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Respekt: Czechs reconstruct abandoned chateaus in borderland

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Prague, July 20 (CTK) – Some Czechs have bought ruins of chateaus in the former Sudetenland and are slowly reconstructing them to revive the region called Czech Canada near the border with Austria, weekly Respekt out yesterday writes.
It reports about a few enthusiasts who have decided to revitalise the abandoned heritage.
A company of nine men bought the dilapidated neo-Gothic 19th-century chateau in Cesky Rudolec, south Bohemia, along with adjacent buildings and plots for four million crowns in 2009.
After WWII and the transfer of German inhabitants from the country, mainly the Sudetenland, the chateau was given to a local agricultural cooperative that devastated the buildings and turned its chambers into flats for farmers. The roof collapsed in the 1970s and afterwards the building was falling into the stte of dilapidation, Respekt writes.
The new owners first opened an inn, including a pool, and a brewery near the chateau to earn some money that they are spending on the reconstruction of the chateau, starting with its 30-metre tower.
They originally planned to rebuild the chateau into a hotel, but they did not gain a European subsidy for the project. However, they succeeded with the project of an information centre in the chateau and an inn with a small brewery next to it.
However, Respekt adds, many locals in Rudolec, a village of 900 inhabitants, mistrust their activity. Some have expressed fears that the new owners will embezzle the money acquired for the project.
Despite it, one of the owners, Tomas Prochazka, is optimistic. He says people in the Sudetenland have always been mistrustful due to their bad historical experience. Yet, the situation is changing even in Rudolec. The Communists (KSCM) did not win the local election for the first time (last autumn) and the new leadership started repairing the village, Prochazka adds.
Respekt writes that the landscape along the Austrian border is quite intact and mysterious. There are not even signposts or tourist and cycling paths leading to a part of the Czech Canada nature reserve. Only some memorial plaques remind of the past – of the demolished churches and villages and their, mostly, German inhabitants, Respekt writes.
Under the communist regime, it became no man’s land, strictly protected by border guards. Their relatives still live in some villages, where the former Iron Curtain was drawn down, such as Stare Mesto pod Landstejnem. Some of them remember the past with nostalgia as the times of order and safety compared with the present uncertainty and rising crime, Respekt writes.
Near the village, there was a ruin of the Dobrohor chateau for which the locals did not care.
However, the site has been revitalised of late thanks to its new owner, a 30-year-old man from Prague, Jan Muzak. At present, a sign on the gate informs the passers-by about art exhibitions and other events held in the partially reconstructed chateau.
Muzak recalls that he has always liked the surrounding landscape and this is why he used the chance to buy the dilapidated chateau for 870,000 crowns.
Since then, his prosperous family firm has invested the profit in the chateau’s reconstruction as they do not want to rely on subsidies. The family had to take out a bank loan for the repairs of the roof as well, Muzak told the weekly.
He would like to open a small brewery there and organise sightseeing, exhibitions and other cultural events for locals and other visitors in the chateau.
As the chateau border’s on a “smelly” piggery, built in its former garden in the 1970s, the new owners had to give up the idea of running a hotel there.
However, Muzak does not blame the piggery’s owners for the situation and they are on friendly relations. They plan to plant trees between the chateau and the farm in the autumn to partially divert the smell. In the future, a biogas plant processing manure might be built at the farm to solve the problem, Muzak adds.
He says he knows that the local inhabitants are peculiar and feel uprooted, but they usually come to the events staged in chateau eventually.
Some of them still miss the past when a farm was in the chateau, but Muzak believes that people will change their mind with time and will be glad to have a restored chateau in their village, Respekt writes.
($1=24.843 crowns)

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