EVEN the smallest villages on the very edge of Slovakia frequently boast a manor house or a mansion. They are in various conditions and in the ownership of the state, municipalities, churches or individuals. Many of them are under state protection as national historical and cultural heritage and it often happens that when the original owner is not able to take proper care of the historical real estate, he or she offers it for sale.
The Monuments Board of the Slovak Republic, the state organisation responsible for protection of the historical and cultural heritage of Slovakia, creates a catalogue of historical real estate whose owners offer them for sale, in an effort to find a proper caretaker of cultural heritage. The catalogue contains mostly manor houses and mansions, but also contains bigger edifices such as castles or other historical real estate, the Monuments Board writes on its website.
The Slovak Spectator spoke to Ľuboslav Škoviera from the state information system department at the Monuments Board about the catalogue and the sale of historical real estate in Slovakia.
The Slovak Spectator (TSS): What kind and how many protected historical buildings in Slovakia are now for sale? Who are their owners?
Ľuboslav Škoviera (ĽŠ): In the catalogue of monuments which owners are offering for sale are 45 immovable national cultural monuments as of today [July 19].
Most of them are manor houses and mansions, but there are also four houses, a town hall, a lyceum, two synagogues, a summer house and part of a castle. This real estate is in the ownership of municipalities (17), private individuals (12), churches (4), the state (4) and limited and joint-stock companies (8).
TSS: For what purposes, except museums, can protected historical buildings be used? What purposes do you see as suitable?
ĽŠ: We can find all possible forms of usage. If a historical monument does not serve its original purpose, which is the most adequate use for it, then we prefer usage for cultural purposes and in tourism, but there are also other suitable uses for specific objects.
TSS: What is the interest in purchasing historical monuments in Slovakia? Has the interest changed over the last years? Who are those interested?
ĽŠ: So far more than 500 pieces of real estate have gone through the catalogue.
Those interested include, apart from better-off people, Slovak and foreign companies. One particular change is that those interested have been finding suitable real estate with more and more difficulty and further and further away from Bratislava.
TSS: What are the conditions for purchase of such a historical real estate? Can foreigners also acquire such a real estate?
ĽŠ: Citizens of EU member states have the same conditions as Slovak citizens.
Before the change in the ownership, firstly the pre-emptive right of the state by an offer to the Culture Ministry has to be fulfilled [i.e., the owner first has to offer it to the state, represented by the Culture Ministry]. The new owner faces limitations only afterwards during the reconstruction of the monument.
TSS: What monuments would you choose as positive examples for finding new functions for historical buildings?
ĽŠ: There are many such cases. When listing some of them, I could mention some manor houses, for example Belá close to Štúrovo, Dolná Malanta, and Veľké Uherce. The former power station in Poprad now houses a gallery. In Banská Štiavnica a number of historical buildings, mining houses and burgher houses also serve different tasks than in the past.
TSS: There are several cases when a historical edifice was sold but the new owner did not launch the reconstruction because he failed to obtain money for it or because he had not intended to and the monument deteriorates further. What do you see as the solution to this problem ?
ĽŠ: It is necessary to oversee such owners more strictly and check usage of public funds. We educate especially representatives of municipalities so they do not sell historical real estates from the municipality’s ownership too cheaply in return for unaccountable promises.
9. Aug 2010 at 0:00 | Jana Liptáková