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„This unique baroque landscape, created three hundred years ago in the valley of the Elbe River, by the town of Dvůr Králové, continues to give us a testimony of a precious time. The landscape composition created by the magnificent ideas of Count F. A. Špork have been preserved until this day but, much of it still  remains a mystery. During his time, this was a prosperous and sublime place. Today the visitors can slowly discover wondrous pieces of destiny, as this grandiose spa and baroque landscape reveals its forgotten secrets”.







The original collegiate manor of Choustníkovo Hradiště, 1754.







Project Title



Historical Analysis of the Cultural Landscape of Kuks and Betlém within the Original Manor of Choustníkovo Hradiště





Output Type


General report







Expert guarantor VÚKOZ, v.v.i

Hendrych Jan



Jech David

GIS specialist

Skaloš Jan

DTB specialist

Dlouhá Eva

Historical research

Vávrová Věra

Expert support of NPÚ

Ličeníková Michaela, Truxová Ina, Jančo Milan

State University of North Carolina

Laura Demink

Other fellow workers

Borský Jan, Baroš Adam, Bendíková Lucia

Technical works

Janoušková Jana, Petržílková Jana


Authors of texts and photos: Hendrych Jan, Jančo Milan, Jech David, Líčeníková  Michaela, Skaloš Jan, Vávrová Věra, Dlouhá Eva, Vávra Miloš






Silva Tarouca Research Institute for Landscape and Ornamental Gardening, Publ. Res. Inst.

Departement of cultural landscape and sites


Květnové náměstí 391

252 43 Průhonice

Czech republic



hendrych@vukoz.cz, jech@vukoz.cz,









International cooperation


within the realization of the project “Historical Analzsis of the Cultural Landscape of Kuks and Betlém

within Original Collegiate Manor of Choustníkovo Hradiště”


UNESCO World Heritage Centre (WHC UNESCO)

Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt (DBU)

Fachhochschule Potsdam (FHP)

Brandenburgische Technische Universität Cottbus (BTU)

North Carolina State University

Pennsylvania State University


National heritage institute Czech republic (NPÚ)







Technical resources used


GIS: ArcView 3,2;  Topol 6.5;  FGis 2005; DTB: Microsoft Access 2002; Claris 4.0



In the course of the project preparation works the results of HKK_5016 and HKK_5018 research plans and sectional territorial sources of the Ministry of Environment of CR were used.






As an Introductory Note



The protection of cultural landscapes is a highly political act. It represents an interdisciplinary border region that comprises such diverse fields as protection of nature, preservation of historic archaeological, architectural and garden and park sites as well as land use regulations and regional planning. The common interest in the preservation of historical cultural landscapes and the legally determined duties concerning their preservation, offer (at least in Germany) a relatively good foundation for mutually coping with this task. Among diverse preservation interests exist numerous commonalities that can be put to use for the protection and preservation of each cultural landscape; at the same time, different interests characterize the often-heated debates in the preservation of cultural landscapes. Just as a cultural landscape is shaped through the layering of structures from different eras, the preservation and conservation of a cultural landscape is the product of different interests, which should be brought into harmony.


The present report speaks abundantly of the chances, challenges and difficulties of the preservation of a unique cultural landscape that was laid out in the 17th century in eastern Bohemia. What Count Sporck planned and realized as a unity, remains today in some individual areas still entirely in its authentic design; in others however, it has been handed down in a fragmented state. The present treatment of this valuable cultural historical heritage, which is significant not only regionally but also recognized internationally, is determined by current administration and ownership boundaries, questions of continuous maintenance and long term preservation and planning strategies.


For the Czech Republic, the present study documents for the first time a historical cultural landscape in its historical and cultural complexity. Besides a historical and topographical analysis, conditions and difficulties of the current management of the site are brought out. The subject of investigation calls for an absolute interdisciplinary approach to the study. The study unites the currently available knowledge about the cultural landscape created by Count Sporck, with the hope of delivering a basis for the development of strategies for and a sustainable treatment of this fragile work of art.


That this was possible is primarily due to the generous funding by the German Federal Environmental Foundation (DBU). The team of the Silva Tarouca Research Institute in Pruhonice, with great involvement, enthusiasm, reliability and outstanding expertise, conducted the time consuming documentation and analysis of the cultural landscape by Count Sporck and its development following Sporck’s death. For this work, I would like to especially thank Jan Hendrych and his colleagues.



Sven Wallasch

FH Potsdam





The original collegiate manor of Choustníkovo Hradiště, 2001.




 Localization of area of interest within Czech republic.




Localization of area of interest within Europe.






1  Introduction


2  Objects Identification

2.A) Country

2.B) State, region, district, administrative territory, cadastre

2.C) Object name

2.D) Exact object localization and geographical coordinates

2.E) Determining the boundaries of the object of interest

2.F) Functional zoning and determining the surfaces



3  Specifying the Importance of the Site

3.A) The importance of the object and site

3.B) Comparable objects in Europe and in the world

3.C) Object authenticity and condition

            3.C.a) Hospital

            3.C.b) Betlém

3.D) Inscription criteria

3.E) Reasons for inscription

3.E.a) Economical

3.E.b) Historical

3.E.c) Cultural

3.E.d) Strategic

3.E.e) Social and educational

3.E.f) Environmental

3.E.g) Other



4  Object Description

4.A) Object description and brief characteristics

4.B) History of the object of interest

            4.B.a) Archive documents

            4.B.b) Regarding the bebinnings of the cultural development

of the landscape surrounding Choustníkovo Hradiště

            4.B.c) František Antonín Špork

            4.B.d) Founding Kuks

4.B.e) Historical Data Overview

4.C) Object geographical characteristics

            4.C.a) Wider territorial relations and localization of the territory

of interest within the CR

            4.C.b) Geological characteristics

            4.C.c) Gemorphologic characteristics

4.C.d) Pedological characteristics

            4.C.e) Potential natural vegetation

            4.C.f) Climatic characteristics

            4.C.g) Bigeographic characteristics

            4.C.h) Territorial system of ecological stability (TSES)

4.D) The territory structure and utilization, territory description



5  Conservation, Revitalization, Care and Development

5.A) Historical phases of the development and maintenance

5.A.a) Historical phases of the development and maintenance (care)

5.A.b) Kuks Hospital

5.A.c) Betlém – the stages of development



5.B) Conservation and revitalization programs in the progress

            5.B.a) The core zone

5.B.b) The protective zone

5.B.c) The wider territory of interest

5.C) Current concepts of the conservation and development (UP, PU, US ...)

5.D) Results of the programs in the progress



6  Management

6.A) Goals

6.B) Tools and structures

            6.B.a) Basic regulations, limits and recommendations for the individual


            6.B.b) Apperance convention of the new buildings and building

modificaions in the territory of interest

            6.B.c) Management database of the elements of interest, methodology

6.C) Financial preconditions

6.D) Personnel preconditions

6.E) Proposed programs

6.F) Description of proprietary relationships

6.G) Involvement of the public


7  Monitoring

7.A) Tools and provisions

7.B) Status indicators



8  Documentation

8.A) Bibliography

8.B) List of sources

8.C) History documentation

8.D) Status documentation

8.E) Legal protection


9  List of Graphic Supplements

            9.A) Old maps and plans

            9.B) Present-day maps

            9.C) Graphics, drawings, old prints, hand writings

            9.D) Photos

            9.E) Tables, forms, schemes

            9.F) Posters


10  Map, Text and Graphic Supplements


11  The Team, VÚKOZ, v.v.i.







The Baroque Landscape of Count František Antonín Špork


The National Cultural Monuments of Kuks and Betlém are among the most remarkable works of Baroque. Historically, they were part of the manor of Count František Antonín Špork (1662–1738) – Choustníkovo Hradiště located on the south-east edge of the foothills of the Giant Mountains on the upper reaches of the Elbe River. Count Špork with his enlightened thinking and ability to change ideas into actions impressed unmistakable appearance to this area. On the bank of the Elbe River he built the famous Kuks Spa (Kuckus-Baad) and the Baroque complex of Braun’s Betlém nearby. Count invited some excellent artists who created their works not only in the centre of the manor but also systematically and penetrated to all its corners with imagination in the spirit of the Baroque composition. The source of material to work with on sculptures was not only the sandstone but also the vegetation elements – the trees became a subject of the artistic expression and compositional landscape thinking. Thus this resulted in the masterful thought-out interconnection of the Baroque architecture, sculpture and painting with the nature into one composed complex. The end product became the supreme work of the Baroque landscaping with an exceptional concentration of the pieces of art, the area with distinctive genius loci. At the same time at the turn of the 17th and 18th century Kuks represented an important social, cultural and spiritual centre.



The landscape of the manor of Choustníkovo Hradiště has been studied within the international cooperation with Deutche Bundesstiftung Umwelt (DBU), World Heritage Centre (WHC), Fachhochschule Potsdam and Brandenburgische Technische Universität Cottbus on the project “The Development of Methodology and Instruments for Preservation of Cultural Landscapes of National Value (on the Example of the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage).” The theme was dealt with within the realization of the “Historical Analzsis of the Cultural Landscape of Kuks and Betl0m within Original Collegiate Manor of Choustníkovo Hradiště”.



The primary precondition was studying the extensive literature and collecting the historical written and pictorial documentation including old maps. This was done according to the tried-and-true methods of the historic work used for example in processing the building-historical surveys. The historical documents were obtained from different sources – archives, museums, libraries, collections of graphic arts etc. The map evidence including the historical paintings of the manor, the first, second and third military mapping, the maps in the stable cadastre, air photos from the beginning of the 20th century and current basic and ortophotomaps all have had a great importance for the cultural-historical analysis of the given area. The constructional-historical surveys of the National Conservation Institute, the forest economy plans, digital map evidence of the Ministry of Environment, department territorial evidence and previous study done in the territory of interest were also available.



Subsequently, based on the study of the available evidence the surveys of the territory followed and in the process of these – except acquiring any new knowledge regarding the landscape in real – considerations and theories about the purpose of the forming of the Šporkian landscape were tested. The landscape analysis was made, the photo documentation was taken and the social-economical survey was done. One of the key outputs was the registers (database) of the components of interest and documents.



sThe above mentioned research proved that F. A. Špork with his artists not only respected the landscape but also formed it artistically in the spirit of the thought-out Baroque composition. The nature itself was part of the artistic production with its relief, water courses, forest crops, the individual vegetable features and especially the specific atmosphere of the landscape – genius loci.



Špork demonstrated his relationship with the trees with his own cryptogram of FAGUS made up of his name.


The beech tree (fagus in Latin) that was part of the natural growth on the Šporkian manor became a subject of his artistic attention. Beside the free sculptures or statues sculpted into the stones in the nature he had a beech tree formed artistically into St. Eustach, the benefactor of the hunters, in the locality of today’s Braun’s Betlém near Kuks. As late as in 1778 this carving was recorded and described by K. J. Biener von Bienenberg as a carved and painted saint changing its form as the tree grows.



The creation on the living trees was much more intensive in the beechen growth in the so called valley of Mary or Hubertus in the distance of about 5km from Kuks in the north-eastern corner of the manor of Choustníkovo Hradiště. The valley became a place of hunting pastime of Count Špork and his friends. Historian Biener von Bienenberg informs us about the forest called Bokouš near Velká Bukovina where it is said that saints grow on trees. The alleys are said to be in the shape of cross and there are many carved and painted figures made of beech. The figures made 47 years ago grow with the trees. They were described as individual figures representing sages, saints, apostles, hermits etc. Apostles Peter and Paul were represented by a beech tree growing from two roots. Even Špork’s symbol of FAGUS and year 1731 was not missing here. Such hallowed groves were not quite exceptional in Europe. The appearance of thus artistically treated beech wood with follies, fountains and stone sculptures would obviously dramatically change as the time passed.



By collecting and processing the acquired map evidence resulted in making several new and yet unpublished in such a scope maps of manor that illustratively point out on the changeability of the landscape over the time. The structures of forming the landscape in the times of Count Špork are most loyally caught especially on the maps from the 18th century. Also the iconography of the times, catching the individual seemingly accidental features of the landscape that are the fundamental structural members of the ingenious Baroque composition give their powerful evidence.



From the point of view of the composition of woods the landscape composition was formed with the solitaire individuals, alleys and groups of woods that are illustratively caught on the 1754 coloured oil painting of the Choustníkovo Hradiště manor. The alley system formed in several bigger composed complexes is clearly visible here. The alley trees here in two or one line copy the original, today mostly extinct communications, make the coulisse to the pond systems and water courses, edge the boundaries of the forests or just stand at the manor borders. The alleys formed the natural connecting lines of the significant localities (villages, remote mill houses, gamekeeper's lodges and farmhouses, places of leisure or entertainment of the spa guests, the secular and spiritual bank of the Kuks Spa etc.). There are well-preserved and more specific records of an alley leading from Stanovice to Braun’s Betlém in the New Forrest and others in the complex.


The composition of the alley woods on this map lay mostly between Elbe and the southern border of the forest complex, namely in more friendly part of the territory from farming point of view. The more northern part of the territory is richer with the forest growths and only seemingly poorer with the compositional features. However, the map from the first military mapping of 1764–1767 proves that alleys systems were running through these places with the important function of connecting the important locations. With some of the alleys running through the forests or connecting the most important locations of the composition, we even know the specific assortment of woods. For example the alleys in the New Forrest and Valley of Mary were mostly beech and oak, the alley connecting the secular and spiritual bank in Kuks was linden. This alley is mentioned eulogistic poem by Špork’s court poet G. B. Hancke about the Kuks Spa:   “On one side virtues, shining through the beauty of the virtuous ones, on the other side in the black dark the misery of the depraved ones. Here linden tree-lined avenue provides shades for those coming here to find a quiet place.” In the same poem mentioned so called Maillen-Wald was possibly made of a formation of beech trees – according to the Belgian Maillen-Waldu “Over there is Maillen-Wald where people shoot on the targets and where maill and skittles help to kill their minutes.”



Beside the beech, oak and linden alleys also the fruit alleys were well represented along the land borders, especially fields and meadows. The sketch of an unknown village acquired from a family archive of Šporks gives us more specific image about the way of segmentation and application of woods in the landscape.



The separate and very important chapter in the compositional perception of the territorial complex of the manor are the solitaire trees. Their location in the terrain is evident on the old maps and paintings and engravings of the time. For example the engraving of Kuks Spa made by A. Wortman (1727) catches two solitaire woods growing near each other north of Maillen-Waldu on the bank of Drahyně. The two woods and other pieces were discovered based on the created functioning and tried in the terrain compositional axis segmentation of the territory. On the territory of the Špork’s manor there is a number of giants with more than 5 to 6 meters in circumference (1.3 m above the ground). Only some woods (e.g. a linden and a group of six oak trees at Stanovice or three linden in the in the town of Kuks) are registered as the memorial trees. Oftentimes more powerful and more valuable woods, found using the analysis of probable composition, mostly in the localities more remote from towns, are not in the included in the register of the memorial trees.



At the time of creating the landscape composition count Špork, most likely in cooperation with the distinguished landscape designer and garden architect Jan Henryk Klemm, already counted with these giants, about 100 years old at the time. According to the terrain surveys especially the oaks are proved. It needs to be noted that the F. A. Špork’s landscape designing often went beyond the boundaries of the manor.



The solitaire woods that Špork had deliberately planted were found at prominent compositional points, accompanied and fixed important stops, minor and prominent sacral architecture and other outstanding places (hermitages, crosses, statues of saints, springs of water courses…). Till today there are some local names used that highlight the meaning and symbolism of the solitaire woods: By the pear tree, By the cherry tree, By the linden trees or By the beech tree. The historical records and pictorial evidence testify about the use of the solitaire woods – beech, oak, spruce and fruit trees – as the “boarder trees” of the Šporkian manor.


The most significant features of Špork’s landscaping were preserved in the historical documents and evidence. Currently we do not know any existing record about the idea of his compositional design, we do not have, except our own tried axial system, any other supported evidence of significant compositional features, except the current condition of the landscape. Perhaps the continuous economic administration of Špork’s descendants and the legacy to the Order of St. Hubertus resulted in the beginning of the 19th century in fixing some of the prominent places, today in many cases unknown, with planting the beech trees (current age – about 200 years) that may serve today as an important guide for their discovery.



The National Cultural Monuments of Kuks and Betlém with their “protective zone” (the territory of interest) form only a part of the whole area of the manor of Choustníkovo Hradiště. In view of the cultural-historical, artistic and natural values the whole territory deserves a consistent and complex care recommended in the proposed management plan.




The purpose of the work has been to document and make available the acquired knowledge that would lead to understanding, promotion and especially protection of the cultural values of this unique Czech landscape as part of the European cultural heritage.





Front page of the project.








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