Hartmanice - Žežulka

Žežulka is one of the places where the history of Šumava and its natural beauty combine. On the site of the former settlement of Žežulka, where there were a number of farms. Only a small part of them has survived to this day. One of them is the mill, the baroque Strezmühle mill, which is mainly thanks to the striking JUDr. Václav Hrabánek and his followers survived to this day. The history of Dr. Hrabánek's stay in Šumava was nicely described by the director of the Museum in Sušice, Ms. Zdeňka Řezníčková.

We dare to quote it for you:

JUDr. Václav Hrabánek, a non-professional painter who revived the Šumava tradition of holy images painted on glass, was born in Trieste in 1915. The family later moved to Prague, where his father set up the banking business Hrabánek a spol. and the son became his companion. Before World War II, he began studying law, but had to interrupt his studies during the war, when universities were closed. He graduated in 1946 and in the same year became the owner of the company after his father's death. However, after the coup in 1948, the family's property was confiscated, JUDr. Václav Hrabánek had to hand over the keys to the bank and was no longer allowed to enter it. In the following years, when he was not allowed to practice law or official work, he worked as a forest worker, a transporter, a driver and finally as a taxi driver.

In 1966, the Hrabáneks bought a three-hundred-year-old mill in Šumava, near Hartmanice, where they ended up living for thirty years without water, electricity and other conveniences of civilization, surrounded by deep forests. They were accompanied by a herd of Hucul horses, which Mr. Hrabánek loved and bred. During that time, this vital person, constantly brimming with optimism and good mood, got acquainted with traditional folk painting on glass and began to devote himself to it. Gradually, he worked his way up from the traditional depiction of the figures of individual saints to extensive compositions, scenes with many figures and paraphrases of the canvases of the great masters, which were unknown to traditional folk artists. According to his own designs, he created one, at most two images, in contrast to earlier producers who made several dozen to hundreds of copies according to a template.

Museums soon became interested in his work. The first was the Ethnographic Department of the National Museum in Prague. Today, his pictures are represented in the collections of many museums, decorate local chapels and churches, and also appear in private collections here and abroad.

Václav Hrabánek's favorite historical figure was the Czech king Václav IV, whose symbol was a kingfisher in a wreath. The kingfisher, which is also a symbol of the human soul, appears on almost all of Hrabánek's underpaintings and actually replaces the author's signature.

After many years spent alone in the old mill, the Hrabáneks decided "to return to civilization" and moved to a house in the Kašperské Hory. JUDr. Václav Hrabánek died after several months of illness shortly after his ninetieth birthday on April 20, 2005.

So much for the memory of JUDr. Countess. The mill in the valley of Pstružné potok has been popular with filmmakers in recent years, scenes of Menzel's film I Served the English King and footage of the film Journey through the Desolate Forest were shot here. The last time director Jiří Strach filmed the fairy tale Three Lives here. The mill is not accessible to the public.

In addition to the mentioned mill, at the turn to the mill from the road to Hartmanice, there is a death board, on which the deceased used to rest in the solitudes of Šumava. In this case, the commemorative plaque is a monument and is dedicated to resistance fighter Miloslav (Míl) Řího z Písek (February 14, 1914 – November 15, 1943), the regional organizer of the anti-German resistance organization. Miloslav Říha hid from the Nazis here in the yard of Franz Seidl's former house. On 14 November 1943, he was severely wounded by the Gestapo, and succumbed to his injuries in the General Public District Hospital in Sušice.

Nearby is also the Žežulka Nature Reserve, which is spread over a 3 km long section around the Volšovka stream. The reason for the protection is the preservation of mountain alder with gray alder in the floodplain of the Pstružné brook, spontaneously developing tree communities.