Czech Republic welcome Ukrainian refugees into heritage sites

Bečov nad Teplou Castle. Image: Lucie Krotilova via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Bečov nad Teplou Castle. Image: Lucie Krotilova via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Women and children from Ukraine have been welcomed into unexpectedly royal lodgings in the Czech Republic. 22 people are now housed at a 14th Century Castle in Bečov nad Teplou, in the west of the country. Among them are a florist, laywer, and piano player who have escaped shelling in their home country.

The castle is home to one of the Czech Republic’s most notable treasures: the Reliquary of St Maurus, which is said to contain remains of St John the Baptist as well as other holy objects. The reliquary was hidden after the Second World War, but was re-discovered by Czechoslovak authorities in 1985.

Currently, the castle’s value is not in objects, but in the shelter it provides. The country’s national heritage institute has allocated 110 beds across 17 heritage sites across the Czech Republic. Around 300,000 Ukrainians have been welcomed into the Czech Republic so far, meaning that every possibility for housing must be utilised.

Whilst the children are enjoying their time living in the castle and the sense of adventure, their mothers have hopes to return home.

“Yes, they are living in a castle, but there’s certainly no bonus involved” castle caretaker Tomas Wizovsky told AFP. The castle is now decorated to show support for Ukraine, and a yellow and blue flag flies atop the tower.

The families are staying in apartments that are usually reserved for external staff. Whereas the castle would usually hire visiting tour guides, this year they will only employ locals who have a place to stay already, to ensure that they can accommodate the refugees.

Source: France24/AFP.

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