The Wooden Hamlet in Roznov pod Radhostem

Hello and welcome to Spotlight - this time from the Wooden Hamlet of the Wallachian Open-Air Museum in the resort town - Roznov pod Radhostem in North Moravia. The Wooden Hamlet is a museum of traditional wooden architecture, showcasing Wallachian houses, farms and workplaces of the 18th to 20th centuries that have been brought here piece by piece from around the Beskydy mountain region. It also houses two Wallachian-style pubs that serve traditional Wallachian food and drinks. I am currently in one of them, the "Pub on the last Penny", having my last drink before setting off on a tour of the most interesting parts of the Wooden Hamlet...

"Hello. My name is Alena Divinova and I work in our Wallachian Open-Air Museum. I have been working here for nineteen years and I am a tour guide. We are now standing in front of the mayor's house. It's a copy. The original building still stands, not in Roznov but in the village of Velke Karlovice in Wallachia. But the inner equipment is original. So now we can see how the mayor lived in this region. He was a rich man who represented a Land Lord. He divided work among villagers and supervised them. He also organised some entertainment for them and could judge if necessary. His post was hereditary in the family."

"We have now entered the main room of the mayor's house. The whole family used to live here all year round because this was the only place which was heated. It was heated from the kitchen."

Furnished, as it would have been in the second half of the nineteenth century?

"Yes, the mayor's family used to meet around the table and all together ate from one big dish with wooden spoons. They would cook very simple food such as potatoes, sauerkraut, potatoes with milk, soup, buckwheat porridge. Meat was cooked very occasionally, just for festivities such as Christmas and Easter."

"There is a torchlight on the chest. It is a simple wooden piece, which took around ten minutes to burn down and it was necessary to change it all the time. It's a very simple light and the cheapest for us because candles and lamps were too expensive."

But it's hanging there loosely so is there not a danger of the wooden house burning down?

"Children took care of it all the time and there is a wooden vessel next to the chest just for water so the end falls into the water and is not dangerous."

Now how many children did the average family have?

"From research, we know that the families were very large, ten and sometimes even up to fourteen children were born. Some of them died at a young age. Children slept on benches. Not only on the oven but also on the benches which have special backs that tip forward. It's a practical and clever way in order to keep children from falling down."

Do you sometimes get visitors who know all these things that used to be used? Do they get nostalgic?

"Yes. Some of the older people still remember their childhood and they know these things."

"Now we are in our church called St. Anne's Church. It is a copy of an old church that burned down more than one hundred years ago. The copy was built sixty years ago. The original one dates from 1636. Some things from the interior were saved and moved to this church. Close to the church is the Wallachian cemetery, rather the Wallachian pantheon which has personalities of this area who devoted their life to Wallachia. They celebrated this region and were allowed to be buried right here. Writers, painters, musicians, historians, the founders of this museum, and even some sportsmen."

Such as Emil Zatopek?

"Yes. The most important and well known personality. The winner of four gold Olympic medals in Helsinki and London fifty years ago."

Can you tell me what this interesting monument is? It has the shape of a mushroom but is much bigger than that. It is a tree trunk that has little windows in it of different colours.

"Some of them even have faces or masks that have been carved in wood. They are bee hives. They were taken to the museum from the region around the town of Novy Jicin. Bees lived there more than one hundred years ago. Some of them date from the 1850's and bees recognise the faces. They fly in through the mouths. A door is on the other side, from which you can take the honey."

"Now, we are in the Roznov town house, which was used by the townsmen, the middle class families. Many families here were occupied as craftsmen and here in this exhibition, we are displaying the house of a tailor. The house, though, was only used by the family on the ground floor. The main floor upstairs was used by summer guests who came to Roznov for their spa, to be cured because Roznov was the climatic spa. It was officially started in 1820. Tuberculosis, lung diseases and breathing problems were treated here thanks to climatic conditions that were comparable to those in spas in Switzerland and Italy. Even Mr Gregor Mendel, the founder of genetic science was treated here in 1883 and Mr Sigmund Freud, chose Roznov for his spa too. So, Roznov was said to be the most healthy place in the Austro-Hungarian Empire at that time."