Velká Lhota near Dačice

Velká Lhota near Dačice

The village of Velká Lhota can be found in the eastern part of the South Bohemian Region – unlike Velká (Hrubá) Lhota in the Region of Wallachia. Velká Lhota near Dačice lies in a slightly hilly landscape at 603 metres above sea level, it has about 185 inhabitants and it is a part of the village Volfířov.

Dačice is about 10 kilometres from Velká Lhota. Telč is not far, either. Both of these towns have an interesting history and they are very rich in architectural monuments. And what is interesting about this small village Velká Lhota?

It is an interesting history and a specific set of architectural monuments. You will see it soon, as soon as you reach the hill just before arriving at the village: a road is going down again and disappearing on the opposite hill between towers of two churches. Two towers, two churches and also two rectory houses create an unforgettable view from afar.

Both churches are Protestant. The older one comes from the year 1783, it means from the period after proclamation of the Toleration Patent by Joseph II. This Patent brought tolerated existence to the Protestants who existed only as the secret people before. With the regard to the fact that the Toleration Patent was not officially declared and that it was possible to profess only the Augsburg Confession or the Helvetian Confession (not the continuation itself of the Czech Reformation), at the beginning Protestants from Velká Lhota were all registered as the Lutherans. When a news about a possibility to join the Helvetian Confession (which was closer to the Czech Protestants) reached them, in 1787 also a Helvetian congregation was formed in Velká Lhota in addition to the rest of the Lutherans.

Then members of both congregations used together the Lutheran house of prayer which was originally built according to the restrictive toleration rules. The change came after 1861 when so called Protestant Patent was issued. This Patent formally emancipated legal churches with the Roman Catholic Church and all (members of the Protestant churches) could build churches with towers and bells. In 1868 the reformed Protestants began to build their own church on the other side of the road, according to a position which is called “top“, in a historicist style with Neo-Romanesque and Neo-Renaissance elements, with a Neo-Baroque pulpit at the front and with a quadrilateral tower. This church was consecrated on the 21th of October 1873. In 1876 a quadrilateral tower was added to the existing Lutheran house of prayer and the church got its Neo-Gothic appearance. The same style is also reflected in the interior (an altar, a pulpit). In the 1830s both rectories were rebuilt in a Neo-Classicist style.

In 1918 Czech Reformed and Lutheran congregations were connected in the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren (ECCB) and congregation in Velká Lhota had suddenly a speciality: in one village there were two churches and two rectories very close to each other and connected by their ground plans.

Today this Protestant Toleration complex is a protected site; an organ from 1873 is a special item on the list of the protected monuments. An educational route goes through the complex and there is a permanent exhibition of the Czech Reformation in the European context which was oficially opened in May 2001 during the 11th Conference of the European Protestant Museums. On behalf of the Czech Republic this conference took place in Telč and in Velká Lhota.

The local educational route is linked with a tourist track “The Way of Waldensian and Czech Reformation”. Its middle part in the surroundings of Velká Lhota is already equipped with signs and information boards.