The infocentre also offers interesting NPÚ publications, advertising materials and also plans to offer some selected souvenirs.
We have asked Petr Svoboda, NPÚ Deputy Director for the management of heritage sites, for information on this new NPÚ project.
The NPÚ is understood to be more of a scientific institution; what was the reason for opening an infocentre?
We have opened the shop and infocentre to be closer to the general public who our establishments serve. Our work comprises of both heritage maintenance according to law, and management of castles and chateaux accessible and interesting to the public.
Who is the Perštýn infocentre intended for?
It serves everyone who wants to have first hand information on monuments and also people who don’t have access to Internet, for example elderly visitors to historical monuments. This is where they can find all the information they need for such visits. They can also find specialist texts and publications issued by the NPÚ and related organisations. Visitors can find here e.g. Staletá Praha (Centuries-old Prague) magazine etc. Internet access is also available. Information is, of course, also available in foreign languages.
Isn’t there already is a similar facility in Prague?
That’s right, Perštýn isn’t really the first such facility for the public; there is a booking centre (http://www.npu.cz/pro-navstevniky/zpristupnene-pamatky-npu/rezervace-a-prodej-vstupenek) which mostly deals with travel agencies, but of course it can be used to make ticket reservations for attractive sites such as the Chapel of the Holy Cross at Karlštejn Castle or Franz Ferdinand’s private apartment in Konopiště chateau. The booking centre is located within the premises of our Regional Office for Central Bohemia in Sabinova street, Prague-Žižkov. Reservations can also be made via Internet. At Perštýn it is possible to buy all types of tickets and also make reservations for a specific date and time to visit any site managed by the NPÚ. The infocentre is open daily from 10am to 6pm.
What can the Infocentre staff offer to visitors?
Actually, all NPÚ activities are represented here – you can find books on castles and chateaux, we also plan to offer souvenirs and, of course, our people can give advice on which site is suitable for certain types of visitors. They can recommend and inform on cultural events and, of course, you can buy tickets to various events held more and more often at premises under NPÚ management.
If a group of elderly visitors arrives at Perštýn, wanting to go on a trip somewhere in Bohemia, can you give them advice?
Sure, our staff will ask them what they are interested in, if they prefer Baroque or Renaissance style, if they would like to see e.g. a jousting tournament or a craft fair and book tickets for them on a specific date.
The National Heritage Institute has been changing its approach to work with the public; can you explain it a bit more?
There are festivals, fairs and craft demonstrations held in numerous castles and chateaux; furthermore, we try to incorporate these events in comprehensive themes by which we want to show people that it makes sense to visit castles and chateaux more than once. It’s a project we call Monuments brought to life, now it’s time for Summertime Romance, and The Cry of the Hunting Horn in autumn, which incorporates theatre, concerts and night-time tours. We are now approaching a milestone in this project - Night of Castles and Chateaux on 1st September. This is now in its third year. The two previous years have proved that people like the extraordinary experiences which Night of Castles and Chateaux offers them.
Can you tell us more about 2012 Night of Castles and Chateaux?
It will take place on 1st September and so far about 70 sites have signed up, while it is not only about NPÚ sites, but all owners of properties. In general I can say that visitors can expect night-time tours with a surprise as well as theatre, multimedia shows and similar attractions. This year we have chosen Kunětická hora near Pardubice as the central focus, because it is connected with the Pernštejn family, who this year’s event is dedicated to. The program at Kunětická hora will last all night long.
The National Heritage Institute is trying to promote less frequented, yet very attractive sites. Can you give us a few tips for trips?
Take for example the beautiful Renaissance Kratochvíle villa which, like the most popular sites of Hluboká or Český Krumlov, is also in South Bohemia. For Prague people it can be e.g. Mníšek pod Brdy, Ploskovice, or even Důl Michal mine, or Zubrnice and Veselý kopec open-air folk museums. It is notable, that Litomyšl Chateau, despite being a UNESCO site, doesn’t get many visitors. It’s precisely places like this that our staff in the Perštýn Infocentre can draw attention to.