• Terra Sacra Incognita
  • Terra Sacra Incognita
  • Terra Sacra Incognita

Project introduction

Between 2015 and 2017, the students and academics at the Department of History within the Faculty of Arts at Jan Evangelista Purkyně University in Ústí nad Labem became interested in Konojedy and Zahořany, two municipalities situated in the southern foothills of the Bohemian Central Uplands. These two locations were not chosen at random, since they share a great deal of identical features. For example, they have a Manor House with extensive grounds and landscaped surroundings, a prominently located monumental church, are accessed by historical, long-distance roads, and have a number of preserved authentic rural buildings as well as small sacral monuments.

Both sites also share a common past in terms of being colonised and decolonised and both are located outside the existing main arterial roads. In certain details, of course, they also differ:

Zahořany lies near the Elbe River, at an altitude of 165 m above sea level, in the catchment area of the town of Litoměřice. In 2003, 336 permanent residents lived in a cadastral area of 2.95 square kilometres. Konojedy lies at an altitude of 320 m above sea level, on the eastern edge of Litoměřice district and Ústí Region. The nearest town is Úštěk and in 2011, 100 inhabitants lived in a cadastral area of 5.69 square kilometres.

The Terra Sacra Incognita Project, competing in the Student Grant Competition at Jan Evangelista Purkyně University, aimed to document and analyse the preserved historical monuments in the cadastral territories of Konojedy and Zahořany and to evaluate the function and social significance of these two regions at the time of their greatest prosperity – during the Baroque era.

In both locations, endangered immovable cultural monuments were selected and then categorized into different types utilizing the methodology of the National Monument Institute: small sacral monuments, sacral architecture, manor houses, rural buildings and technical monuments.

Based on the results of field surveys, other monuments whose historic potential had not yet been detected were also assigned to these categories. All the historical monuments that were studied were inventoried, photo documented and evaluated, and assigned a basic written description.

For endangered monuments and buildings with yet undetected historic and preservation potential, detailed field documentation of their existing state was carried out. This included photo documentation and geodetic and building surveying, supplemented by video documentation of urban relations and dendrochronological analyses of their wooden structures. Photogrammetry, optical or laser scanning was carried out to identify endangered artistic elements and details with great historic value. Archive searches were also carried out on important monuments of proven preservation interest.

The detailed documentation of these buildings has become the basis for buildinghistorical and art-historical analyses, which aims to evaluate the importance of buildings for the historical development of settings and to define their existing historical value. The project was implemented by the academic staff of the History Department of the Faculty of Arts of Jan Evangelista Purkyně University in Ústí nad Labem, the students of Doctoral Studies of Czech History, and students studying for a Master‘s degree in Cultural-Historical Regionalistics.

Bachelor’s students studying Historical Monuments’ Documentation and Cultural History in the History Department of the Faculty of Arts at Jan Evangelista Purkyně University also participated in the project within their coursework. Consultants and supporters of the Bishopric of Litoměřice, the National Gallery and Prague City Archives collaborated on the project externally. The project, which was conducted between 2015 and 2017, was administered by the Centre for Documentation and Digitization of the Cultural Heritage of the Faculty of Arts at Jan Evangelista Purkyně University. The costs amounted to CZK 925,064 and their most significant expense was student scholarships.

The outcome of the project is a travelling exhibition documenting endangered historical monuments and places of historical interest in the municipalities of Zahořany and Konojedy. This demonstrates, for the first time, the potential of the historical building stock of both sites, relating to their historical development in the Baroque period. As part of the exhibition‘ s sophisticated electronic catalogue, there is an evaluation of the conclusions of individual members of the work group in the form of academic papers: Konojedy and their owners in a brief historical review, Urban development of Konojedy, Zahořany and their owners in a brief historical review, Urban development of Zahořany, Mysterious Křemín hill and its fortification, Comprehensive research of Konojedy, Comprehensive research of Zahořany, Road system transformations, Development and rebuilding of the Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary in Konojedy, Premises of the Church of the Most Holy Trinity in Zahořany, Stucco decorations in Zahořany, Researching Historic Buildings of a Chateau in Zahořany and Researching Historic Buildings of a Chateau in Konojedy.