Czech hops town Žatec officially receives UNESCO World Heritage inscription

Two months after it was announced that the town would join the UNESCO World Heritage list, Žatec received its certificate of inscription this weekend. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 19.11.2023 09:46:00 (updated on 19.11.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

The Czech town of Žatec officially received its certificate of inscription on the UNESCO List of World Heritage on Saturday, two months after the World Heritage Committee decided on the addition of the town and its surrounding hop-growing landscape.

The certificate of inscription was presented to Žatec Mayor Radim Laibl by Czech Minister of Culture Martin Baxa, marking the culmination of a lengthy process that began more than 15 years ago.

Mayor Laibl expressed his optimism about the UNESCO listing, emphasizing its potential to rejuvenate and restore Žatec's historical prominence. However, he acknowledged the need to persuade some residents of the town about the importance of this prestigious recognition.

"We are targeting tourists who come for a longer period of time. We need to sit down together and say who can do what in this regard," Laibl noted after receiving the UNESCO certificate of inscription, adding that collective efforts are needed to combat poverty-related concerns and invest in the restoration of neglected buildings.

"So far, the UNESCO inscription is perceived and appreciated abroad more than at home. We have to show that the UNESCO inscription will clearly be of benefit. Together, we will fight so that business with poverty is not here. Among other things, we want to buy the properties where people on welfare live."

Throughout 2023, interest in Žatec's hop-growing landscape has surged, drawing a significant number of tourists to the town's information center and nearby Stekník Castle, located in the heart of the hop fields, with over 14,000 visitors recorded by the end of October.

Žatec and its hop-growing landscape epitomize a centuries-old tradition, encompassing numerous hop farms, the villages of Trnovany and Stekník, and the historic center of Žatec with its 19th-century industrial quarter. The Ohře River connects these two integral components. The inscription makes it the first hop-growing landscape worldwide to receive UNESCO World Heritage status.

The rigorous journey to this esteemed acknowledgment spanned many years, originating from the efforts of local patriots and enthusiasts committed to preserving hop-growing monuments.

"The idea of preserving the authenticity of the hop warehouses came from the local association Chmelobrana," said Jaroslav Spicka, director of Žatec's Temple of Hop and Beer. "In 2007, the town and the monuments associated with hop processing were included in the [UNESCO] Tentative List for Czechia and the preparation of documentation began."

The UNESCO inscription is considered a significant achievement not only for Žatec, but the country as a whole.

"This is undoubtedly a huge success for the Czech Republic, for our cultural heritage," Baxa said when presenting the certificate yesterday. "The conditions have become very strict in recent years. We have managed another registration, and a unique one at that. Žatec has found itself in the company of Stonehenge and the Acropolis."

The Žatec region is responsible for the majority of the Czech Republic's hops, a key ingredient in one of its most famous exports. Of the 7,000 tons of hops harvested throughout the country this year, roughly 5,500 came from Žatec.

"For us, this is a confirmation of the exceptional quality of the hops we grow here," Michal Kovařík, secretary of the Czech Hop Growers Association, tells Czech News Agency.

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