The Central Bohemian town of Beroun has just earned the title of Historic Town of the Year 2009. The prize, which comes with a million crown award for the city, honors towns and cities in the Czech Republic that have excelled in preserving and renewing their monuments and historic buildings. Sarah Borufka reports.
The Historic Town of the Year 2009 award ceremony took place in Prague on Tuesday. This year’s title went to the Central Bohemian town of Beroun. The prize, which honors the great work that has been done in renewing Beroun’s historic core and preserving its monuments, comes with a monetary award of one million Czech crowns. The Ministry of Culture has been awarding the prize Historic Town of the Year for over ten years. In 2009, fifty-two towns competed for the prestigious award.
Petr Sedláček, the head of the Association of Historic Settlements and a member of the award committee, explains why Beroun was chosen for first place this year.
“Beroun impressed us in terms of the preservation work that was done there, which was really quite demanding. The Ministry of Regional Development appreciated that renovations in Beroun were done in a way that really preserved the historic core of the town. And aside from that, I personally really valued the great restoration after the 2002 floods. I think the town has really demonstrated a great commitment to the revitalization of this former royal residence.”
Beroun’s historic buildings did not just suffer damages during the 2002 floods. Forty years of communist rule also left its mark on the town. Pollution grew during that time and many historic monuments were destroyed by the communists.
Beroun’s mayor Jiří Besser says the award money will go towards further preservation projects.
“We will use it again towards some projects in the historic part of our town. For this year, we have planned a number of events that could use some funding, so the city council will decide how the funds will be used in detail at its yearly budget meeting.”
The award is part of a Ministry of Culture program aimed at revitalizing historic monuments and historic city centers across the Czech Republic. Since its inception, it has funded the renovation of over 10,000 monuments. The head of the Association of Historic Settlements, Petr Sedláček, says that the program has brought life back to many Czech towns.
“This program really helps Czech towns to jumpstart long-term revitalization. In a number of cases, we are already reaping the benefits of such revitalization projects. Housing and employment are returning to those towns. They are not some sort of outdoor museum, but places where people can live.”
Last year, the program provided a total of four billion Czech crowns to preservation projects.
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