Historical Town of the Year

The Programme of the Regeneration of Urban Monument Reserves (UMR) and Urban Monument Zones (UMZ), was established by Czech Government Resolution No. 209 of 25 March 1992, as an instrument for the conservation and development of cultural values, at clearly defined organizational and economic conditions of their restoration and improvement of the environment, as well as for the setting up of centres for the promotion of business activities by the historical cores of towns and municipalities. Their condition after the political change in 1989 was woeful: the technical infrastructure was insufficient and neglected, buildings were in bad disrepair, housing quality was poor, the social structure of inhabitants was unsatisfactory, shops and services were lacking and property relations were disrupted. The endeavour of the Association to achieve a systemic solution to the regeneration of historical settlements received a response from the Ministry of Culture and the then Ministry for Economic Policy and Development of the Czech Republic - the activities were later adopted by the Ministry for Regional Development.

When the UMR and UMZ Regeneration Programme became fully established in the life of historical sites, the Association has come up with the idea to award the projects which achieve the best results. The decree setting up the Prize for the Best Preparation and Implementation of the Programme of Regeneration of UMR and UMZ was signed on 2 November 1994, on the basis of Resolution of the Government of the Czech Republic No.209/1992. The signatories of the document were representatives of the institutions-guarantors of the Prize - the Minister of Culture, the Minister of Economics (later substituted by the Minister for Regional Development) and the President of the SHS ČMS.

The Prize consists of a monumental work of art from Bohemian crystal, produced by the Rueckl Crystal, a.s., glassworks in Nižbor, which symbolizes historical settlements (it is a property of the Association, and the names of the Prize winners are being added in a blank space on the art work);
a replica of the Prize is presented to the winning municipality. The award includes a commemorative graphic sheet and the financial amount of 1 000 000 CZK.

The Prize was awarded for the first time in 1995, and the winner, the town of Svitavy, received it during the SHS CMS 3rd Regular Convention. Since 1996 the Prize has been presented at ceremonial sessions which mark at the same time the International Monuments and Sites Day (IMSD). The first IMSD ceremony took place in the Knights Hall of the Wallenstein Palace in Prague on 18 April 1996. Thanks to the understanding and kindness of the Office of the President of the Republic and the Prague Castle Administration, the ceremonies have been organized since April 1997 in the Spanish Hall of Prague Castle by all the three founders of the Prize - the Association of Historical Settlements in Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia, the Ministry of Culture, and the Ministry for Regional Development of the Czech Republic, in co-operation with the Czech National Committee of the ICOMOS and the Office of the President of the Republic.

On 16 April 1999 the assembly of mayors, highest officials of constitutional bodies and ministries, experts of state-run monument care, representatives of the state administration, non-profit organizations and the churches was honoured by the visit of President of the Czech Republic Václav Havel.