Renaissance Houses at Slavonice
State Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage, Prague
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The town of Slavonice lies in the easternmost part of the Region of 6eske Budejovice near the Czech-Austrian border. It was founded at the crossing of historical merchant?routes in the picturesquely undulating Moravian landscape. Slavonice was at its economic and social zenith after 1530 when a permanent post station was established there. In 1750, however, the postal route was relocated and a period of stagnation started due to which the town's form was altered during the past two centuries only in exceptional cases. In the second part of the 20th century, when the town was in the frontier zone of the communistic block, its development was intentionally suppressed, which fact also contributed to the saving of the authentic urban structure and, above all, of the numerous complex of exceptionally impressive individual buildings. The basis of Slavonice treasure consists in the extraordinary valuable complex of burgher houses from the late Gothic period and especially from the period of Renaissance. Historical residential houses still set the character of the whole historical core of the town. Their coherent frontages round the two squares form a marvelous authentic atmosphere. The group of the most valuable burgher houses has preserved not only with their external form with rich decoration on facades, stone portals and window surrounds, but also with their layouts. Four of the most important houses still contain rooms vaulted with diamond cellular vaults ? the late Gothic phenomenon of Central Europe, which achieved its peak in the burgher architecture just at Slavonice in the work of Master Leopold Estreicher. Such vaults have preserved in houses Nos. 459, 479, 480, 520. The most impressive and the most numerous are burgher houses with sgrafitto decoration. The sgrafitto facades are an important and unrepeatable survey of artistic topics ? from simple diaper work to complex programs with historical subjects or galleries of family portraits or representatives of the ruling dynasty. The most beautiful of them are the houses Nos. 517, 518, 522, 453. The building of the today's Town Museum features, in addition to its internal disposition and numerous structural details, a dominant, original massive timber ceiling in the entrance hall. Some other burgher houses in Slavonice contain valuable wall paintings. Preeminent of them is the house No. 517, in the second floor of which there is a preserved former Protestant room of prayer with a set of paintings from 1568 depicting apocalyptic scenes. The preserved complex of burgher houses concentrated round both squares at Slavonice has become the basis of their exceptional architectural, artistic and historical value. Their imposing architecture, sophisticated handicraft design and artistic decoration demonstrate the welfare of the town and its burghers in the 15th and 16th centuries. The cqmplex of Renaissance burgher houses at Slavonice belongs to the most numerous in the Czech Republic. Houses have preserved on their original narrow Gothic frontage, with the external architectural expression corresponding to the visual concept of the Renaissance period, mainly from the time after the fire in the town in 1530. Several houses have younger, Baroque facades; the setting of the most important monuments is completed with buildings of the 191" century form. Predominant, however, are the Renaissance houses abundant in rich and imaginative morphology in the fagade articulation, gable shaping and artistic concept of sgrafitto decoration.