Czech cork-clad house draws crowds to wine-making town

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The Independent Travel

A bricklayer in the Czech Republic's picturesque South Moravian wine-making region is drawing legions of tourists curious to see the elaborate cork-decorated facade of his house.

"It has taken 180,000 wine corks in total - halved, quartered," Miroslav Svoboda from Mutenice, a small town about 230 kilometres (145 miles) southeast of the Czech capital Prague, told AFP.

At first glance the house tucked among similar buildings on a hillside above the town seems as inconspicuous as the rest, but a closer look reveals the skilfully-made triangular and circular cork and pebble ornaments that adorn three sides of the house.

"On the fourth side in the yard, I've been working on a cork heart for three years now," said the 53-year-old Svoboda.

"The heart's for me," confided his rather timid girlfriend Ludmila, standing above a neat flowerbed by the decorated side of the house which was once covered in ivy.

Svoboda, a passionate drinker of red wine, got the corks from a local vintner - "a sponsor who wants to remain unknown" - to give himself a unique present for his 50th birthday after two years of busy work.

He is proud to have relied solely on his imagination to create the ornaments laid in tile glue, and he claims he was the only one to have done the work.

But Ludmila divulged "we cut the corks with vineyard scissors together."

The house has become a tourist attraction for visitors from the region as well as abroad who sign their names in an improvised guest book, which "includes one environment minister," Svoboda said.

"The first reaction was incredulous, uncomprehending. Now it's back to normal," added the bricklayer, before pausing for a few seconds to try to recall his motivation for the painstaking work.

"I haven't figured that out yet," he chortled.

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