The restoration work of the Kuks hospital is one of Grand Prix winners of the European Heritage Awards

Hospitál Kuks

The winners of the 2017 EU Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards, Europe’s top honour in the field, were celebrated this evening during a high-profile event at St. Michael’s Church in Turku, Finland. In the category Conservation Grand Prix was awarded to the Kuks hospital. “The restoration work of the Kuks hospital, an integrated project of building and landscape conservation, is of the highest quality. Its multi-, interdisciplinary approach is commendable and should serve as a strong example for conservation projects across Europe,” said the jury.

The Kuks–Pomegranate project was initiated and coordinated by the National Heritage Institute with support from the European Regional Development Fund. The site, built in the early 18th century, is comprised of the residence of Franz Anton von Sporck, built close to the medicinal springs of the nearby river Elbe as well as a spa, a hospital, a church, a cemetery, a pharmacy and sprawling gardens with herb garden, follies and fountains found within. Much of the complex was in an unfortunate condition with the vast majority of the buildings completely unsuitable for use.

The complex represents an outstanding example of Baroque architecture and interior decoration and embodies Baroque ideals in its symbolic physical arrangement. The Baroque fascination with opposites, life, and death is evident in the way in which those buildings dedicated to youth and life, that is the chateau, the theatre and spa are located on one side of the valley while those devoted to spirituality, aging and death such as the hospital, church, and cemetery are located on the opposite bank.

The hospital and pharmacy have had a remarkable history, having functioned as such from 1743 until the occupation of Czechoslovakian territory in 1938. After 1938, a district penitentiary was established there for German juvenile boys. In the second half of the 20th century, the building was a hospital for the chronically ill as well as a branch of the regional archives. The Kuks–Pomegranate project, its name taken from the pharmacy, was undertaken for the purpose of building an educational centre focused on this fascinating history of the complex, for hospital activities, the presentation of a historical and contemporary pharmacy and the cultural and artistic aspects of the building.

“The building and its history are important in a European context as the site tells a story which is conveyed through its educational program. Its continued use in a pharmaceutical function is significant. Hospitals frequently present a complicated set of issues in conservation as they are continually in need of restoration and technological advances. The Kuks–Pomegranate  project presents a solution which is well adapted to the new demands of the building while preserving what is present of its history,” commented the jury.

Maestro Plácido Domingo, President of Europa Nostra, the leading heritage organisation in Europe, and Tibor Navracsics, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, co-hosted the European Heritage Awards Ceremony. “It has been an enormous privilege to meet and honour all Award winners in the beautiful historic city of Turku on the occasion of Finland’s 100th anniversary of independence. Each winner is a shining example for all of us who care and work for our common heritage,“ stated Plácido Domingo. 

They announced and presented the Grand Prix and the Public Choice Award, chosen from among the 29 winning achievements of this year. The 7 Grand Prix laureates, selected by an independent jury of experts and entitled to receive €10 000 each, are:

Category Conservation

  • Baroque Complex and Gardens in Kuks, Hradec Králové Region, Czech Republic
  • The King’s Road across Filefjell, Norway
  • Cultural Palace, in Blaj, Transylvania, Romania
  • Roof for the Ruins of the Monastery of San Juan,Burgos, Spain

Category Research

  • Bosch Research and Conservation Project, ‘s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands

Category Dedicated Service

  • Mr. Ferdinand Meder, Zagreb, Croatia

Category Education, Training and Awareness-Raising

  • Centre of Visual Arts and Research, Nicosia, Cyprus

The Public Choice Award, which is in its sixth edition, goes to Mr. Zoltán Kallós, who has devotedly compiled collections of music, dance, storytelling and crafts of the Hungarian, Romanian, Saxon and Roma communities of Transylvania in Romania for over 70 years. It is the first time that an accomplishment in the category Dedicated Service to Heritage obtains the highest number of votes. 11,500 people voted for their favourite heritage achievements in Europe via an online poll conducted by Europa Nostra.