Path: Museum Tour/ The Wallachian Village

The Wallachian Village

The Wallachian Village occupies the largest part of the museum, encompassing farmsteads, wells, bell towers, windmills and gardens, and other related structures, all set among the jagged landscape, roads and clusters of trees to faithfully copy the character of traditional Wallachian villages. The construction of the Village started in 1962 with the aim of protecting and rescuing traditional stave and timbered houses, farmsteads and other buildings prone to dilapidation in their original environment. Other architectural components were added to restore the original historical environment in accordance with the most recent research. Buildings were selected mainly from the Moravian section of the Carpathian Bend – i.e. from so-called Moravian Wallachia, the home of a unique culture that shares its common roots with other Wallachian peoples living in the Carpathian region. Numerous species of domestic animals are bred in the Village, including the flock of unique "valaška" sheep, goats and poultry. Various rare fruit trees also grow here and characteristic farm products are produced on local small fields. Visitors can witness the atmosphere of the times when local inhabitants had to endure many hardships to survive and yet lived in harmony with nature, respectful of its laws and rhythms.

The folk culture of the region of Moravian Wallachia, situated along the eastern border of the Czech Republic, derives its exceptional character from a combination of natural conditions and the history of the region's settlement, including the methods used in the breeding of sheep and cattle in local pastures or the difficulties faced when farming in the unfertile soil and the resulting focus on forestry. Also the local dialect substantially differs both from the formal language standards and from other language dialects used in the surrounding regions.

The main characteristic feature of the agricultural production in Wallachia is the predominant use of pastures for the breeding of sheep and goats and the related focus on shepherding, sometimes described as "mountain farming". This farming method was brought by shepherds coming to this region from Beskydy and Javorníky (in contemporary Slovakia and Poland) since the start of the 15th century. The shepherds moved to higher altitudes, mostly in recently deforested areas, effectively colonizing the previously uninhabited hilltops of Wallachia. Gradually, they settled here and established close contacts with local inhabitants, who colonized the lower-altitude areas along rivers in the 13th century. They grew and bred sheep and goats in a typical "mountain-farming" style, shepherding their livestock from spring to autumn in deforested hills and forest clearings, living in shepherd's huts, processing sheep milk into cheese and other dairy products. The original inhabitants referred to shepherding communities as Wallachs or Vlachs ("valaši" in Czech) and the region began to be known as Wallachia or "Valašsko" in Czech.

The heyday of the shepherding life-style occurred in the 17th and 18th centuries. Each mountain village owned hundreds of sheep and used up to ten large shepherds' huts. However, the introduction of modern forestry and the competition of high-quality foreign wool as well as the competition represented by cotton, marked the beginning of a steady decline of shepherding in Wallachia from the early 19th century.

The Wallachian Village depicts three types of mountain farming.

The first type can be seen on the form of a shepherd's hut from Černá Hora near Radhošť, one of 16 large shepherds' huts formerly situated in the vicinity of Radhošť, each of which was designed and used for a flock of more than 400 sheep.

The shepherds' hut on display was used for sheep breeding until the late 1950s. Today it is used to demonstrate the process of sheep's cheese production.

The other two types of shepherds' huts include a so-called "stánisko" from Karolinka - Rákošové and a hut on "(sledge)runners". The term "stánisko" refers to a seasonal settlement of four related families, which jointly tended to sheep, cows and small mountain fields. The "sledge-runner" hut comes from Southern Wallachia, from the village of Nedašov situated under the White Carpathians. The hut could be removed and transported from place to place, depending on the location of sheep enclosures – so-called "košáry". This technology allowed for a close symbiosis between shepherding and mountain farming, as the sheep's manure was used to fertilize the fields and meadows in high-altitude areas.

The Wallachian rural society was strictly stratified. The Wallachian Village open-air exhibition therefore aims to depict the social composition of Wallachian villages in the period from the late 18th century to the early 20th centuries.

"Fojt" was the wealthiest farmer in the village – the hereditary mayor and official magistrate of manorial lords, with a farmstead situated on the best land in the village. The farmstead from Velké Karlovice – Miloňov is an excellent example of the living conditions of a relatively well-off mountain farmer in the late 18th century. The house includes such "conveniences" as a separate room for the farmer's retired parents, situated next to the common room, and a stone chimney, which became mandatory after Emperor Joseph II issued his "Edict on Fire Protection" of 1786, ordering the use of the stone chimneys in all new buildings including poor mountain regions.

As an example of the dwellings of one of the poorest social-class inhabitants of Wallachia, the Wallachian Village includes farmhouse No. 70 from Leskovec near Vsetín, a type of peasant cottage that was widespread throughout the Western Carpathians. The double-section floor layout with a tiny common room and anteroom allowed for a total living area of a mere 5.5 square metres, as one third of the room was occupied by a large oven. Cottages like this one were usually situated on the village periphery.

As a part of the grant project "Open-Air Museum, Folk Culture and the New Forms of Presentation of Cultural Heritage", the premises of the Wallachian Village started to transfer some of the existing structures and to build some new structures of vernacular architecture.

The transfer of the house No. 60 from Nový Hrozenkov concluded the construction of the so-called Hrozenkov Route section of the Wallachian Village open-air museum, designed so that the location of individual buildings within the village depicted and followed the characteristic social and economic relationships between individual farmsteads as well as relations between kinship and economic clusters within the village. House No. 60 is an example of a middle-class farm with additional home production (such as homespun linen). The original buildings date to the early 19th century and rank among the oldest building structures in Nový Hrozenkov, which were rescued from demolition and relocated to the grounds of the open-air museum in 1970.

The farmstead of a carter from Velké Karlovice – Jezerné used to be an integral part of the so-called "kula" – a cluster of farmsteads interconnected by kin bonds. The original carter farm includes a residential house, a barn and a cowshed. After the transfer, the carter farm was installed in a provisional location. Following the transfer of another farmstead from the same kinship cluster – Matocha's cottage, the Scientific Advisory Board recommended relocating the carter farmstead to the vicinity of Matocha's cottage, in order to present the historically verified close economic and social relations between the two farmsteads.

The farms represent an excellent example of a settlement with an affiliated economic activity in the form of cartage. Wallachian carters distributed homespun products, wood and various agricultural produce (sheep's cheese, plum jam) as far as to Budapest, Brno or Vienna, while their imports consisted mainly of salt, a product much needed in sheep breeding.

The grounds of the Wallachian Village include, among others, the Protestant toleration church, a scientific re-enactment of the timbered building originally built in accordance with the provisions of the Edict on Religious Tolerance (1781), which allowed the practice of non-Catholic creeds in the Czech lands. The simple hall structure with its hip roof, no bell tower, home-made interior facilities and fittings, using cheap building materials and situated on the village periphery, represents the church architecture as restricted by a wide range of prohibitions. The original church, which was used as a chapel in Huslenky since 1786, had to be demolished as early as in the late 19th century due to its bad technical condition, yet its very existence witnessed radical changes in the life of the religious community at the end of the 18th century following the centuries of hardship faced by the strong Protestant community in the Wallachia region.

The village school from Velké Karlovice – Miloňov represents a new type of public building, which reflects both the traditions of folk architecture and the new trends in the period public buildings, whose construction plans had to be approved by the relevant authorities. A small bell tower is situated on the school roof to signal the start and end of school lessons as well as any emergency situations. The school building expands the range of vernacular structures within the Wallachian Village, displaying both the interior and the exterior of a single-class rural school and depicting even the living and social conditions of teachers of that period. The classroom itself can be used both as a museum exhibit and for demonstration of tuition methods in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The original late 19th century timbered building has not survived the inexorable passage of time. The school building is therefore a scientific restoration of a late 19th-century rural school built according to the technical documentation preserved.

The set of buildings consisting of an inn, a store with a slaughterhouse and ice house represents a scientific re-enactment an atypical rural economic unit – an inn operating as a local store and a slaughterhouse. The timbered house from Zděchov dates back to the early 19th century and was adapted several times to match the business needs of its owner, which included keeping both the inn and the store. The layout and the structural arrangement of the homestead differ from those of other village buildings, and consist of a larger barn and cowshed and smaller areas devoted to otherwise prevailing agricultural activities. The set of buildings also includes a rectangular stone ice house.

The interior exhibitions display the living style of Wallachian inhabitants from the late 18th to the early 20th century – the landless peasants, small and mid-range farmers as well as wealthy free landowners. The interiors also include samples of home-made products, such as linen, rugs and carpets, ropes, processed sheep's wool and blacksmith's or cartwright's tools and products.

Residential houses are complemented by adjoining farm buildings – cowsheds, barns and special structures such as a windmill, bell tower, cellars, pantries or dried-fruit kilns.

True to the legacy of the founding Jaroněk brothers, the Wallachian Open-Air Museum strives to create a "living museum" – a breathing and living space intended for the celebration of folk customs, traditions and ingenuity.

The Wallachian Village is a popular venue for numerous programmes to accompany the Wallachian Year project, presenting the traditional trades and crafts, customs or technologies, as well as various educational programmes for schools.


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