10 years of being inspired by the Czech Inspiration Český Krumlov, Hradec Králové, Kutná Hora, Litomyšl, Polička and Telč – representatives of these six towns met in 1995 to set up an association named „Czech Inspiration“. In 1999 Třeboň joined the group and for two years the association used the advertising slogan „seven of the most beautiful Czech towns“. By 2001, the seven towns had turned into eight. The plenary session decided to invite Jindřichův Hradec to join in and at the same time declared the acceptance process finished. Later, Český Krumlov left the group (as to Jan 1st 2005) so the association may consider opening its gates to a new member in the future.
Some of the member towns are big and well-known abroad, some are smaller and not so known to foreign visitors. All these towns however have one common feature – a very distinctive architectural and cultural heritage making them well known far beyond their regional borders. The main objectives of the Czech Inspiration is to support tourist traffic in these regions, focusing on cultural events and publishing relevant promotional and informational materials. Each town includes among its local tourist related activities the promotion of historical and cultural sights in the other towns, using every opportunity to promote the Czech towns abroad.
Czech Inspiration not only presents the cultural offerings of the associated towns but also participates in these cultural events. There have been several touring exhibitions presented in all the associated towns. The first was an exhibition of world graphics of the 20th century, later on there were two exhibitions of photographs „Na tělo“ (Close to each other) and „Svět objektivu“ (The World of the Objective). Another exhibition of photographs „Letem českým světem“ (Briefly through the Czech World) showed the changes of various places over the last century using photographs taken from the same spot. Last but not least there was an important photographic exhibition appropriately titled „Czech Architecture of 1989 to 1999 seen by the critics“. Some of the exhibitions were accompanied by lectures and workshops at which the experts exchanged their experiences.
The associated towns have also realized the importance of adopting the modern European standards and principles applicable for the tourist industry to ensure further development of their regions. The Czech Inspiration has not closed its door to any other communal projects and significant social activities like the common humanitarian aid for Bosnia organized by foundation „Člověk v tísni“ (A Man in Emergency). Very interesting project carried out in cooperation with the Czech TV was the mutual exchange of the students of the associated towns and their counterparts from Northern Ireland. As 2004 was proclaimed the „Year of Music“, the Czech Inspiration together with the Prague Students´ Orchestra prepared a project titled „Music of the Czech Inspiration 2004“.
As far as the promotion of the association is concerned the most important partner has been Čedok. This nation-wide travel agency has presented the Czech Inspiration at a number of tourist industry fairs (in Berlin, London, Utrecht, Moscow and others) and has also promoted the associated towns in their incoming catalogues. Subsequently the agency has brought many of their customers into our towns. Another important partner of the Czech Inspiration is JITRO agency presenting the beauty of our towns in several tourist info centers in the historical center of Prague.
One of the busiest areas of the common activities of the member towns is publishing and distribution of promotional and info materials. This has been accomplished in cooperation with TYP Publishing House in České Budějovice. Every year the towns also publish Cultural Calendar where historical sights are presented side by side with various cultural events taking place in the member towns. Other published materials include thematic brochures such as „Toulky s Českou inspirací“ (Wondering with the Czech Inspiration) or „Na kole s Českou inspirací“ (Cycling with the Czech Inspiration) and „Jak příjemně strávit chvíle v 8 z nejkrásnějších historických měst v ČR“ (How to enjoy your time in 8 of the most beautiful historical towns in the Czech Republic). The association delivers their materials to the Info Center of the Prague Castle and to the President´s Office to be further presented at our embassies and Czech Centers all over the world.
It has become a matter of course that the association takes part in the events organized by the Czech Tourist Agency, the Czech Centers Administration and others, e.g. Tourpropag in Písek. Occasionally the towns present their projects at the press conferences for foreign journalists in Wien or Berlin, or organize so called press trips in which the foreign reporters arrive in our towns.
Since the foundation of the association the goal of the member towns has been to present the richness and variety of the national as well as regional histories. The founding towns - Kutná Hora, Hradec Králové, Litomyšl, Polička, Telč and Český Krumlov – want the visitors to the Czech Republic „to see the culture beyond the Prague borders“ which however does not mean that they would like to compete with the extensively rich cultural life that the capital has to offer.
„We make it our aim to emphasize the existence of other smaller towns and to bring their cultural programs to visitors from all over the world. Of course culture includes not only professional performances but also the daily life in our picturesque towns, the gardens and windowsills full of colorful flowers and of course their architectural gems, either put in modern coats or showing the traces of the centuries.“ claimed the founders of the association.