Unesco monuments

The Czech lands have a rich and eventful history. People who came here from all corners of the world to cultivate our country did not only order castles to be built and decorated, churches erected and monasteries founded, but they also influenced the overall architectural design of our cities. No fewer than eleven of these sites have already been entered in the UNESCO list of world cultural heritage, while yet others have submitted their candidacy.
Further information on UNESCO sites:
www.unesco.org/whc/nwhc/pages/sites/main.htm
www.unesco-ic.cz
unesco.czecot.com





Religious monuments and places
of pilgrimage are a great part of architectural heritage of the Czech Republic. Although most of the churches, monasteries, chapels and pilgrimage places are Roman-Catholic, there also are many Jewish and Christian Orthodox sights. Religious architecture has gone through more than a thousand years' development.

Religious sites and places of pilgrimage are a great part of architectural heritage of the Czech Republic. Although most of the churches, monasteries, chapels and pilgrimage places are Roman-Catholic, there also are many Jewish and Christian Orthodox sights. Religious architecture has gone through more than thousand years' development. Christianisation came to Bohemia in the 9th century with coming of Cyril and Methodius to the Great Moravia, and afterwards the adoption of Christianity by Prince Bořivoj and his wife Ludmila. At that time the sovereigns had the first churches built. Gradually the first orders came to Moravia and Bohemia, where they originated the first monasteries as the cultural and educational centres.




The cult of worshiping the saints in the Catholic Church was interrupted by Hussitism (also known as the Hussite movement) and its revival. The comeback of the cult followed after more than two hundred years in the connection with reauthorisation of the Catholic Church in the 18th century. At that time our country turned strictly Catholic. The Marian cult grew rapidly together with constructions of big public cathedrals, a variety of thanksgiving columns and pilgrimage places (more than 300 have been preserved) on the whole territory of Bohemia and Moravia. The most worshipped saint was Jan Nepomucký (St.John of Nepomuk), whose sculpture graced nearly every bridge or village square.

Due to numerous wars and fires, which had been destroying the Czech Lands for centuries, but above all due to the reign of Joseph II in the late 18th century, many of the religious monuments did not survive. Joseph II prohibited pilgrimages, abolished churches and monasteries.

Another blow was dealt the monuments by forty years of communist era. As a result of the ignorance of the regime, many of the sights decayed and some of them completely dilapidated into ruins. Today, many sights are restored to their original splendor; also revived is the tradition of Marian pilgrimages. The most significant and historically most famous religious monuments have been included on the UNESCO list of the cultural and natural heritage (Kutná Hora, the historic centre of Prague, the gardens of Kroměříž, Zelená Hora). For more, visit the Regions section.


Jewish Sights

The first Jews settled in Bohemia and Moravia in the 9th century and kept their tradition at many places of the country. More than one thousand years of their presence left remarkable traces both in culture and architecture. Some of the ghettoes, synagogues, cemeteries, books and art objects have preserved, many sights disappeared without any trace.
Fanatics destroyed many Jewish sights during the crusades already in the 11th and the 12th centuries. They were razed after the pogroms or after expelling the Jews from the country. Since the mid-19th century the segregation of the Jews was abolished, and the original Jewish quarters were demolished or rebuilt and modernized.
A unique Jewish quarter from the medieval period has preserved in Třebíč, where there are two synagogues and a cemetery. In the 20th century the Nazis destroyed most Jewish sights and afterwards the ignorance of the Communists was the last blow.



The first synagogues on our territory were probably simple wooden buildings. One of them is a rebuilt version, preserved in Vlachovo Březí. Since the Middle Ages, buildings of stone replaced wooden ones. The oldest is the Old-New Synagogue in Prague from the mid-13th century. There follow Gothic and Renaissance buildings (the Pinkas s., the High s., the synagogue in Dolní Kounice near Brno and in Holešov). A Baroque synagogue has preserved in Boskovice. In the Czech Republic we can discover the Classicist and Empire sights, the most common are the ones in the style of historicism, such as the Maisel Synagogue in Prague. We can find the representatives of Art Nouveau style or Moorish style, as well as of functionalism. In Milevsko there is a synagogue built in the Cubist style. The most recent synagogue was built in 1937-8 and is situated in Kamenice nad Lipou.


Nowadays there are over 200 preserved synagogues. Two in Prague and one in Brno offer divine services to their respective communities again.
In 1906, the Jewish Museum in Prague first opened; today, it is among the best of its kind in Europe.
Terezín, near Litoměřice, is the site of a former concentration camp. The Ghetto Museum and Holocaust Memorial are well worth visiting.