Castle hill returned to life

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Regular visitors to the festival have certainly watched with excitement the construction work that has been taking place on the Castle Hill, the venue of the International Opera Festival Smetana Litomyšl over the past four years. Even this year, many will notice that not everything is completely finished yet, yet the great project of revitalization of the Castle Hill is nearing its successful conclusion during June this year. Already the year before last, festival visitors were able to see Václav Boštík's exhibition in the new hall in the Chateau Riding Hall, where regular overtures to the evening festival programmes have also been held since last year. Since last year, visitors have also been able to use the new social halls in the Castle Brewery, the cafeteria in the former coach house and visit the beautiful Piarist Church of the Finding of the Holy Cross. In June this year, the extension to the Piarist College is also being completed and the Angels on the Hill and the Children's Programme exhibitions are gradually being brought to life. Even during the busy festival season, this year visitors will also be able to encounter groups of children exploring the Castle Hill and its history. Since last year, the newly revitalised premises have been the venue for the School at the Castle project. Over 1,200 enthusiastic children have already visited the experiential educational programmes of the School at the Chateau and the interest is constantly growing. As the project draws to a close, it is time to take stock and summarise what the project has brought.

The project Revitalisation of the castle hill was financed by the Integrated Operational Programme, whose purpose and aim is, among other things, the restoration of monuments, including their revitalisation and return to the life of society. Between 2011 and 2015, a total of over CZK 400 million was invested. Four renowned Czech architectural offices participated in the project - AP Atelier Josef Pleskot (the forecourt, the Castle Brewery), Atelier HŠH (the riding hall, upper courtyard, stables, carriage house and the castle park), Marek Štěpán (the Church of the Finding of the Holy Cross), Atelier Burian - Křivinka (Piarist College + extension). The project includes not only the reconstruction of eleven historical buildings, but also cultural and educational programmes such as the School at the Chateau, the Children's Programme and the Angels on the Hill exhibition. The main objective of the project is therefore to fully integrate the valuable site into the organism of the city and the region and to use it as a supra-regional centre of culture, education and social life.

Piarist College with an extension
The building of the former Piarist college was built in 1643 as part of the Piarist monastery building complex. The dormitory was completely reconstructed as part of the project and today it houses 4 studios of the Faculty of Restoration of the University of Pardubice.

The Church of the Finding of the Holy Cross
The Baroque Church of the Finding of the Holy Cross was built between 1714 and 1725. It burned down four times in its history and after 1968 it was closed and gradually fell into disrepair. Within the framework of the project, the church was literally brought back to life. The church has a new exhibition Angels on the Hill and a beautiful view of the city. Today, the church is not only a spiritual place of contemplation, but also an exhibition of religious art and a cultural hall at the same time.

The chateau brewery
The construction of the brewery was completed in 1630. It acquired its Baroque appearance around 1730. The building was gradually renovated in two stages in 2000-2006 and 2011-2013. Today, the building is once again in full use. It houses a training centre, offices, depositories, classrooms, as well as accommodation, social halls and the Bedřich Smetana Birthplace exhibition.

The riding hall
The former brewery building is connected to the riding hall from the first third of the 18th century. As part of the reconstruction, a multifunctional cultural hall with a capacity of up to 400 visitors was built into the former riding hall.

Carriage House and Children's Pavilion
The carriage house was originally a ground floor building and served as a space where carriages were placed. In 1977 it was renovated and raised by one floor. As part of the modern renovation, a new cafeteria was built on the ground floor and a Children's Pavilion with interactive elements was built in the area in front of the carriage house.

Stables The stable building, built around 1725, is the landmark of the so-called Upper Courtyard. A labyrinth has been built into a previously unused part of the building and is part of the extensive Children's Programme on the Castle Hill.

The Castle Gardens
The current form of the park surrounding the castle on three sides dates back to the end of the 18th century. At that time, the Wallenstein-Wartembergs transformed the south-western part of the castle facing the town into a French garden. The lower part of the garden in the northern part of the grounds was designed as an English park. The park was completely renovated as part of the project, removing the 1950s amphitheatre and adding several modern features.

The area around the central road, Jirásek Street, with a small park around the statue of Alois Jirásek, is now referred to as the forecourt. Jirásek Street flows into the central space, which is dominated by the facade of the former chateau brewery. Thanks to paving and the restoration of greenery, a new square has been created here.

Children's programmeThe basic idea of this programme is to connect the individual buildings on the Castle Hill (the Stables, the Children's Pavilion, the Church of the Finding of the Holy Cross, the Museum and the Castle) and their history through a unified line of interactive stops that will introduce the historical context to children in an entertaining way.

Angels on the hill
Through attractive visual means, the exhibition provides a space for visitors to encounter works of art from Czech Christian culture of the Baroque period. The artworks come from the parishes of the Hradec Králové Diocese and most of them are exhibited for the very first time. The exhibition also includes an entrance to the lookout between the towers on the facade of the Church of the Finding of the Holy Cross.

School at the castle
The School at the Chateau is a unique project combining experiential pedagogy and the genius loci of the Chateau Hill locality in Litomyšl. It exploits the potential of the link to the period realities, cultural heritage monuments and important personalities who stayed in the town. The current offer includes mainly two-hour programmes for primary and secondary schools focusing on music, visual arts, architecture and history.

Explore the revitalized Castle Hill - take the From Sandstone to Laminate Architectural Tour

We'll take you on a tour of Castle Hill, where new architecture and historic architecture have been entering into a harmonious dialogue for many years. The tour focuses on the historical buildings of the Chateau Hill in Litomyšl reconstructed within the framework of the project Revitalisation of the Chateau Hill, which is funded by the Integrated Operational Programme. The main theme of these special tours is the relationship between contemporary architecture and historical buildings. It presents individual buildings in their historical context and at the same time introduces the architectural concepts of their restoration.

Join us on a tour of this unique historic site and see it with a whole new set of eyes.

The tour lasts about 90 minutes and starts at the Piarist Church. It can be booked by calling 727 878 444.

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