The Czech Republic has only been present on the UNESCO List since 1992 when the historic centres of Prague, Český Krumlov and Telč were given World Heritage Sites status. All of the country’s 12 World Heritage Sites are cultural ones… but how many of them can you name?
Historic Centre of Prague (1992)
Built between the 11th and 18th centuries, the Old Town, the Lesser Town and the New Town speak of the great architectural and cultural influence enjoyed by this city since the Middle Ages. The many magnificent monuments, such as Hradcany Castle, St Vitus Cathedral, Charles Bridge and numerous churches and palaces, built mostly in the 14th century under the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles IV.
Historic Centre of Český Krumlov (1992)
Situated on the banks of the Vltava river, the town was built around a 13th-century castle with Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque elements. It is an outstanding example of a small central European medieval town whose architectural heritage has remained intact thanks to its peaceful evolution over more than five centuries.
Historic Centre of Telč (1992)
The houses in Telc, which stands on a hilltop, were originally built of wood. After a fire in the late 14th century, the town was rebuilt in stone, surrounded by walls and further strengthened by a network of artificial ponds. The town’s Gothic castle was reconstructed in High Gothic style in the late 15th century.
Pilgrimage Church of St John of Nepomuk at Zelená Hora (1994)
This pilgrimage church, built in honour of St John of Nepomuk, stands at Zelená Hora, not far from Ždár nad Sázavou in Moravia. Constructed at the beginning of the 18th century on a star-shaped plan, it is the most unusual work by the great architect Jan Blazej Santini, whose highly original style falls between neo-Gothic and Baroque.
Kutná Hora Historical Town Centre (1995)
The town of Kutná Hora developed as a result of the exploitation of the silver mines. In the 14th century it became a royal city endowed with monuments that symbolized its prosperity. The Church of St Barbara, a jewel of the late Gothic period, and the Cathedral of Our Lady at Sedlec, which was restored in line with the Baroque taste of the early 18th century, were to influence the architecture all across central Europe.
Lednice-Valtice Cultural Landscape (1996)
Between the 17th and 20th centuries, the ruling dukes of Liechtenstein transformed their domains in southern Moravia into a striking landscape. It married Baroque architecture and the classical and neo-Gothic style of the castles of Lednice and Valtice with countryside fashioned according to English romantic principles of landscape architecture. At 200 km2 , it is one of the largest artificial landscapes in Europe.
Holašovice Historic Village (1998)
Holašovice is an exceptionally complete and well-preserved example of a traditional central European village. It has a large number of outstanding 18th- and 19th-century vernacular buildings in a style known as ‘South Bohemian folk Baroque’, and preserves a ground plan dating from the Middle Ages.
Gardens and Castle at Kroměříž (1998)
Kroměříž stands on the site of an earlier ford across the River Morava, at the foot of the Chriby mountain range which dominates the central part of Moravia. The gardens and castle of Kroměříž are an exceptionally complete and well-preserved example of a European Baroque princely residence and its gardens.
Litomyšl Castle (1999)
Litomyšl Castle was originally a Renaissance arcade-castle of the type first developed in Italy and then adopted and greatly developed in central Europe in the 16th century. Its design and decoration are particularly fine, including the later High-Baroque features added in the 18th century. It preserves intact the range of ancillary buildings associated with an aristocratic residence of this type.
Holy Trinity Column in Olomouc (2000)
This memorial column, erected in the early years of the 18th century, is the most outstanding example of a type of monument specific to central Europe. In the characteristic regional style known as Olomouc Baroque and rising to a height of 35 m, it is decorated with many fine religious sculptures, the work of the distinguished Moravian artist Ondrej Zahner.
Tugendhat Villa in Brno (2001)
The Tugendhat Villa in Brno, designed by the architect Mies van der Rohe, is an outstanding example of the international style in the modern movement in architecture as it developed in Europe in the 1920s. Its particular value lies in the application of innovative spatial and aesthetic concepts that aim to satisfy new lifestyle needs by taking advantage of the opportunities afforded by modern industrial production.
The architect Mies van der Rohe gave his name to the Mies Award, the EU Prize for Contemporary Architecture. Polish and Slovak projects have been shortlisted for this year’s edition.
Jewish Quarter and St Procopius’ Basilica in Třebíč (2003)
The ensemble of the Jewish Quarter, the old Jewish cemetery and the Basilica of St Procopius in Třebíč are reminders of the co-existence of Jewish and Christian cultures from the Middle Ages to the 20th century. The Jewish Quarter bears outstanding testimony to the different aspects of the life of this community. St Procopius’ Basilica, built as part of the Benedictine monastery in the early 13th century, is a remarkable example of the influence of Western European architectural heritage in this region.
If you’ve already visited every single one in the Czech Republic, don’t forget to also check out UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Poland.