Revitalization of Betlém

Revitalization of the urban conservation area of folk architecture Betlém
in Hlinsko which was co-financed by the Regional Operational Programme NUTS II Severovýchod (North-East).

Památková rezervace Betlém

The urban conservation area of folk architecture Betlém in Hlinsko was announced in 1995. The reason for this achievement is the uniqueness of the urban area of largely preserved wooden buildings in the city centre. The origin of Betlém buildings falls into the first half of the 18th century, when more people from surrounding villages came to Hlinsko after the possibility of population migration had been granted by the Toleration Act in 1781 and the crafts generally prospered.

In the 18th century the Rychmburk nobility allocated former communal grazing area on the right bank of the river Chrudimka to the new-coming people. It was right here that the craftsmen, especially potters and weavers, started to build their houses. This part of the town was then called Betlém. In 1731 there were only two houses in this area, one hundred years later this space was already fully installed, there were only small lanes and front yards in between the houses.

Mostly petty craftsmen?s families were living in Betlém. At first they were mainly potters. After 1870, when the clay deposits were depleted, the era of a great weaver?s boom arose. The loom clatter sounded from almost every house. The local weavers were so talented that manufactures used their skill to establish industrial weaving in Hlinsko in the 19th century. As a result of this, Betlém gradually became a quarter of factory workers and their families. In addition to weavers there were also carpenters, saddlers, shoemakers, butchers, bakers, manufacturers of musical instruments.

During the 20th century a dismal history of Betlém began to be written. From the 1960?s people changed their lifestyles. They started moving to more modern houses. One by one, the small homes in Betlém were left derelict. The houses remained empty, decayed and gradually disappeared. Although the workers of the Office for the Preservation of Historical Monuments had been drawing attention to the problem for many years and lauding Betlém?s great value, its salvage only began at the end of 1990?s.

This unfavourable situation was changed in the 1980s. In 1989 the reconstruction of a part of the houses began, the first of which were made accessible to visitors in 1993. In the following few years other objects and public spaces continued to be repaired. The final phase of reconstruction and revitalization was held in the years 2011-2012. City of Hlinsko in cooperation with the National Heritage Institute - Vysočina Collection of Folk Architecture realized the Revitalization project of the urban conservation area of folk architecture Betlém Hlinsko and attached areas, which was within the support of tourism co-funded by Regional Operational Programme NUTS II Severovýchod (cohesion region North-East).

The project covered the reconstruction of the semi-timbered building no. 178, which the National Heritage Institute, region Pardubice, workplace Vysočina Collection of Folk Architecture recieved as a gift from its original owner Mrs. Anna Picková in 2003. The building no. 178 was the residence of generations of potters and weavers and belongs to most valuable parts of Betlem, especially thanks to the last potterś oven still in existence. From the beginning the intention was to use the building for educational programmes for school children, students and general public. The building no.561 was also reconstructed and a new tourist information centre of Hlinsko is now seated there. Part of the house is used for the exhibition of wooden toys from Hlinsko region. The neccessary new sanitary and technical facilities have also been built. The outside area was also rearranged ? gardens, public lawns, a stream, roads and routes including the historical bridge over the river Chrudimka. The whole area has been completed with a childrenś playground, a mobile amphitheatre and an information system. The general designer was ing. Architect Jan Chramosta ? studio KRUPOS, the project was executed by RENOS Pardubice and SATES Čechy Telč.

Pickův statek, 70. léta 20. st.     Pickův statek, 2012
The house no.178 in 1970s                              The house no. 178 - July 2012

The house no.158 in 1970s                              The house no.158 - July 2012

The house no.561 in 1990s                              The house no.561 - July 2012

Childrenś playground - July 2012

Visitors have the access to the houses with workshops of local craftsmen: weaver ś house, toy manufacturer and factory worker with a shoemaker ś workshop in a dwelling part for pensioners. In addition, there are held various thematic exhibitions in the houses,there is a souvenir shop (the house no. 180), restaurant, sweetshop, a pleasant café, small shops, accommodation for visitors to the city and even elementary school of arts ? art classroom. Throughout the year, it is possible to take advantage of special programmes for schools and the general public. Since mid-October 2012 the exhibition of shrovetide masks will be displayed in the house No. 362. This custom is recorded from 2010 in the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.

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