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Tabibito's Czech-travelogue

  • Name: Olomouc. The German name is Olmütz. The old spelling is 'Olmuts' or 'Olmuc'. Note that 'o' and 'u' are pronounced separately, so it's 'Olomo-uc'

  • Location: Olomouc lies around 270 km east of the capital →Prague in the heart of Moravia. The biggest city of Moravia →Brno in the south-west is only 60 km away. Olomouc spreads inside the broad Hornomoravský Uval (Upper Morave valley) along the small Morava (March) river.

  • Orientation: Around 103,000 people live in Olomouc, and so it's the fifth biggest town of the Czech republic. It's a little known fact that Olomouc offers the second biggest density of cultural treasures inside the Czech republic, only to be outnumbered by →Prague of course.
    The shape of the town is quite unusual and is widely influenced by the Morava river and some of its tributaries. The Olomouc hl. n. (main train station) is quite far away from the historic centre in the east of Olomouc. From there, straight as an arrow Masarykova street leads around 1.5 km to the north-west. Behind the third bridge, the streets changes the direction and also the name into 1. máje (1st May). There, the huge cathedral Dóm sv. Václava marks the beginning of the historic city centre. When you keep on walking the same street, you will pass nám. Republiky (Republic square) first and, further to the east, the central Horní nám. (upper square). The latter is very big, but it's not possible to see the entire square, since Olomouc' large Radnice (city hall) stands in the middle of the square.
    So much about the upper square - where's the Dolní nám. (lower square)? It's only 200 m south of the upper square and much smaller. The rather large old city centre is, except for the northern part, surrounded by large parks and therefore clearly separated from the rest of the town. Olomouc' outskirts are characterised by large industrial areas and grey living quarters.

  • Olomouc (Olmuetz)
    Horní nám. (upper square) of Olomouc
    Olomouc (Olmuetz)
    The tip of the marvellous trinity column

  • History: Olomouc is an old city and had been mentioned first in the year 1017. This was the time when Moravia was united with Bohemia. The royal Přemysl family built a palace in Olomouc and added the St. Peter church, which doesn't exist any longer. In 1078, a monastery was founded.
    In the middle of the 13th century, fortified Olomouc was granted civic rights. The local ruler allowed the citizens to erect a city hall in the 14th century. At that time, Olomouc had become a bustling trading place and the most important city of Moravia. The Hussite war had left its marks on the town, but Olomouc kept on growing and even founded its own university in 1513. Much worse than the Hussite war was the 30 years' war, which flattened the town. In the year 1642, shortly before the war ended, Swedish troops besieged and seized the town and stayed there for eight long years. Some 30,000 people lived in Olomouc before the war broke out. After the war, only 2,000 inhabitants remained. Consequently, Olomouc had lost its supremacy to →Brno, which was the capital of Moravia eversince. It took a very long time for Olomouc to recover.
    After the 18th century, Olomouce started to prosper again. Many buildings of the old city centre as they can be seen today had been built at that time. However, due to the development impeding city wall, the industrial revolution during the 19th century didn't flash over to Olomouc. Thus the city fortifications had been removed later on. During the 19th century, two thirds of the city population were German.
    More and more German citizens left the place - before the beginning of World War II, only one third of the citizens were German. As in any other Czech town, the last German 'Olmützer' were driven out of Olomouc.

  • Olomouc (Olmuetz)
    The reconstructed astronomical clock at the city hall
    Olomouc (Olmuetz)
    There's no lack of small and narrow streets in Olomouc

  • Sights: As everywhere, most sights concentrate around the large, central square, in Olomouc called Upper Square. Here, the Sloup Nejsvětější Trojice (Holy Trinity Column) can be admired. This tall baroque column (see also photos above) was completed in 1754 and is 35 meters high. This sort of column is quite unusual in Europe, and so it was declared World Heritage by the UNESCO in the year 2000. Especially the detailing is very impressive.
    The Radnice (town hall) in the middle of the square is another interesting building. It was first built in the 15th century as a renaissance structure with some gothic element. Unfortunately, it was heavily destroyed. The town hall as it can be seen today is a replica from 1955. The Orloj (astronomical clock) with a highly complicated mechanism decorates the north wall of the building. Very obviously, the clock had been reconstructed in socialist times. Additionally, there are two beautiful fountains on the upper square. One is the Caesarova kašna (Caesar's fountain), the other one is called Herkulova kašna (Hercules' fountain ). The latter was built in 1688 and therefore is one of Olomouc oldest structures.

    Olomouc (Olmuetz)
    Great sculptures at the chapel of St. Sarkander (?)
    Olomouc (Olmuetz)
    The cathedral and remainings of the palace

    "Biggest" attraction of town is the huge Katedrála Sv. Václava (St. Vaclav cathedral). The neo-gothic church features two sharp towers which are 100 m high. At the same place, a first church was erected in the 12th century. And destroyed. And rebuilt. And destroyed. The cathedral as it can be seen today was completed in 1890. Next to the cathedral, the Přemyslovský Palác (Premysl's palace) towers like a fortress above the Morava river.
    It's around one kilometer from the upper square to the cathedral. The stretch between both places, especially the narrow lanes south of the main street, is definitely worth a visit. Many old houses, among them numerous churches, offer interesting details.
    The atmosphere in Olomouc is quite different to the atmosphere of other towns in the Czech republic. This is probably due to the fact that Olomouc was rebuilt several times. However, it's highly interesting. People staying more than 2 weeks in the Czech republic shouldn't miss the place.

  • Getting there: Olomouc is conveniently located. The EC (EuroCity) from →Prague to →Košice (East Slovakia) stops in Olomouc. To Prague it's less than 3½ hours (164 Kč), to Košice it's around 6½ hours and costs 740 skr (€ 18.5). The train is very modern, a restaurant is among the carriages.
    There are several trains running to the North and to the South. The train to Ostrava in the north needs 1h 10 minutes, the train to →Brno around 1½ hours. There's also a direct EC to Katowice in South Poland (3 hours)
    . Tram No 1 to 5 take you from the trains station to the centre of town.

  • Accommodation: The Hotel Palác at tř. 1. Máje 27 is quite big and somehow old-fashioned, but in general it's okay. It's conveniently located between the train station and the upper square, just a few meters away from Vaclac-cathedral. Just look for the casino which is in the first floor. A bed in a double costs 630 Kč. There's an excellent restaurant around the corner on Komenského rd.
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