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Preservation of monuments in the Czech Republic ensures the protection of a part of the cultural heritage, which is composed of a rich collection of artistic, historical and topological monuments with a high standard of conservation and is a substantial and irreplaceable vehicle of the country’s identity. It comprises the material cultural heritage. According to the applicable legislation, a selected part of the monuments collection enjoys higher protection under Act No. 20/1987 Coll. on national monuments preservation. The most important cultural monuments are listed as national cultural monuments by decrees of the government. The objective of monuments preservation is to explore, protect and to preserve the monuments collection as well as to serve as intermediary and to pass it on to future generations. This mission concerns not only the public administration bodies, but also a very broad circle of entities, owners of cultural monuments and owners of real estate located in areas under monument protection.
The national priorities related to monument preservation include:
- preparation of new legislation on the state of play of monument preservation and protection of the archaeological heritage (substance of the law already adopted);
- digitisation of the Central List of Cultural Monuments;
- establishment of co-operation with the Ministry of the Interior in periodical preventive inspections of security systems at monument sites;
- active participation in implementing the European Landscape Convention;
- stimulating and implementing cultural heritage science within the elementary and secondary school system, and
- improving the efficiency of the current tax relief system for the owners of cultural monuments.
The national monument preservation system is based on consistent decentralisation and delegation of executive powers in state monument preservation to approx. 205 municipalities with extended competences. The state administration of a selected group of “national cultural monuments” (a total of 304 objects) is performed by Regional Authorities. The Ministry of Culture develops concepts for the development of monument preservation. It decides on the declaration of properties as cultural monuments and ensures financial assistance programmes for monument owners. Also, expert advisory service is mandatorily provided both to municipalities and to regions with delegated functions of state administration, and is also free of charge for the owners of monuments and centralised in the interest of unified expertise and methodological principles. It is provided by the National Heritage Institute (´NHI´), founded by the Ministry of Culture.
The current organisational structure of the NHI follows the actual administrative division of the Czech Republic (14 regions). The NHI organises and implements scientific researches and maintains the Central List of Cultural Monuments. It preserves and extends the collections of photographic and plan documentation of monuments, and gathers restoration reports and results of archaeological research. It ensures the direct administration, preservation and presentation of 109 major monuments (castles, chateaus, former monasteries, industrial sites and a set of vernacular buildings), which are accessible to the public (about 4.800.000 visitors per year). It preserves about 750 thousand collection items in the sites that are open to the public. Its administration also includes historic gardens and parks. It is involved in the Europeana web portal and contributes to the provision of digital data within the CARARE project.
List of the main legal texts:
The basic legal regulation is the Act on State Monument Preservation (Zákon o státní památkové péči) No. 20/1987 Coll., as amended, including decree of the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Socialist Republic (vyhláška ministerstva kultury) No. 66/1988 Coll., implementing the act of the Czech National Council No. 20/1987 Coll., on State Monument Preservation. The monument preservation act has been subject to many amendments. At the moment, a new act is being prepared.
The requirements and content of the plan for the protection of heritage reservations and heritage zones are regulated by decree of the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic (vyhláška ministerstva kultury) No. 420/2008 Coll.
There are also the Act on the return of cultural assets unlawfully removed from the territory (Zákon o navrácení nezákonně vyvezených kulturních statků), as amended by act No. 180/2003 Coll. No. 101/2001 Coll. And the Act on the export of some cultural assets from the customs territory of the European Communities (Zákon o vývozu některých kulturních statků z celního území Evropských společenství) No. 2 14/2002 Coll.
The main international conventions
- The European Cultural Convention (Council of Europe), ratified in 1993;
- The Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property (UNESCO), ratified in 1993;
- The Convention for the Protection of the Architectural Heritage of Europe (Council of Europe), ratified in 2000;
- The European Convention on the Protection of the Archaelogical Heritage (Revised - Council of Europe), ratified in 2000;
- The European Landscape Convention (Council of Europe), ratified in 2004;
- The Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage 1972 (UNESCO), ratified in 1993, and
- The Second Protocol to the Hague Convention of 1954 for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict 1999 (UNESCO), ratified in 2007;
- The Convention for Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (UNESCO), ratified in 2009;
- The Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (UNESCO), ratified in 2010.