The Via Foundation’s Czech Heritage Society supports those people who work to preserve and protect landmarks of cultural and historical importance in the Czech Republic.
As you travel through the Bohemian and Moravian countryside, you see them dotting the landscape: an 18th Century monument commemorating the victims of the plague; an early 19th Century chapel set off the main road, obscured by overgrowth; a synagogue whose roof collapsed years ago; a statue in a town center, faded and weather-worn. Each landmark helps comprise the unique historical landscape of the Czech Republic, but due to neglect, indifference, or a lack of available funding, the very existence of this cultural heritage is in jeopardy.
With the support of members of the Czech Heritage Society, the Via Foundation actively works to give grassroots organizations the opportunity to succeed in preserving and safeguarding the legacy of Czech history. We consider it critical to preserve the rich diversity of cultural sites in the Czech Republic – not only for those who live here, but also for those who have Czech roots or those who appreciate the beauty and history of the Czech cultural heritage and Bohemian and Moravian history.
Even beyond the physical restoration of a building or monument, Via donors are assisting communities throughout the Czech Republic to restore civic pride. By providing the means for Czech citizens who want to help themselves, members of the Czech Heritage Society assist in revitalizing community life and the spirit of volunteerism in the Czech Republic. The Czech Heritage Society continues the hope of the 1989 Velvet Revolution by giving individuals the power to positively effect change in their communities.
Please consider joining the Czech Heritage Society to ensure the continuation of this success and assist in the preservation of Czech cultural heritage!
The village Val is situated near the town of Veselí nad Lužnicí. Local village people and Union of Scouts reconstruceted a toppled stone base of a cross that was erected already in 1764. Survivors remember that destruction of the cross was caused by a runaway horse who overthrew the monument.
The Saint’s Spring in Brankovice has been a favorite destination for local residents for as long as anyone can remember. The scene is idyllic: in a small clearing in the woods of eastern Moravia, an ancient linden tree casts shade upon a small chapel locals know as U svaté. Beneath the chapel flows a spring whose waters are said to heal all maladies. The chapel dates to 1704 according to records, but locals say that the spring’s miraculous properties have been known for far longer.
On a quiet path in the forest near the Polish border, a statue holds its mysteries silent. The origin of the statue of St. Mary Magdalen between the villages of Větrov and Frýdlant in northern Bohemia is unknown: who created this? what is the significance of where it is placed? The Frýdlant Monuments Board and a group of local volunteers work to unravel and preserve its history.
Over 700 years ago, German miners founded the town of Potštát on Eastern Moravia’s Jesenik lowlands. Tucked beneath the Oderské Mountains, Potštát grew into a market town drawing Czech, Slovak, and Wallachian immigrants. In 1781, Potštát’s residents consecrated a stone and mortar chapel to replace the original wooden church that had served their town for years. This chapel is still in use today.
In first half of the 19th century, the farmer, folk healer and founder of modern hydrotherapy, Vincenc Priessnitz, established a health spa not far from the town of Jeseník. There are dozens of small historical monuments scattered throughout the area, many of which were built in gratitude by the patients of the spa. The extensive number of these historical objects is an apt memorial to this famous native. Included among them are the Adéla, Flóra and Adolf springs, which were used for medical purposes as a part of the spa treatment.
Regard for the past is connected to what awaits us in the future. If we lose our past, the path to the future ceomes clear. The age in which we now live is like a depleted memory. Local shops have been replaced by huge supermarkets, roads traveled for centuries have been severed by highways. For this reason, we owe our gratitude to people who seek out to revive the collective memories of the places in which we live; those who have come to realize that if we lose ”trace” of our ancestors, a gap will develop that nothing will be able to fill.
The cross was erected in the 19th century in the memory of the victims of the plague. The cross formerly stood in the town center, but is now located in a small residential area on a frequented footpath. The Association repaired the cross and the area around it and installed a plaque with information about smaller monuments throughout the town of Bruntál.
The small chapel with its belfry, dating from the year 1937, is the only reminder of the town of Libčice, which in the 1970’s was submerged in the construction of the Želivka – Švihov water reservoir. The town’s inhabitants were evacuated and all the buildings were destroyed, with the exception of the small chapel.
The small chapel stands on the edge of the village right on the side of the road. It was most likely first erected in the 19th century by the owner of the neighboring land. While for many years, the descendents of the property and the villagers cared for the monument, it was abandoned in the early part of this decade for lack of resources.
Several smaller monument located in the district of Holany are considered important as endangered examples of the local folk-art craftsmanship and traditions. The project supported by the Via Heritage Fund focused on the restoration of seven small monuments from the 18th and 19th century – including a small chapel and cross.
For the chapel in the Western Bohemian town of Hněvnice, its very existence was dependent upon its timely renovation. Over twenty years ago, it had already been considered unrecoverable due to its dilapidated state and had been removed from the list of protected monuments. Nevertheless, in 2004, the Hněvnice town chapel was brought back to life. The rescue mission was undertaken by the Association for the Renewal of the Hněvnice Township, who received a grant of $ 3,170 from the Czech Heritage Society for the renovation of this small sacral monument.
In Lestkov, there are a series of small monuments that are gradually being reconstructed by the Helping Ourselves Association, working in cooperation with the local government and the Roman Catholic church. Among them is also a public fountain in the town, which was damaged by an American army jeep at the end of WWII, and finally removed in the 1950’s. In its place, there are plans to build a new public fountain. Another of the small monuments in Lestkov is the statue of St. Dominik, which was reconstructed with the help of $ 3,300 from the Via Heritage Fund in 2004.
The Baroque Plague Column was originally erected at the town Dvorce’s entrance during the time of the plague in order to warn travelers not to enter, helping Dvorce avoid contamination in the 18th century epidemic. After 1945 however, the column fell into disrepair. In 2002, the Vlastenecký pouník Civic Association succeeded in raising enough money for its restoration.