Stonemasonry in the Říčany Region – Kaménka, Part 1

Pomníček v Louňovicích připomínající vylomení základního kamene pro Národní divadlo v Praze. Foto I. Malinová, 2016.

From the Louňovice Open Air Museum we follow the blue tourist trail leading south-east. From the signpost the trail leads us slightly uphill for about 2 km until we arrive at the remains of stone foundations of an old smithy used by the stonemasons. There is a place called Kaménka that abounds in large granite boulders. One of the foundation stones of the National Theatre comes from this place. The foundation stone for the theatre was originally brought from the memorial mountain Říp five days before the ceremony (held on 16 May 1868). However, the boulder was a hard and irregularly jointed basalt and it was not possible to shape it according to architect Josef Zítek’s design so that the founding charter could be placed inside. One of the members of the Society for the Foundation of the Czech National Theatre, a Prague stonemason Gabriel Žižka, hastily made a large two-part lidded stone block according to Zítek’s design in his workshop. The block was then placed on the boulder brought from Říp and on another boulder brought from Radhošť. The rocks thus formed a symbolic Bohemian-Moravian foundation of the theatre. Shorty after the ceremony a foundation wall was built with twenty different rocks from various memorable places from Bohemia and Moravia walled into it. The stone faces have remained exposed, only the foundation stone was completely walled in. Perhaps that is why it was forgotten in the course of time only to be re-discovered ninety-five years later in May 1963. The stone was then partially exposed as we can see it today with one slight change in the construction in 1983.

We did not know much about the origin and history of our most memorable stone when it was uncovered. Rumour had it that it came from a wood called Kaménka near Louňovice in the Černokostelecko Region, which is why a simple memorial was unveiled in the centre of Louňovice on 10 November 1963. This fact was confirmed and more information about the history of the foundation stone was revealed twenty years later when the National Theatre reopened after an extensive reconstruction in 1983.

Photo 5: A memorial in Louňovice commemorating the breaking of the foundation stone
for the National Theatre in Prague. Photo I. Malinová, 2016.

Barbora Dudíková Schulmannová, Vojtěch Janoušek, Tomáš Navrátil, Václav Rybařík and Pavel Vlašímský