Cultural heritage is an important part of the Czech Republic’s intellectual and material resources. Czech cultural heritage is artistically and historically rich and diverse and highly authentic. It plays an important role in municipal and regional development and helps advance a positive image of the country abroad. The Czech Republic is also known for the many castles and chateaux it has all across the country. More than a hundred heritage properties are managed by the National Heritage Institute. In addition to material heritage in the form of such tangible cultural property as artefacts, buildings, and art, Czech cultural heritage also comprises traditional folk culture, which is defined as a form of intangible heritage. The many valuable monuments and artefacts in the Czech Republic are equally an important part of European and world heritage.
Czech heritage on the UNESCO list
The UNESCO List has nowadays inscribed 12 + 4 Czech heritage sites which are:
- Historical centre of Prague (1992)
- Historical centre of Český Krumlov (1992)
- Historical centre of Telč (1992)
- Pilgrimage Church of St John of Nepomuk (1994)
- Historical centre of Kutná Hora, the Church of St Barbara and the Cathedral of Our Lady in Sedlec (1995)
- Lednice-Valtice Area (1996)
- Kroměříž Castle and Gardens (1998)
- Holašovice Village Reservation (1998)
- Litomyšl Castle and Gardens (1999)
- Holy Trinity Column in Olomouc (2000)
- Tugendhat Villa (2001)
- The Jewish Quarter and the Basilica of St Procopius in Třebíč (2003)
The other four are masterpieces of oral and intangible heritage of humanity:
- Slovácko Verbuňk (2005)
- Village Shrovetide processions and masks in the Hlinec Region (2010)
- Falconry (2010)
- The Ride of Kings (2011)
(Years in brackets refer to the date the site was inscribed on the UNESCO list.)
Museums and galleries
Today the Czech Republic can boast an extensive and stable network of museums, galleries, archives, and libraries managing public and private collections of artefacts, a unique array of heritage buildings which in many cases still have their original, historical furnishings, and a still vibrant and preserved tradition of folk culture.
Some of the oldest heritage institutions in the country include the Silesian Museum in Opava, the Moravian Museum in Brno, and the National Museum in Prague, which is the third-oldest but the largest museum in the country. There are several other specialised heritage institutions in the Czech Republic, such as the National Technical Museum in Prague and the Technical Museum in Brno, the Wallachian Open-Air Museum in Rožnov pod Radhoštěm. Events of the Second World War are commemorated in the Lidice Memorial and the Terezín Memorial.
News and activities in the field of cultural heritage are the focal interest of the Association of Czech Museums and Galleries, the Czech Galleries Council and the Czech National Committee of ICOM, while PROPAMÁTKY is a web portal that follows developments relating to heritage funding. The National Heritage Institute is the umbrella organisation for research and professional activities in the field of heritage conservation nationwide. The Association of Castle Owners is an organisation for owners of historic residential estates and monuments.
In recent years there has been a surge in the number and quality of activities initiated by ordinary citizens or by voluntary civic initiatives aimed at promoting the conservation of the heritage stock and monuments of local significance. Czech ICOMOS is the umbrella organisation that oversees the protection of material cultural heritage, historical residences and their environments, and cultural landscapes in the Czech Republic.
Shows and festivals
The Czech Republic also boasts a unique array of folklore shows and festivals, most notably the Ride of the Kings, the International Folklore Festival, the Children’s Festival in Strážnice, the Festival of Shrovetide Traditions, the International Festival of Advent and Christmas Traditions, Carols, and Crafts. The National Institute of Folk Culture is the national professional body for traditional and folk culture.
There are several awards in the field of cultural heritage that help raise the prestige of heritage institutions and their function and present examples of best practices: Gloria Musaealis, a national competition for museums; the National Heritage Institute’s award Patrimonium Pro Futuro; the Monument Competition organised by the Association of Historical Settlements and the Best Slovácké Verbuňk Dancer competition. Annual events in the field of cultural heritage organised in the Czech Republic include European Heritage Days, Museum Night, Church Night, and Castle and Chateau Night.