The Mill is a typical example of the large number of decaying industrial architectural pearls from the 19th and 20th centuries rotting away in the Czech Republic. Thankfully, it has been undergoing a slow reconstruction over the past 5 years with a maximum level of respect for its heritage and in harmony with the surrounding village and landscape.
The Mill has a long and somewhat difficult to uncover history. Dolní Žďár was Sudeten and called Niedermuehle (Lower Mill) before World War II. The Mill was the center of commercial if not community activities and contained in its 3 buildings a bakery (complete with glazed brick baking oven), saw, store and warehouse. The mill was nationalized in 1948 and had reached a state of devastation by the time it was sold to private persons in 2002, at which time the town was trying to sell it to help finance the construction of a water system.
The present structures were built about a century ago, although there is evidence of a mill in this spot for at least three centuries. The water still turns a wheel - now it's a hydroelectric turbine, which sells its electricity back to the grid.
The Czech Republic is a cool little landlocked country south of Germany and Poland, with a national addiction to pork and beer. Potatos, cabbage, and dumplings are close behind them, and they also have this great bar food called "utopenec." It means "a drowned man," it's pickled sausage with onions, perfect with some dark wheat bread and beer. The Czech bread is legendary, like a meal all by itself.Czechoslovakia first became a sovereign state in 1918 when it declared independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The state of Czechoslovakia lasted until the "Velvet Divorce" of 1993, which created Slovakia and the Czech Republic.It was occupied by Germany in WWII but escaped major damage, unlike most other European cities. The nation's capital, Prague, retains some of Europe's most beautiful Baroque architecture as well as one of the largest medieval castle complexes still standing. The President of the Czech Republic has his offices in the Prague Castle even today.There was a coup d'etat in 1948 and Czechoslovakia fell under Soviet rule. For fifty years Czechoslovakia was a Socialist state under the USSR, subject to censorship, forced atheism and even the arrest of jazz musicians!In 1989, communist police violently squashed a pro-democracy demonstration and pissed everybody off so bad that a revolution erupted over it, finally ending the Communist rule.The next twenty years saw rapid economic growth and westernization. Today in Prague you can eat at McDonald's or KFC, shop for snowboarding boots and go see a punk rock show.The Czech Republic took over the presidency of the European Union in January 2009. This instantly created lots of political drama because the President of the Czech Republic, Vaclav Klaus, is a renowned Euroskeptic.We anxiously await the outcome of "President Klaus vs. the Lisbon Treaty", a world heavywieght fight sceduled for spring 2009.Text by Steve Smith.