Brno

Brno (German: Brünn, Štatl in the local dialect) is the major city of Moravia (a historical region in the Czech Republic). It is the largest city in Moravia and the second largest city in the Czech Republic by population and area. It was founded around the year 1000; and since the 14th century, the city served as the capital of Moravia. Brno is the heart of Moravia and its cultural hub; it’s home to many institutions related to Moravian history and culture. At the same time, Brno represents the administrative center of the contemporary South Moravian region. It has a population of around 380,000 people, and it’s in a beautiful natural environment between South Moravian vineyards and the Moravian Karst.

Panorama of Brno
The Bishop´s Palace and the Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul

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The New Town Hall (don’t be fooled by its name, in fact it’s very old).

The city was founded about 1000 years ago, it received city status in the year 1243, and for centuries it served as the capital city of Moravia, until 1948 when communists abolished autonomy of Moravia. The city flourished mainly during the 19th century. Today’s Brno is a mixture of many different architecture styles, there are many beautiful places. But still, it’s a home to great culture, and countless beautiful buildings, the city has the third largest historic preservation zone in the country (the biggest one is in Prague, the second largest is in Olomouc). There are three castles, Špilberk (former royal castle, and former seat of rulers of Moravia), Veveří castle (near the Brno dam lake), and the Líšeň Castle.

Brno is not particularly well known by tourists so you can easily avoid crowds and overpriced services.

Brno is the cultural hub of Moravia, it’s the home to a number of notable Moravian institutions, e.g. Moravian Gallery, Moravian Museum, National Theatre Brno, and Brno City Theatre. It’s a city with a long tradition in motor racing (on the Masaryk Circuit), huge exhibitions and trade fairs (in the Central European Exhibition Center), and as vibrant university city. There are about 89,000 university students in Brno, a city with 380,000 inhabitants, it makes it the country’s largest student city by percentage of population. Since 1998, there is also an international firework competition held annually at the end of May and beginning of June – Ignis Brunensis, it attracts about 100,000-200,000 visitors every day it’s being held.

The most interesting places in Brno includes the Brno Underground, a labyrinth of underground cellars which includes the second biggest ossuary in Europe (after the Catacombs of Paris), the two (or three) castles in Brno, the cathedral on the Petrov hill (Pope Benedict XVI. visited the cathedral in 2009), the Basilica of the Assumption of Our Lady in the Old Brno District, the St. Jacob’s Church, the Moravian Museum (the biggest museum in Moravia and the second biggest in the country), Lužánky Park which is the oldest public park in the country, Denis Gardens, and various historical squares, churches, palaces, and other interesting buildings.

There are also many places which might be worthy of visit outside of the city centre, like an old Jewish cemetery in Brno-Židenice (by area, the biggest one in Moravia), or the Marian Valley in Brno-Líšeň, it’s which is a cascade of lakes between forested hills. From the north, Brno is surrounded by hills and very pleasant nature, probably the most notable place is the Moravian Karst.

Brno lost its status of the capital city but it still behaves like a “cosmopolitan” capital, there is a rich variety of various cultural events, clubs, pubs, etc., and several excellent museums and theatres. Also there are two interesting things about theatres in Brno, Reduta Theatre is the oldest theatre building in Central Europe, and Mahen Theatre (part of the National Theatre Brno) is the first theatre in the entire Europe which was illuminated by Thomas Edison’s electric light bulbs (in that time, it was only a four-year-old invention). Brno also serves as the capital of judicial authority of the Czech Republic (it’s the seat of the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court, the Supreme Administrative Court) and many other state authorities, the rest of it is located in Prague.

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