Creation of the project Historical roof structures - a Cheb phenomenon
Roof structures of the town houses from the 14th – 20th century
Cheb is an outstanding town from a historic point of view and from the number of preserved historic monuments. Recently a basic survey was undertaken of historic roof structures in the town houses around the main square was undertaken, initiated by the heritage care management of the Cheb town council and representatives of the Heritage Institute in Loket. Although the history of the town and the appearance of multi floored patrician houses with high sheer roofs indicated a possibility of preservation of historic roof structures, the revealed situation far exceeded the expectations. At least twelve medieval roof structures were discovered, twenty of the Renaissance and Baroque periods and more than twenty from later periods. Many of them present the earliest representatives of the period in our country and are some of the finest examples of the carpenter´s skill regarding the craftsmanship displayed on such scale. An interesting example is that the roof structures in the houses of the complete eastern half of Cheb Špalíček, so far generally presumed as recent from the sanitation period in the 2nd half of the 20th century, are actually of a preserved late medieval form. The survey raised again the outstanding historic importance of Cheb town in the context of the whole Czech Republic. In no other Czech town is there such a varied and coherent complex of historic roof structures. Only a few historic towns of Western Europe can compare with the importance of the Cheb roof structures.
Cheb roof structures are an exceedingly important collection of the Republic and for Central Europe. Within a small area there are constructions, built in various periods: Gothic, Baroque and Renaissance. There is no other such complex in the Republic. Their number is sufficient for publishing an atlas of historic roof structures. In Cheb, there is also the earliest roof structure in the Czech Republic – in the Franciscan monastery.
This treasure in the houses in the historic centre of Cheb was found by chance. The aim of the council to build flats in the tall lofts of the town houses required a building history survey. A route into the past suddenly emerged coming through the individual houses. Such unique complex of historic roof structures, preserved in Cheb in a very good state is rare even for Prague or Český Krumlov.
The building historian explained the unique state of preservation by several lucky aspects. Mainly Cheb was a rich town in the past. While in the rest of the country only single floored houses were built in the 14th century, the houses around the square in Cheb stood with three floors with tall roofs and vast lofts. The roofs were from their initial construction covered by ceramic roof tiles. Cheb was also lucky that since 1270 no large fire burnt down the vulnerable timber houses. The roof structures are also very massive and solid. Maybe the builders of the period were aware of the fact, that Cheb is a seismic active zone, so they built accordingly.
An important factor was also the lack of money to reconstruct the houses around the square in the 1970s, which would have destroyed their heritage value, along with the fact, that the town has never sold these houses. Cheb town as the owner opened these houses for public.
The Foundation fund Historic Cheb is founded by the town of Cheb.