Czech and Slovak Vedute

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Are you as fascinated by vedute as I am? Did you know the Czech and Slovak Archives have an impressive collection of the vedute up until 1850? Vedute (in Czech, pl. veduty, sing. veduta) are detailed, often times highly topographically accurate painted or graphic pictures of landscapes, towns, parts of towns, and specific objects symbolic of the towns. In their elegant capturing of the landscape of the place in the past, they may resemble a beautiful postcard.

In a joint project, Czech and Slovak archivists compiled vedute into the online site Veduty.Bach.cz creating a fascinating collection accessible for free. Before using, it is helpful to read the Application description. In the search field on the website, you can type the name of the region or the ancestral towns and see the landscape, houses, and church your ancestors might have visited or passed by, perhaps on their way to the market. Even if you don’t find anything for the place you searched, the images of other places might provide you a nice moment of symbolically visiting the past, or seeing a monument, such as the image of the now nonexistent elaborate fountain from 1699 in Brno, Czech Republic (Brno kašna). In addition, you can find places your immigrant ancestor traveled through on the way to his or her destination in the US or elsewhere, including ports, for example Bremen, Hamburg, or New Orleans port in about 1850.

Although I could not see my birthplace, I found many beautiful vedute of the Spa City of Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad) where I lived as well. Below is a gorgeous picture of the oldest part of Karlovy Vary in 1652, provided kindly by the State District Archives Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic.

Vedute Karlovy Vary, 1652

The only obstacle might be the requirement of using the Czech and Slovak names of the locations. Hopefully, you can overcome this barrier. As for the accuracy, keep in mind that in some cases, these image sources might be an idealistic impression by the author, without any historical value (for accuracy, compare a depicted place from other sources in the archives, libraries or online if available). So explore http://veduty.bach.cz/veduty/ and feel free to let us know if you find your ancestor’s place of origin (region) or anything fascinating!

This post was written by Iveta Blahutova.

Vedute Karlovy Vary, 1652