Ever since we’ve started this site, we have lots of emails coming into our mailboxes from sharing of recipes, to old photographs, to places yet undiscovered and artists we may never have heard of. This morning we received a call for help to save a Czech castle from ruin.
The castle is located in Veselí (Janovice nad Úhlavou). Veseli is a tiny village, which is part of the town of Janovice nad Úhlavou in the Klatovy district (population 2,500). As of 2011, there were only 29 registered addresses and a population of 58 who live there.
There is evidence of the village existing all the way back to the second half of the 14th century. and at that time there was a separate estate, and a fortress (what we’re calling “the castle” today).
It stood on high ground and was protected throughout the centuries by the southeast floodplain of Úhlava territory.
Historical records show that the north and west sides were protected by a moat.
Ancient remains of the perimeter walls, which are part of the castle date back to the 16th century were recently discovered.
The castle itself sits on an area of 30 x 13 m.
In 1863, it was owned by Veselí Frederick Stadion-Thannhausen, who began extensive work on the fortress to modify and rebuild it into the castle structure (remains) that are there today. They owned the estate until 1885 when owners changed.
The last owner before 1940 was of Jewish origin, and in 1941, his property was confiscated by the Germans as part of WWII. Like many properties of that kind, the Nazis used it for many reasons and caused much damage.
In 1948, after the war, it was discovered that no rightful heirs could be located and so it became the property of the Czechoslovak state.
It was used by local agricultural businesses who kept offices there and was later modified into a couple apartments.
Today, the castle is falling apart and in the hands of foreign owners who want to restore it’s beauty and open it to the public for all to enjoy. As a part of those efforts, an association has been formed to rescue the castle. They registered the property in the Federal Register, the Regional Court in Plzeň, Section L, File 7043 on July 22, 2014. (Much like a historical property registration here in the USA.) Stating that their purpose is to restore the castle in Veseli nad Úhlavou, making it available to the public and for use of the cultural, social and educational purposes.
Looking at the photos it’s a vast undertaking, but if you are like us and love the idea of restoring beauty to the forgotten – than you may just want to contribute to their non-profit project.
They are seeking $20,000 US dollars for the work and have a crowdfunding page set up here. And for a donation, you can become a member in the association.
Donating is easy –
For $12 you get a castle thank you postcard.
For $50 you get a Veselí Castle logo T-shirt.
… and by the way, Veselí is the name of the place and Veselí also means merriment, cheerfulness or festivity.
For $250 you will be able to spend a night in the restored tower.
And for $500 you can even play a role in their documentary.
They have plans to make a documentary during the reconstruction, and you will be part of that sharing how you discovered Veselí Castle and where you come from.
Heck, I’m even sure that if you went there to pass along your contribution in person you’d make the local news and would be able to get hands-on involved with the actual work.
Sounds like an awesome way to spend a couple of weeks in the Czech Republic!
The actual property owner is Andreas Oliver Bechinie from Berlin.
Several history buffs led by Marta Tomanová from nearby Miletic met him over a year ago. At that time, no one was discussing bringing the castle back to life – it was just a matter of cleanup so the ruin was not such an eyesore for the community. But as they spoke of possibilities, the conversation led to an opportunity to start doing something for the castle, which many other folks may have categorized as “unrecoverable.”
So they took action and made a plan…
On May 1, 2014 they held their inaugural meeting and in July they appeared at the Regional Court in Plzen to register the association. The official purpose of the association is to restore the castle, making it available to the public and use of the cultural, social and educational purposes. The tower, which was originally a library will also be restored to its original state.
So far, the funds are slow in coming. People say that that are not too trusting of the foreign ownership of the castle. But the association has secured a lease which allows them to use the castle for their own purposes (as described above) for 30 years for the amount of 1 CZK (Czech crown) per year. That is the equivalent of approx. .40 cents.
The owner also has to contribute a certain amount each year for maintenance and repairs during the duration of the lease. They also have public calls for help to assist with cleaning up the gardens, removing debris and so on. In other words, the community is coming together to take an eyesore and make it great again – and we love that!
It’s a vast undertaking but alas, a noble one, preserving history and restoring splendor one project at a time.
They have all of the paperwork in place and are actively seeking funding for the project, and again – you can donate here.
We wish them the best of luck!
If you should decide to go there, it’s an hour and forty-five minute drive from Prague as you can see on the map below.
There are some really nice hotels about 15-20 minutes out which are located in spa locations. You can check those out here.
So whether you want to donate or plan a visit to actually lend a hand (pun intended!), we think you’ll want to support bringing this beautiful piece of history back to it’s original beauty.
Thanks Marta, for letting us know about your project!