The story behind the Vranov dam: the concrete backbone to the Czech Republic’s hidden holiday spot | Concrete Ideas

The story behind the Vranov dam: the concrete backbone to the Czech Republic’s hidden holiday spot | Concrete Ideas

18 October 2021

Located by the Czech-Austrian border, the Vranov dam is a colossal structure forged in concrete. Constructed between 1930 and 1934, it was designed to control large fluctuations in volume in the Thaya river, as well as meet the growing electrical demand of the region at the time.

Plans to create the dam were, in fact, long in the making. The project was first put forward in the 19th century by wood sculptor Roman Loos, but his early death in 1890 brought construction to a halt. Engineer Ferdinand Schmidt later tried to restart work for several decades, but struggled to contend with the numerous territorial shifts buffeting the Czech Republic. The dam was finally completed in 1934.

Schmidt’s project was a monumental 60-metre high concrete wall. Its construction also created the nearby reservoir, which attracted tourists in their thousands. In the tense years that followed, however, many began to speculate that the dam could be bombed during the Second World War, and tourism disappeared. Locals feared Vranov would suffer the same fate as the nearby Möhne reservoir, which was bombed in 1943. As a result, they even founded the town of Neu-Lundenburg, in case the dam was ever attacked and the original Lundenburg settlement (modern-day Břeclav) would be wiped away by the resulting flood. Thankfully, the Vranov dam survived. After the war, the reservoir once again became a popular holiday spot, as the Cold War cut Czechoslovak citizens off from the sea. It remains a vacation spot to a lesser extent today, especially for watersport aficionados.

Beyond its appeal to holidaymakers, the dam continues to play a very relevant role in the area. It has helped prevent numerous floods, particularly in recent years, while its three turbines are used to generate electricity,

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