Nearly a thousand cultural and historical sites as well as technical monuments across the Czech Republic will open to the public for free during the European Heritage Days starting this weekend. Over the course of nine days, people will get the chance to see hundreds of sites many of which are not normally accessible to the public.
The Czech Republic joined the European Heritage Days, held at the initiative of the Council of Europe, as the first post-communist country back in 1991. Over the years, the event has gained immense popularity and attracts around half a million visitors each year. Close to 150 municipalities joined the event this year, and some 250 events, including lectures, exhibitions and guided tours, are scheduled to take place.
Since 2005, Days of European Heritage are organised by the Association of Historical Settlements in Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia. The associations’ head, Květa Vitvarová, outlines the importance of this event:
“The main aim of European Heritage Days is to draw attention to the country’s many cultural and historical monuments, a precious legacy from our predecessors that needs to be protected for future generations. It is also important to stress that thanks to tourism, these monuments bring substantial sums to the country’s economy.”
The 19th edition of European Heritage Days will be held under the slogan ‘Heritage and Community’, which according to Mrs Vitvarová emphasizes the important role that communities play in managing their own cultural heritage and keeping it alive. The Czech Republic’s Heritage Days will be officially launched on Saturday in the picturesque town Slavonice in South Bohemia:
“Slavonice was selected not only for being a picturesque town, but also because it has really fulfilled this year’s slogan: ‘Heritage and Community’. Civic associations and public groups from the town and the region have taken an active part in preparing the programme and they will launch it unofficially already on Friday.”
As part of the official opening, the organisers of the European Heritage Days will also announce the Bearer of Tradition of Folk Crafts:
“The title has been awarded since 2001 by the Minister of Culture. To receive the title, the craftsmen must fulfil two conditions: to master their trade and to pass their skills onto the next generation. The winners of this year’s title are Jiří Rücker, a carver of wooden gingerbread moulds, and Josef Fielder, who specializes in hand-weaving techniques.”
The Czech Republic’s European Heritage Days will run until September 11.
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