Open access peer-reviewed chapter

The Role of Public Spaces in Small Municipality

Written By

Jana Moravcová, Jiri Pecenka, Denisa Pekna, Vendula Moravcova and Nikola Novakova

Submitted: June 17th, 2019 Reviewed: September 23rd, 2019 Published: January 7th, 2020

DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.89881

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Public spaces are a subspace of municipality space: they are its physical type, closely linked to permanent settlements, especially to cities. There are both social communication and movement of people, things and goods. These are classic, usually architecturally designed spaces between buildings: squares, agora, streets and parks. Public spaces in small municipalities have been crucial to the functioning of the community, their social, historically, and also economic life. In various types of rural municipalities, the function and formation of public spaces have changed over the course of history, often in relation to the geographical location of the municipality in terms of location or local conditions and customs. Nowadays, the tourist attraction of the place is also an important driving element in the form of public spaces. This chapter should show how public spaces have changed over time using examples of different types of municipalities and show examples of good and somewhat worse care for them.


  • public space
  • history
  • small municipality
  • urban planning

1. Introduction

1.1 What is the public space: definition

Public spaces are all squares, streets, marketplaces, sidewalks, public greenery, parks and other areas accessible to everyone without restriction, thus serving general use, regardless of ownership of this space. Public spaces are part of public infrastructure as defined by the Building Act. Public space is an area defined by urban resources, i.e. mainly the surrounding development. It may also be delimited by greenery (trees) or other spatial elements and methods (water surface, watercourse, etc.) [1].

We distinguish two quite different groups of public spaces, namely a group consisting of squares, streets, marketplaces or sidewalks (public spaces where mostly paved areas predominate) and a group of public green spaces (parks, small parks, park squares, other publicly accessible areas and areas with prevailing green areas) [2].

A public space can also be defined as a space for public use without restriction and regardless of ownership of the space [3].

Public space can be viewed in terms of its physical form, i.e. space, and in terms of its activities—the functions it performs [4].

The spatial characteristics of the public space consist of the following elements:

  • size and shape;

  • proposal of public space solution and quality of its implementation;

  • the nature of the area, e.g. the proportion of paved and grass areas and the use of water;

  • type and quality of greenery and its maintenance;

  • the character of the development that defines the public space (closed—block, terraced, etc.; loose—free-standing houses, etc.), or buildings that are part of the public space (in their area), their height, volume and scale;

  • architectural quality, esthetic standards, construction and technical condition of buildings and other surrounding buildings;

  • The parterre and everything that is perceptible in the walking eye horizon [1].

The following parameters describe the content and meaning characteristics of the public space:

  • availability;

  • accessibility—a public space must be a place where people can walk freely or stay freely without restrictions;

  • ability to bring people together—public spaces are meeting places;

  • ability to keep people present—space must be friendly to stay and people stop at points of interest or lines [5];

  • liveliness, variety and diversity—the presence of people and the associated plenty of different objectives, as well as the diversity and interestingness of the street, square or park space itself, their division, opening and closing of views and the presence of greenery;

  • safety—good lighting and order and action in public spaces contribute to the sense of security of those present;

  • comfort and convenience—public spaces should provide the opportunity to relax and include places to rest or stop;

  • climate comfort—temperature on hot summer days is largely reduced by grown trees, street alleys and water features, especially fountains; they reduce space overheating and improve air quality in public areas;

  • continuity and interconnection with other areas—interconnection of public spaces and fluency of pedestrian movement (without barriers and unnecessary bypassing of obstacles) are important in terms of their use, both on streets and squares, and on green areas [3].

The characteristics of a public space affect and limit its functions, i.e. the possibilities of pursuing activities. Outdoor activities related to public space can be divided into necessary, optional and social. This division is related to the basic functions of public spaces:

  • service—providing passage, transit to destinations outside the public area and further ensuring access to users of public areas and facilities that make up the public area (especially civic amenities and housing), including access to supply, health services and firefighters, technical infrastructure service, and maintenance;

  • social—meeting friends and residents to strengthen relationships (it is important nowadays when contacts using communication technologies replace personal contact);

  • social—meetings of residents and visitors at social events, including cultural events;

  • residential (recreational and relaxing)—mainly provided by types of public spaces with a predominant share of greenery, especially parks [5].

The perception of areas or private land lying outside the public space, which is viewed from the public space—courtyards of houses, gardens of houses, etc. is the part of the overall operation of the public space. The quality of space and function of space interact. An example of the interaction of space and function is already evident in the basic function of most public spaces, i.e. as a space intended for movement beyond a certain target. Whether a citizen or visitor uses the public space and for how long depends on the quality of the space, its characteristics, and other functions that it performs. Public spaces are currently faced with many other problems in addition to traffic pressure. These relate to the priorities of society, lifestyle, economic opportunities and many other conditions that affect public spaces. The following are some of the most pressing problems of public spaces [4].

1.2 Types of villages in the Czech Republic

This study deals with public space in small municipalities, i.e. in municipalities of the village category. The village is the basic settlement unit in the rural area, which as the administrative unit is called rural village. The village is then usually defined by a maximum number of inhabitants, between 2000 and 5000 inhabitants [6]. It is usually a specific social community with traditional own material and spiritual culture and functions. The actual form of today’s village is influenced by long-term development, both in functional and geographical and spatial terms [7].

From a spatial point of view, several different types of rural settlements can be distinguished. The most common classification is based on works [2, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12].

The publication of Ref. [11] defines the basic seven types of municipalities, including:

  • A scattered courtyard village characteristic for mountainous terrains;

  • Natural type of village otherwise described as a type of mass village with irregular ground plan, characteristic especially for the oldest inhabited areas;

  • Line villages characterized by their elongated linear arrangement;

  • Road villages characterized by tight arrangement of individual dwellings and buildings along the road;

  • A street, i.e. a road village intersected by a road of local character, which can subsequently grow into a street or wide street, when the area is secondary to the local extension of the road;

  • A rope village, where objects are typically arranged irregularly mostly along a stream or path;

  • Square type of villages characterized by the arrangement of objects around a differently shaped square (square, triangular, round or irregular).

The second possible classification according to Černý [8] involves a total of nine categories of villages, namely:

  • Natural type of village, bound to local geographical conditions without regular structure, which is mostly a mountain type of mass villages;

  • Norm villages, i.e. villages mostly established in the late Middle Ages according to a well-defined plan;

  • Forest field villages founded during the late Great Colonization with the arrangement of houses in rows in wooded terrain;

  • Short forest field villages characterized by one or two rows of houses with a maximum village length of up to 500 m;

  • Forest square villages typically arranged in a circular shape with radial land around;

  • Road village characterized by two rows of houses along the perimeter of the road;

  • Roadside labels typical of the local extension of the road in the middle of the village, where the extension forms a small square;

  • Street villages typically accessible only from one side, with houses perpendicular to the entire road and at its dead end;

  • Square villages, i.e. a typical settlement with a generously designed village area with the location of a church, chapel, pond or school.

The third classification according to Frolec and Vařeka [9] defines only six separate types of village, including:

  • A mass village typical of late-colonized mountain forested areas;

  • Terraced village, mostly double-row in flat terrain with a burrowing land;

  • A row village, arranged linearly along roads, watercourses and areas;

  • A woodland village typical of the terraced order of the individual colonies from the Great Colonization era;

  • Forest village, a circular settlement in later populated parts of the country;

  • Village with a closed trailer area of different shapes and uses.

The last classification according to Pešta [12] includes a total of seven types of village. Particularly speaking about:

  • Villages, which are regularly based on norms based on the given ground plan;

  • Bulk burial villages, which, unlike the previous type, do not have a regular ground plan arrangement;

  • Growing road villages, which usually arose spontaneously along the road;

  • Linear communication villages that originated linearly according to any remote element such as communication or watercourse;

  • Rope village, created as a grouping of settlements with a sprout along a linear element or a round square;

  • Row or row villages located in one or two rows around roads in the eighteenth century;

  • A chain village based on the Moravian-Slovak border with an irregular ground plan.


2. Description of individual types of villages

For the purpose of this study, municipalities representing individual characteristic groups of rural settlements within the Czech Republic were selected, with greater regard to the area of interest of the South Bohemian Region, or Šumava and its foothills. For such a set of municipalities, basic characteristics were always found and both current and historical materials depicting maps and real public spaces in municipalities were obtained.

For the purposes of the map comparison, the online database of the Czech Office for Surveying, Mapping and Cadastre, specifically the stable cadastre map from the beginning of the nineteenth century and the current orthophoto map from 2017 to 2019 were freely accessible.


3. Village with concentrated ground plan and fragmented land around

3.1 Village road

These municipalities are always characterized by an elongated shape around a significant communication line. The houses turn into the gutter road, i.e., longer side and form a continuous row of buildings without gaps. This type of rural settlement does not occur within the area of interest, most often it can be found in the territory of South Moravia. The public space in these municipalities has been reduced from the beginning only to the edges of roads and municipalities usually have no other common areas. In history, so much typical areas for common grazing were, if possible, delimited in the space behind the barns. Extensive public space in these villages, at least in visual form, was made possible by frequent front gardens of terraced houses.

The example of the municipality Loděnice (district Brno—Venkov) was chosen as an example of this way of organization of the municipality. To compare a similar type of municipality within the South Bohemian Region, it is possible to use the example of the municipality of Dobrá (Prachatice district).

Village Loděnice comes from the pre-colonization period from the end of the twelfth century. Over time, the village has developed into its present form, when most houses were built as a row brick gutter development. The common public areas of the municipality were, like other road municipalities, reduced to empty areas of roads and part of the undeveloped space between two rows of houses. There is also an early Gothic church of St. Margaret, whose close surroundings also served the inhabitants as a public space. The available preserved map from the beginning of the nineteenth century (Figure 1) also shows typical front gardens in front of residential buildings, which create an extension of public spaces and separate public and private space. The map of the stable cadastre from this period also shows a very low representation of public green areas and the complete absence of common municipal pastures or permanent grasslands and orchards.

Figure 1.

Historical and contemporary map of the village Loděnice (district Brno—Venkov).

Since that time, the public spaces in the village have not undergone any significant development and their state is essentially unchanged. In some cases, they were reduced due to expanding development. In most cases, however, they have been preserved, although their purpose has largely changed. Similar to most municipalities of this type, public and semi-public green areas have undergone a significant change. The public areas were partially reduced, in the village virtually absent significant areas of greenery. The semi-public greenery in the form of front gardens near houses was often rebuilt or completely abolished. Areas often no longer fulfill their function and are used as parking spaces. If the area of greenery was preserved, there were often changes in the composition of green areas to a more modern form. In the case of other areas, development is due to changes in the needs of the population and to general technical developments. Public areas in the village were supplemented with facilities for public transport as well as collection points for waste sorting. In recent years, a historical monument with a statue of John of Nepomuk has also been restored (Figure 2).

Figure 2.

Restored public space with the statue of St. John of Nepomuk.

The municipality continues to develop its public spaces in the area beyond the former village borders. There are sports facilities and a cemetery. However, there is no greater background for the children’s population of the village.

A not very typical representative of this category of municipalities, as already indicated, is the settlement Dobrá. This village was founded very late in the first quarter of the nineteenth century as a timber settlement in the estate of the princes of Schwarzenberg (Figure 3).

Figure 3.

Historical and contemporary map of the village Dobrá (Prachatice district).

From the beginning, the village was situated around a local road without significant common areas. The village itself had no common land, and all surrounding areas were owned by the owner of the estate. Individual houses stand in isolation surrounded by small gardens with private greenery of individual dwellings. The village virtually from the beginning had no public space or equipment, and there was no church building. After 1945, the village was partially displaced and some houses were destroyed. There were virtually no changes in terms of public spaces. The village has kept its terraced development without any common areas, despite the fact that there are pensions in the village and it is a touristly exposed area (Figure 4).

Figure 4.

Comparison of the area of the village Dobrá at the beginning of the twentieth century and today.

The reason for the absence of public spaces and insufficient maintenance of greenery around the settlement is probably the absence of a larger number of land owned by the municipality. A large part of the land in the vicinity of the development is nowadays administered by the National Park Šumava, which has no reason to create common areas. The same applies to the land of private owners. Places for the collection of sorted waste are virtually the only public areas that the municipality manages for residents.

3.2 Road square village

A special case of road municipalities are the so-called road square villages. These are municipalities or settlements, which, although they also originated around the communication route, there was a slight expansion and created a space functioning as a village square in their central part. These villages also do not have to be typically built by gutter terraced houses; the houses are often turned towards the village green and the gable road (a settlement with a long square passing through a long distance or local road). These municipalities often originated around important market routes, where the extended square area often served as a market venue. These villages originated across all periods of village formation. The settlements on the most important market routes originated in the pre-colonization period, while the settlements in most mountainous areas are from the time of the great colonization. These are then typical of the prevailing German population. Public spaces in these municipalities are mostly represented by a large open space, which was used for holding markets or gathering moving merchants. On the contrary, in these municipalities, there is usually no public greenery in public space.

Mountain villages Kvilda (district Prachatice), Nový Svět (district Prachatice) and Horní Vltavice (district Prachatice) were chosen as representatives of this group of municipalities.

The settlement of Kvilda was founded in the sixteenth century as a seat of lumberjacks working in the surrounding forests. The basis of the village is a road forming the backbone of the entire settlement. Individual wooden buildings, including the church, gradually grew around the road. Part of the village forming the square was extended around the church. According to the map from the beginning of the nineteenth century (Figure 5), the municipality as such has virtually no common public space at all in the form of public greenery or common pastures, grasslands or orchards.

Figure 5.

Historical and contemporary map of Kvilda (Prachatice district).

The current state of public spaces is largely influenced by the fact that the municipality is very busy. Public spaces thus include rest areas, bicycle stands, benches, etc. At the same time, free parking spaces are left in the open spaces left after the demolished houses of the original German inhabitants. Due to the massive development of tourism and many free areas, the village has also created public green spaces in the form of a small park (Figure 6).

Figure 6.

Comparison of the area of Kvilda at the beginning of the twentieth century and today.

Of course, there are also areas designated for public transport, waste collection and sorting, playgrounds, sports facilities, swimming pools, etc.

A completely different formation of public spaces can be observed at another elected representative of the linear village with the extension of the village square, Nový Svět. Although it is a village that was also founded quite late as Kvilda in the seventeenth century, public spaces are minimal and poorly maintained. Historically, the village formed similarly, and it was mostly a timber settlement (Figure 7).

Figure 7.

Historical and contemporary map of Nový Svět (Prachatice district).

Historically, this village did not have common agricultural land, in the form of grasslands or orchards. Public areas surrounded the church and the nearby cemetery. The village after Second World War was largely destroyed because of the large percentage of inhabitants that were relocated back to Germany. At present, it serves mainly for recreational and tourist purposes. However, unlike Kvilda, the municipality did not adapt its public areas for these purposes. In the centre of the settlement, there are practically only public transport stops, but without shelters, only in the form of signs, and containers for waste sorting. The municipality does not invest or maintain any areas of permanent greenery in other public areas (except for seasonal cutting of grass edges of roads).

Another representative of this type of village is Horní Vltavice. This municipality represents a completely different type of settlement. The village was founded along the trade route already in the fourteenth century. Historically, the village had a small village square near the church with a cemetery and inn No. 3 (today No. 10). The extension of the main road also served passengers on one of the branches of the Golden Salt Route (Figure 8). The municipality also used meadows in the wider centre of the village as a common public pasture. At present, the key first class road is still going through the village, but the importance of the village no longer corresponds to the historical importance. Public areas of the village are very limited and do not serve their original purpose and do not correspond to their location. The village has created a secondary public area near the ski area from the second half of the last century and near school buildings with a small playground. At the same time, the municipality still uses grassland in the meander of the watercourse as a public space. Today, there are no pastures, but outdoor sports facilities are built this year. The municipality has basically most of public spaces in the form of green grassy areas with sporadically occurring trees in a maintained state corresponding to the importance of the municipality and the number of permanent inhabitants of the municipality.

Figure 8.

Historical and contemporary map of the village Horní Vltavice (Prachatice district).

The quality and facilities of the public areas are not too great and, surprisingly or not, positively influenced by the presence of the ski area and tourism. Of course, in the village, there are public transport stops, but without shelters, and space for containers for sorted waste. It can be stated that the road, which previously brought prosperity to the municipality and increased the quality of public spaces, is today rather harmful and the municipality is burdened with excessive traffic. It can also be an obstacle to greater expansion and improvement of common areas in the village.

3.3 Squared village (triangular or rectangular square)

Squared villages are practically the most common type of villages in the Czech Republic, or in the South Bohemian Region. It is mostly an older type of settlement from the pre-colonization and colonization times, i.e. from the tenth to fourteenth centuries. Squared villages are characterized by a more or less closed village square, into which roads converge from the periphery of the village. The green areas were typically public buildings, religious buildings, ponds, common municipal pastures or open public spaces. These were areas important for the economic and social life of the whole community. Squares can have different shapes, mostly regular, and rectangular, triangular or even circular. There are also municipalities with irregular or otherwise rugged village squares or with several adjoining village areas.

The municipalities of Vyšovatka (Prachatice district) representing the village with a typical rectangular square, Nebahovy (Prachatice district) with a rounded square, Zdenice (Prachatice district) with a triangular square and Ktiš (Prachatice district) with a double square were chosen as representatives of this type of village.

The village Vyšovatka is a typical fourteenth century colonization village with a typical German population. The village was designed from the beginning as a village with a large rectangular space in the middle of the village. This space served as a public space from the beginning (Figure 9).

Figure 9.

Historical and contemporary map of village Vyšovatka (Prachatice district).

A chapel was built here and the rest of the space served as a communal pasture. A peculiarity of the village was the location of small equally large gardens, each belonging to one homestead built around the perimeter of the village square. Since its inception, this municipality has practically not changed in terms of the layout of public spaces. Unlike other similar municipalities, the generous village area has not been built up. At present, there is a maintained grassland with sporadic trees in the village square. In this area, there is also a playground, sports facilities and other areas and facilities for meeting residents of the village near the replica of the original chapel. A major change from the past is the absence of private gardens in the village square. At present, the whole square is used as a public space (Figure 10).

Figure 10.

Comparison of the area of Vyšovatka in the early twentieth century and today.

Another municipality that was analyzed is called Nebahovy in the Prachatice district (Figure 11). This is another typical colonization village this time with a rounded village square. However, this village has undergone significant changes over time in the formation of public spaces in the central part of the village. According to the original arrangement, the village had a large vacant village square, in which there were a total of three small water reservoirs originally intended for breeding water poultry. There was also a grassy area for grazing small farm animals around these ponds.

Figure 11.

Historical and contemporary map of Nebahovy (Prachatice district).

Over the last hundred years, the layout of public spaces and buildings has undergone significant changes. The most significant change was the abolition of all three water areas that occurred on the square and the construction of other buildings either along the perimeter or directly in the square. The most prominent objects are the hospitality building and the village chapel. At present, a significant feature of the public space is also a memorable tree in the form of a linden tree and the village is complemented by other new trees. The municipality also has a public transport stop including a shelter, resting places for residents and also nowadays common places for the collection of sorted waste.

By contrast, the neighboring village Zdenice (Figure 12) is a typical representative of the village with a triangular village square. This village also originates from the colonization period, but its square area representing public spaces has not changed much since that time.

Figure 12.

Historical and contemporary map of Zdenice (Prachatice district).

The village has an equally shaped triangular square, into which only a village chapel has been added, and during the last century also a shelter for a public transport stop, a tree stands and small furniture. The peculiarity is that even though the village is near the previous village Nebahovy, maintenance of public space is minimal and does not even significantly renewed.

The last analyzed representative of the squared village group is the village of Ktiš (Figure 13). This village differs from the previous not only in the arrangement of the village square, which is divided into two separate parts, but also in size and significance characteristics. Ktiš has always been a centre municipality with a greater importance than in the previous analyzed municipalities. Ktiš is also a village from the beginning of the fourteenth century, i.e. from the time of the great colonization. Atypically, the municipality has two separate green spaces representing virtually the only public space in the municipality, given the fact that the municipality has virtually no common land in the form of common pastures, grasslands or orchards. Similar to the village of Nebahovy, there was a village pond in the upper part of the village green, which formed the centre of the northern part of the village public areas, while the centre of the southern part was a naturally elevated church with the surrounding cemetery.

Figure 13.

Historical and contemporary map of Ktiš (Prachatice district).

Also in this village, public spaces underwent a significant change during the second half of the last century, which included drying the village water reservoir in the northern part of the village square and adding municipal buildings in the close vicinity of the southern part of the village square. In the northern part of the square, the building in the neighborhood of the pond was transformed into a municipal office and a mixed goods store was built on the site of the former water reservoir. In the southern part of the square, there was a cultural house. A new natural centre of public space was the area of public greenery in front of the culture house and church, complemented by a memorial to the victims of the war and a fountain (Figure 14).

Figure 14.

Comparison of the area of Ktiš at the beginning of the twentieth century and today.

The municipality also has public areas designated for transport services and for the collection of sorted waste. However, what the village lacks is a larger area for sports and children’s enjoyment. Despite its undeniable importance, the municipality does not pay as much attention to its public space as it deserves. The reason may be the low tourist interest in this location, which does not force the municipality to invest more money into the adjustment and expansion of public spaces.


4. Village with free ground plan and compact land

Another historic type of villages are villages with a free ground plan and solid plots around a characteristic feature such as a stream.

4.1 Terraced villages

Terraced villages are the most widespread in this category. These are characterized by one or two rows of houses along a path or stream, mostly in mountain terrain, also known as forest field villages or field villages. These villages are typical for the period of great colonization since the thirteenth century and occur mostly in mountain areas in the border areas of the Republic. Unfortunately, very few of these villages have survived to this day, due to extinction in the second half of the last century, mostly after the displacement of the majority German population. However, some typical representatives can be found that have been preserved either in their original extent or at least partially.

For the purposes of this publication, the municipalities of Dlouhá Stropnice (district of České Budějovice), Chlupatá Ves (district of České Budějovice) or Jenín (district of Český Krumlov) were analyzed. A typical feature of these municipalities was the absence of a significant public space that would serve as a village square. Most of the municipalities used only common land in the central part, usually formed by the floodplain of the brook or around the local road, which formed the axis of the settlement.

The village of Dlouhá Stropnice (Figure 15) is a typical colonization village from the turn of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Individual farmsteads were built on the first river terrace, which allowed the middle of the river meanders to lead not only communication but also to create a large number of common lands serving as pasture and forage source for farm animals of individual farmers. The village did not own any other land in the area and did not create any other public spaces.

Figure 15.

Historical and contemporary map of the village Dlouhá Stropnice (district České Budějovice).

The village has practically no public space, which could be used by more than 60 permanent residents and tourists, for whom the location is increasingly attractive. Of course, as in all other municipalities, waste collection bins, a sheltered public transport stop and a public message board can be found in publicly accessible places. The vast plots of the floodplain with green vegetation are not maintained today and are only a landscape feature in the middle of the village.

Similarly, there is another of the analyzed municipalities, namely the village of Chlupatá Ves (Figure 16), which lies near the previous settlement. Furry Village is also a typical German colonization village from the end of the fourteenth century. The settlement had practically the same features as the previous village of Dlouhá Stropnice and was characterized by a large valley floodplain in the middle of the village serving as a pasture area. Unlike Dlouhá Stropnice, the current situation is somewhat different.

Figure 16.

Historical and contemporary map of the village of Chlupatá Ves (district České Budějovice).

Although the village also does not show any large public spaces with significant equipment in the form of furniture, playground, etc., common areas between the individual farms are in good condition and the floodplain is maintained as a large mowed grassland, despite the fact that the village today has only six permanent residents and is also a party of attractive tourist routes.

This shows that the interest of local residents, whether permanent or holiday-makers, who often take over the care of public areas in their own places, is also a significant factor in the state of public spaces (Figure 17).

Figure 17.

Comparison of the area of the village Chlupatá Ves at the beginning of the twentieth century and today.

The last analyzed municipality is the settlement Jenín (Figure 18). As in previous cases, it is also a village from the time of great colonization, founded in the fourteenth century exclusively by German colonists. The village was spread on both sides of the Jenínský creek, in whose valley floodplain was a road and municipal pastures, making up the.

Figure 18.

Historical and contemporary map of the village Jenín (district Český Krumlov).

Individual farmhouses were again located on the first terrace above the stream to protect them from the onslaught of large water. A primary school was also located among the farms. It is practically the only public building in the centre of the village. This village again largely disappeared in the second half of the last century after the expulsion of the German population, and currently, 30 people are still living here. In the village there, was in 2007 a new tourist site under the name “Cyklostanice Jenín” (Figure 19).

Figure 19.

Example of the area around Cyklostanice Jenín.

It is an accommodation and catering facility that not only makes extensive use of the facilities of former farm and residential buildings but also of former municipal public spaces. Since the establishment of this facility, there has been a significant shift in the care of land forming the centre of the former municipality. The land is partly used again as a grazing area for small farm animals (sheep, goats, donkey, llamas, etc.) but also sports grounds, a fish pond and a playground were created. Due to the increasing interest of tourists, as well as locals and holidaymakers, the areas representing the village have undergone a significant change. Of course, well-kept ornamental foliage and suitably built-in elements of the technical infrastructure, including containers for sorted waste, as well as minor elements of sacral architecture and historical landmarks, have become a natural part of public spaces. In recent years, even public roads have been reconstructed, which until recently were the only significant defect in the appearance of public spaces due to their poor technical condition.

4.2 Mass and court villages

The last two characteristic types of villages in our region are mass villages without a clear plan, irregularly distributed especially in the mountain terrain, respectively, farmyard villages characterizing scattered settlements freely in the terrain. These settlements originated relatively late in terms of establishing villages in our territory, mainly as a result of economic activities such as logging, glassmaking and metallurgy. These settlements usually lack significantly shaped common land in the form of public areas, and these areas usually do not form today. Unfortunately, a large part of these villages and settlements were destroyed in the second half of the twentieth century, both because of the displacement of German residents, who were virtually exclusive residents of these settlements, and also by establishing a border zone when settlements disappeared because of their inaccessibility. Most of these places were then demolished, only isolated buildings subsequently served as part of the border guards. Such settlements included, for example, Knížecí Pláně (Prachatice district) or Bučina (Prachatice district) (Figure 20). An example of an existing settlement can be Horská Kvilda (Klatovy district).

Figure 20.

Historical map of extinct villages Bučina and Knížecí Pláně (district Prachatice).

The first written mention of the settlement of Horská Kvilda (Figure 21) dates back to the second half of the sixteenth century. Settlement was probably related to the movement of people on the trade Golden Salt Trail. From the beginning, the local development had the character of scattered settlements and only a few places along the main road were the buildings more concentrated. Settlement for a long time consisted of only a few settlements and the population increased only in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in connection with the development of glass and woodworking in the surrounding forests. At that time, scattered solitude arose in the surrounding forests. The decline in population occurred with the expulsion of the German population after the end of World War II and then continued until the end of the 1980s. Currently, there are 31 buildings, of which 19 are still inhabited by 73 people.

Figure 21.

Historical and contemporary map of Horská Kvilda (district Klatovy).

The municipality practically never had any public spaces serving economic or social activities. The same situation persists in the village to this day, when practically the only area serving as a public space is a small area of public greenery in front of the municipal office, where there is also a message board and classic park furniture in the form of benches (Figure 22). It is interesting that the village has no need to create and maintain no public spaces, although it is a highly exposed tourist site, both in summer and winter. In winter, the village only participates in the maintenance of ski trails around the village.

Figure 22.

Comparison of the area of Horská Kvilda at the beginning of the twentieth century and today.

The absence of public spaces only proves and documents the strength of the traditional arrangement of this type of village, although tradition was severed in the last century by the displacement of indigenous peoples.


5. Conclusions

In conclusion, it is possible to state that the various types of public spaces in municipalities are largely influenced by the historical formation and geographical conditions in the place where the municipality was founded. The development of public spaces was reflected in the entire historical development, especially in the last 100 years, when there were major changes in the structure of municipalities in both social and economic terms. There have been many changes in the equipment of municipalities, development and use of open spaces, very often in response to changes in the mindsets and needs of rural residents. Especially in traditional agricultural areas, changes are minimized and reduced only to changes in population needs. The location of public spaces and their care (financing of maintenance, etc.) as well as their equipment is also strongly reflected in the exposure of the localities from the point of view of tourism. As has been documented on many examples, neighboring municipalities with different attractiveness for tourists have a completely different approach to public spaces and these are also widely used.



The publication was funded by the project of Technological Agency of the Czech Republic Nr. TL02000322 Thermal comfort in villages: feeling of inhabitants, physical reality, role of greenery and by the project of South Bohemian University in Ceske Budejovice GAJU Nr. 045/2019/Z Influence of landscape management on ecosystems, landscape function and organisms.


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Written By

Jana Moravcová, Jiri Pecenka, Denisa Pekna, Vendula Moravcova and Nikola Novakova

Submitted: June 17th, 2019 Reviewed: September 23rd, 2019 Published: January 7th, 2020