Kristiánov glassmaking settlement, a permanent exhibition of the Museum of Glass and Jewellery in Jablonec nad Nisou
The glassmaking settlement of Kristiánov is found in the Jizera Mountains, to the north-east of Bedřichov, at the foot of Černá hora (Black Mountain), at an altitude of around 800 m above sea level. Glass entrepreneur Johann Leopold Riedel built glassworks here in the middle of the 1770s, around which a settlement grew, a manor, a number of cottages for the glassmakers, a cemetery, and a school. The settlement was named Christianstal – Kristiánov – in honour of the owner of the Liberec demesne, Count Christian Philipp Clam-Gallas, who provided the land on which the works were built.
The furnace of the works in Kristiánov was first fired on Epiphany, 6th January, 1776 and the first glass made on 17th January. To begin with, it made utility glass, but began devoting most of its attention to making semi-finished glass products for fashion jewellery (bars, rods, tubes) at the end of the 18th century. The works were living from hand to mouth after 1800 as a result of the poor trade situation and strong competition. It overcame the crisis thanks to a boom in fashion jewellery and prospered again from the end of the 1830s. This led to a gradual change in appearance, culminating between 1853 and 1865 in complete modernisation (the hall of the works was extended, a second furnace was added, a drawing mill and eventually a third furnace). Then, in 1874, woodgas replaced wood as the fuel used in the furnace. However, the importance of the works began to wane as a result of its location and by 1881 they were working to a very limited capacity. That is why, when the works lay in ashes on 7th August 1887, they were never rebuilt. The Riedels left Kristiánov in 1881. Count Franz Clam-Gallas became the new owner of the abandoned manor in 1890, followed by the Czechoslovak Hiking Club (1929). Between 1887 and 1933 the building was used as a place where poor girls from the Liberec German Mountain Society could spend a therapeutic summer holiday and then as accommodation for hikers. The manor was taken over by the Czechoslovak Army in the summer of 1938 and burned to the ground on 4th October. Liščí bouda (Fox Hut), originally the house occupied by Fuchs the glassmaker and later a pub, standing at no. 52, is the only building of the original settlement to have remained.
The building was taken over by the Czechoslovak state in line with an agreement on the transfer of the management of national property of 8 and 9 April 1963 and handed over to the management of the Museum of Glass and Jewellery in Jablonec nad Nisou. The timber-framed building was then repaired and became a Memorial to Glassmaking in the Jizera Mountains, opening to the public in 1964. Further partial reconstruction came in 1987 and 1988.It was only after several rounds of such repairs, aimed at simply saving the building, that Fox Hut finally underwent total renovation.
Now you will find a permanent exhibition entitled “Kristiánov glassmaking settlement“ here. The central exhibit is a three-dimensional model of the whole of Kristiánov at the height of its glory. The accompanying panels tell visitors about the most important points in the history of the settlement, the details of individual buildings, no longer existing, and the people that lived in them. Visitors can also find out about the products typically made at the glassworks here, either through replicas of historic pieces or interactively. Children can piece together a wooden model of the settlement in the attic, or involve themselves in the “About Lišák the Glassmaker” programme, the aim being to find the treasure of Tamann the sorcerer. There is also an education programme for older primary school pupils entitled “The Settlers of Kristiánov“. On the ground floor, meanwhile, visitors can sit by the tiled stove and enjoy some refreshments, or buy a few souvenirs bearing an image of the settlement.
You can reach Kristiánov by taking the Jizera Mountain Glassmakers Trail, which runs from the Museum of Glass and Jewellery in Jablonec nad Nisou and which was created with the help of financial support from Georg J. Riedel, a descendant of the founders of the glassworks.
The museum is open to the public during the summer season (roughly from the middle of May to the end of September). Up-to-date information can be found here.