Blacksmithing at Helfštýn

Every historical building has its specific feature, something that distinguishes it from other landmarks and makes it interesting for target groups. For Helfštýn Castle, this is primarily its interconnection with artistic blacksmithing.

The most important event to gain interest in the castle among the general public here and abroad was the organisation in 1982 of Hefaiston, an exhibition of works of artistic blacksmiths with practical demonstration of their creation. This was the beginning of the castle’s specialisation that created conditions for the castle to become the world’s centre of artistic blacksmithing over the course of 27 years. Activities in this field gradually expanded to strengthen the tradition of Hefaiston, which also motivated redevelopment of certain structures at the castle.

In 1986–7, a permanent exhibition of artistic blacksmithing was established in the basement of the palace, extended in 1999 with the exhibit of a historical mint with replicas of Renaissance machinery. The forge in the third courtyard was redeveloped in 1988, leading to the establishment in 1998 of the Blacksmiths’ Studio with a library in the redeveloped building of the former bakery. The international meeting of artistic blacksmiths, Hefaiston, was expanded in 1989 by the Blacksmiths’ Forum, as well as blacksmithing courses led by Alfred Habermann starting in 1999. Alfred Habermann with his collaborators created several sculptures there for Palacký University Olomouc (2002) and the Hefaiston statue installed in Gresten, Austria in 2004. After the death of Mr Habermann (28 April 2008), the courses have been conducted by C. Habermann, K. Bureš, J. Gargulák, J. Brixi, and P. Tasovský. Helfštýn Castle has been continually creating a collection of works of artistic blacksmiths. The exhibits are acquired through purchases of significant works, demonstrations during Hefaiston, and creation of sculptures at Blacksmiths’ Forums. Significant exhibits purchased by the Comenius Museum include, for instance, Prometheus (a sculpture by Pavel Krbálek and Pavel Tasovský) from 2002, and the Forged Game of Chess from 2008 (by Pavel Tasovský) – a set of chess pieces, included in the Czech Book of Records as the largest functional forged chess set.