Small monuments keep memories of the cultural landscape alive

Many people may not associate the Ústí region with historical cultural landscapes. Maybe not even with vibrant communities. However, in many parts of the Ústí region, people are working together to care for small monuments, building on the work of earlier inhabitants of the region. Via Foundation, thanks to the generosity of its donors, is able to contribute to some of these renovations

Repairing wayside crosses, places of worship or chapels is not usually a high priority in municipal budgets. It is possible to apply for funding from state or European funds, but not everyone is eligible, and complicated grant conditions or mandatory co-financing may discourage some applicants. Renovations led by residents, local associations or informal groups are an alternative, although some of the work has to be carried out by a qualified craftspeople – a blacksmith, stonemason, plasterer, etc., and this requires funding. That’s where Via Foundation’s community grant program comes in. It enables people who want to engage the community in high-quality renovation of a small cultural monument to apply for support. Below we share a few recently supported small monument restoration projects in the Ústí region..

A renovated cross in Žežice offers hikers a picturesque rest stop in the countryside

Žežice is part of the municipality of Chuderov and lies just a few kilometers northeast of Ústí nad Labem. It is home to the Domek 2018 (“Home 2018”) association, which serves to improve the lives of the inhabitants of a number of villages: Chuderov, Chuderovec, Libov, Lipová, Radešín, Žežice, Mlýniště, Neznaboh and Sovolusk. Michal Vejlupek, a member of the association, initiated the renovation project of a cross located on the outskirts of Žežice. The actual renovation was carried out by stonemason Josef Sotona from the nearby village of Mnichov and blacksmith Milan Borkovec from Žežice. Before they started work, local residents cleared the overgrowth around the monument and landscaped the whole area. The municipality installed a bench at the site. At the end of November 2023, a ceremonial consecration of the cross by Archdeacon Miroslav Šimáček took place, accompanied by a small neighborhood festival. Forty people from Žežice and surrounding villages came to the event. 

About 10 people, including members of the association and others, took part in the renovation of the cross and its surroundings. They will continue to act as stewards of the site with the help of the municipality and the State Land Office. From Via Foundation’s point of view, the success of the cross restoration project lies in this joint care plan. It demonstrates the interest of local people, which is one of Via’s main criteria for evaluating applications. “We are most pleased with the positive response we received from the citizens of Žežice and Chuderovsko, as well as from the church and other interest groups. We have returned the cross to the landscape and restored a place that had been damaged and degraded in the 20th century,” says Michal Vejlupek of the Home 2018 association.

Restoring the landscape in Chvojensko

A couple of kilometres north of Žežice lies the village of Arnultovice. The Chvojensko association, which is mainly concerned with environmental protection, operates here and in nearby villages. In 2023, Via awarded the association a grant for a large planting of heirloom varieties of fruit trees, and a few years ago they received a smaller grant to enable commenting on a proposal to develop a logistics complex in the area. They also look after an old cemetery in the landscape. 

Through their various projects, they take a holistic and respectful approach to the landscape: they use historical maps to plan plantings, negotiate with local landowners to implement landscape enhancement measures, and have started to mow meadows with scythes. The association received its first grant from Via Foundation – to repair a historic cast iron cross – in 2012. During our visit to Arnultovice, we heard that collaboration between local residents and associations is crucial for the success of neighborhood projects. “We don’t just want to be neighbours, we want to be friends, and that is why we are trying to deepen ties between residents in our area. We care about the place where we live and its history, present and future,” says Iva Mudrová from the Chvojensko association.

Restoration of small monuments with the help of small donations from local residents and companies

There are various ways to strengthen local residents’ relationship to the landscape and their memories of it: inviting people to take part in restoration work, come to an event to celebrate a completed renovation project, or make a gift to help pay for the work of craftspeople carrying out the renovation work. To help local groups build a base of local supporters, Via assists them in developing fundraising campaigns on our online giving portal, 

One of the projects we supported in 2023 with funding from Česká spořitelna bank was the restoration of the memorial cross in Stebno, part of the village of Kryry in the southwestern part of the Ústí nad Labem Region. “We don’t know much about the history of the cross, but any older villager will tell you that it has been there since time immemorial. That means that the history of this small cross must be connected with our village,” says Zdeněk Kubík from the Stebno Ornamental Society.  

The project received “only” a little over half of the requested amount from Via, but the Stebno Ornamental Society decided to take advantage of Via’s offer to match what they could raise through their own fundraising campaign on The proceeds of the campaign along with the matching of CZK 20,000 totaled almost exactly the original amount requested. The Society was thus able to continue restoring local monuments, such as a statue of St. John of Nepomuk, a statue of the Resting Christ, a Cross above Stebno, and a memorial to the victims of the 1872 flood. “We restore the monuments and we also aim to make the paths leading to them more accessible,” adds Zdeněk Kubík. 

Cross in Stebno, before and after:

We are able to support hundreds of community projects each year through the generosity of our donors. Thank you.