its most famous son, the 15th century religious reformer Jan Hus. While the municipality hopes the new visitor and research centre will open in time for the 600th anniversary of his death in five years’ time, critics say the project is over the top.

One of Czech national heroes, Jan Hus was born around the year 1372 in the small village of Husinec, in southern Bohemia, some 140 km south of Prague. A Catholic priest and later the rector of Prague’s Charles University, Hus became a key predecessor of the religious reformation movement that took off some hundred years after he was burned at the stake by the church in 1415. The village of Husinec now wants to turn an aging memorial to Hus in what is believed to be his native house into a modern visitor and research centre. Marie Kubáňková is the manager of the project.

Husinec, photo: Štěpánka Budková
“The year 2015 will maker the 600th anniversary of Jan Hus’ death. The project consists mainly in reconstructing the house that is believed to be his birthplace, and also in explaining and presenting the significance, the history and the life and works of Jan Hus.”

Some 3,000 visitors come annually to see the current memorial which was inaugurated in the 1960s. Besides modernization of the premises, the new centre should also offer study materials about Jan Hus and his time.

“There is no centre dedicated to Jan Hus in the Czech Republic or elsewhere which would have all the documents and literature about Jan Hus. One of our aims is to provide these kinds of resources, buying them from private individuals or making copies of the existing documents.”

On Friday, the village organized a public presentation of the plan. Among

Cardinal Miloslav Vlk, photo: CTK
the guests was also the head of the Czech Catholic Church, Cardinal Miloslav Vlk. In the 1990s, Cardinal Vlk set up a commission to study the work of Jan Hus; he says the new centre could also present its findings.

“I think that the results of committee, which was ecumenical, could be presented as part of the new centre and could be further developed there.”

However, some critics – including the former Social Democrat minister of culture and an MP for southern Bohemia Vítězslav Jandák – say it will be too expensive. They say that the estimated costs of the new centre, some 150 million crowns, or more than eight million US dollars, are way too

Jan Hus’ native house, photo: Štěpánka Budková
high. But project manager Marie Kubáňková explains that the whole premises around Jan Hus’ alleged native house would change substantially.

“It’s the complex of Jan Hus’ house, and the building next to it, and the new research centre as well. We need to somehow connect these buildings that stand nearby. Therefore, part of the Jan Hus centre will be underground.”

If the projects receives funding from the European Union, the village of Husinec hopes the new centre could be launched in 2015, 600 years after Jan Hus died at the stake.