Top 5 Open-air Museums

Top 5 Open-air Museums

Take a walk down memory lane and discover folk traditions and crafts. Visit the best open-air museums in the Czech Republic!

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We humans sometimes like to look to the past. We can either dream how the world used to be simpler and remember the good old days, or on the other hand we can learn from the lives of our ancestors. You will get a bit of both when you visit one of the open-air museums. Open-air museums are special museums whose objective is to preserve folk buildings for future generations and to show folk traditions and crafts to future generations. Visit them too! You will learn about ancient rituals, get to know old folk monuments, see beautiful mills, large farmsteads and small cottages and craft workshops, in some places you can even taste period delicacies.

Wallachian Open Air museum Rožnov pod Radhoštěm

The Wallachian Open Air Museum in Rožnov pod Radhoštěm in the Beskydy Mountains in Moravia was founded in 1925 and is the oldest museum of its kind in Central Europe. The open-air museum consists of three parts. The first is called Wooden Town (Dřevěné městečko). It is the oldest and most visited part of the local open-air museum and presents the way of life in a small town from the middle of the 19th century to the first quarter of the 20th century. Another part is Mlýnská Dolina, which is the youngest part of the museum. Here, you will find functional water-powered technological buildings. The location of the washboard, mill and sawmill is almost an exact replica of what this type of setting looked like in nearby Velké Karlovice in the first half of the 19th century. The last and largest part is the Wallachian village (Valašská dědina). Farmsteads, mountain chalets, a mill and a smithy are located in a landscape that, with its ruggedness, resembles a village on the slopes of the Beskydy Mountains. The interiors of residential houses capture the way of living since the middle of the 19th century throughout various social classes. Tours are possible with English or German-speaking guides. During the year, event programmes aimed at bringing old farming methods to life take place here. Fields, gardens and fruit trees are reminiscent of the growing old crops. During the tour, you can meet many domestic animals and a flock of sheep. Much attention is paid to the revival of forgotten traditional techniques and methods, folk art and customary traditions, as well as the re-enactment of social life as it was, business and entertainment of past generations. That is why you will discover many events here. For example, the annual Midsummer Evening in mid-June is the Czech folk celebration of the summer solstice, and at the beginning of July, the Rožnov Festival, an international folklore festival, is always held.

Museum of Folk Buildings in Kouřim

In Kouřim in Central Bohemia, about half an hour's drive from Prague, there is another open-air museum. It is focused on architectural monuments of Central and Eastern Bohemia. There are currently a total of 14 large buildings with valuable period interiors along with several smaller buildings and outbuildings. The most historically valuable building is a barn from the 17th century. The atmosphere of the open-air museum is quite unique, because the buildings are scattered in the form of a village of past centuries right in the old orchard. The entire open-air museum is currently being revitalised and adapted to fit modern monument requirements. The open-air museum will become a Museum of the Czech Village and the buildings are already being gradually situated so that the open-air museum as a whole gives the impression of a typical village of Central or Eastern Bohemia of the early modern period. You will receive a printed English or German guide for the tour. If you are in a group and are interested in an English tour, booking is required in advance by email or phone.

Veselý Kopec Open-air Museum

In the Vysočina region near the city of Pardubice, you will find another of the popular Czech open-air museums. Today, the Veselý Kopec Open-air Museum consists of almost 30 buildings, which together form a settlement with freely dispersed buildings. They focus on the life and work of small farmers from the Vysočina region from the first half of the 19th century to the middle of the 20th century. Farmsteads are not only complemented by small village buildings, but also by technical water-powered monuments by the Chrudimka River. The most important of these is a grain water mill. Surprisingly, water also drives oil production, among others. In the open-air museum, you will also find a unique fourteen-sided barn from 1680 and a caravan belonging to old wandering puppeteers with a collection of old agricultural machinery. You will receive an English or German printed guide for the tour. From July 2021, English descriptions, including QR codes with additional information, are available on individual buildings. If you make an appointment in advance, you can also arrange an English or German-speaking guide. Various events and meetings take place here regularly. The Veselokopecký Jarmark Fair held in mid-July is very popular, as is Posvícení, a feast festival held at the beginning of September, which used to be a day of celebration in the countryside full of food and fun.

Village Museum of Southeast Moravia in Strážnice

The Strážnice Open-air Museum can be found in the south of Moravia, southeast of Brno. Here, you can see folk buildings from the surrounding area, which are arranged in the form of a typical village. You will also find technical water structures, a wine-growing area and a meadow management area. In total, conservationists and restorers moved 64 buildings here, placed them in artificially modelled terrain and planted greenery to match their original environment. There are also expositions in several buildings, which will acquaint you with living and the way of life of people both in the mountainous areas of south-eastern Moravia and in the fertile lowlands. The demonstration of vineyard buildings and their equipment is complemented by a vineyard representing the cultivation of wine from ancient times to the present. You can obtain texts in English or German for the tour. And in case of available capacity and prior agreement, a tour in English is possible at an additional cost. Every year, folk festivities and celebrations are also held here, such as the construction of a maypole or a harvest festival to celebrate the end of the harvest. And each year on the last weekend in June, the entire open-air museum complex in Strážnice becomes a backdrop for the Strážnice International Folklore Festival. The entire programme will take place online this year, from June 25 to 27.

Chanovice Open-air Folk Museum

The Open-air Folk Museum in Chanovice is located in western Bohemia, a short drive by car south of Plzen. The open-air museum was built as a rescue exhibition of folk architecture, which gathers larger and smaller buildings from all over southwestern Bohemia. The whole open-air museum is one of the smallest in the Czech Republic, currently home to about 20 buildings on its premises. But it boasts one of the oldest folk buildings: a shed built at the turn of the 16th and 17th centuries. The museum is constantly growing and is still looking for old folk buildings in the region that no longer serve their purpose or whose owners do not have the means or desire to maintain them. The whole Chanovice Open-air Folk Museum is freely accessible and you can take a picture of what life in the Šumava foothills looked like in times long past. During the tour, you can request texts in English and German. Alternatively, it is possible to arrange a tour with an English-speaking guide with prior appointment.