The EU funds have revived the heart of Litomyšl and helped to build a complex worthy of the 21st century
29. 11. 2021
The 400 million investment in the renovation of the area around the castle in Litomyšl, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has made this place a beating heart of the East Bohemian art metropolis. More than 326 million CZK from the European Union funds, together with the state's contribution, have created a cultural, conference and university complex worthy of the 21st century.
The Renaissance chateau in Litomyšl, which has rightly become a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is surrounded by a similarly valuable set of Baroque buildings from the 17th and 18th century. This also includes the local brewery, which is the birthplace one of the greatest Czech composers, Bedřich Smetana.
The local Music Festival, Smetana's Litomyšl, together with the Prague Spring, is the most important event of its kind in the Czech Republic. Litomyšl itself is not only an important centre of tourism, but also a centre of culture and education for the wider area. This is also because this town is a seat of the Faculty of Restoration of the nearby University of Pardubice.
For all the reasons above, between the years 2007-2013 an investment of almost ten hundred million crowns from European Union funds was directed towards the revitalization of the castle hill of this charming town. For the city of almost ten thousand residents, which today has a total annual budget of around 300 million crowns, it was a major development step that it could not afford without the EU contribution.
"At the time when I was a mayor and this project was underway, the city had only 25 million crowns to invest in," says the then first man of the town hall, Michal Kortyš. "The million-worth expenses alone to develop the project were a risk. But I thought it was worth it, "says Kortyš.
In the primary considerations, the revitalization of the set of buildings, the park and the roads around the chateau was to take place, as well as the reconstruction of the chateau itself, a UNESCO Heritage Site. However, difficult negotiations with the state on the transfer of the castle to the city eventually prevented the merging of the two revitalizations into one project. Thanks to the EU funds, the buildings around the chateau have been reconstructed for years and serve as a background for the festival, its visitors and to the everyday city life.
Reconstruction of the castle itself has not even begun. And in some places of this extraordinary Renaissance monument one can see the chateau could really use a repair.
We managed to combine the most modern technology and architecture with Baroque space. "According to experts, there is very high-quality acoustics and the technical solution allows you to move the stage, reduce and enlarge the space and raise the auditorium," shows Kortyš.
On the contrary, thanks to the high standard of the craftsmanship, the buildings of the revitalized chateau hill seem not to have aged and one would hardly guessed that they have now served their purpose for almost a decade. The culminating architectural achievement was the transformation of the former chateau riding hall into a concert, theatre and conference hall for 400 people.
The project is alive and well used
Accommodation facilities for important guests as well as a hostel for students and young visitors were created in the large area. After the covid closure, the well-equipped complex comes quickly back to life. "We are completely booked for the whole autumn," says one of the employees.
Other revitalized buildings are also a great benefit for tourism and city life. Take form example the carriage house, where there is now a café, or the Children's Pavilion with a well-attended exhibition on the history of the city focused primarily on children and schoolchildren.
A true architectural gem is the formerly neglected Baroque Church of the Finding of St. Crosses, where elements of the most modern architecture have been sensitively incorporated. In addition to the spiritual dimension, the church also hosts exhibitions and concerts with the permanent multimedia exhibition Angels on the Hill, which was also part of the revitalization project.
A place in the life of the city
Finally, an important result of the project for the purposes of the mentioned restoration faculty of the University of Pardubice is the reconstructed former Piarist dormitory with a sensitively completed library.
Today, the town of Litomyšl makes extensive use of all the buildings from the revitalization project, which has also modified the surrounding roads and a park. "The chateau hill plays an important role in the life of the city not only as a venue for events, but also in terms of accommodation and care for monuments," says the current deputy mayor Radomil Kašpar.
The city of Litomyšl is currently subsidizing the running of the complex, this year in the amount of 4.2 million crowns. According to Kašpar, the town hall believes that in the coming years the management of the complex will make a profit.