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Olomouc (Olomóc or Holomóc in the local dialect, Olmütz in German) has the second largest and second oldest historic preservation zone in the Czech Republic (after Prague).
Olomouc lies astride the Morava River and is surrounded by the fertile Haná plain. It was the capital of Moravia until 1641 and is the fifth-largest city in the country, with approximately 99,500 inhabitants.
Olomouc is doubtless the undiscovered gem of the Czech Republic. It is home to countless beautiful buildings, great culture (home of the Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra), and hundreds of unique restaurants, bars, and pubs. Olomouc is totally off the radar of most tourists, feeling quietly normal and relaxed even on a nice day in July.
As the home to Palacky University, Olomouc is the country’s largest student city by percentage of population. Palacky University (named after František Palacký, the most influential figure of the Czech National Revival in the 19th Century) is one of the largest and most prestigious universities in the country and only Charles’ University in Prague has a longer history. During the academic year, the population of the city is increased by roughly 20,000 students, giving the city a vibrant feeling of life and energy. This is important to remember if you want to enjoy the thriving nightlife of the city - many bars and clubs depend on the student population and close for the summer vacations.
Olomouc has been the seat of the Catholic Archbishop for almost 1,000 years, and thus has some of the most beautifully decorated churches in Central Europe - though they will not appear in many travel guides.
Olomouc is said to occupy the site of a Roman fort founded in the imperial period, the original name of which, Iuliomontium (Mount Julius), would be gradually corrupted to the present form. Although this account is not documented except as oral history, archaeological excavations close to the city have revealed the remains of a Roman military camp dating from the time of the Marcomannic Wars of the late 2nd century.
During the 6th century, Slavs migrated into the area. As early as the 7th century, a centre of political power developed in the present-day quarter of Povel (in lowland, south of the city centre). Around 810 the local Slavonic ruler was defeated by troops of Great Moravian rulers and the settlement in Olomouc-Povel was destroyed.
A new centre, where the Great Moravian governor resided, developed at the gord at Předhradí, a quarter of the inner city (the eastern, smaller part of the medieval centre). This settlement survived the defeat of the Great Moravia (c. 907) and gradually became the capital of the province of Moravia.
The bishopric of Olomouc was founded in 1063. It was possibly re-founded because there are some unclear references to bishops of Moravia in the 10th century — if they were not only missionary bishops, but representatives of some remains of regular church organization, then it is very likely that these bishops had seat right here. Centuries later in 1777, it was raised to the rank of an archbishopric. The bishopric was moved from the church of St. Peter (since destroyed) to the church of Saint Wenceslas in 1141 (the date is still disputed, other suggestions are 1131, 1134) under bishop Jindřich Zdík. The bishop's palace was built in the Romanesque architectural style. The bishopric acquired large tracts of land, especially in northern Moravia, and was one of the richest in the area.
Olomouc became one of the most important settlements in Moravia and a seat of the Přemyslid government and one of the appanage princes. In 1306 KingWenceslas III stopped here on his way to Poland. He was going to fight Władysław I the Elbow-high to claim his rights to the Polish crown and was assassinated. With his death, the whole Přemyslid dynasty died out.
The city was officially founded in the mid-13th century and became one of the most important trade and power centres in the region. In the Middle Ages, it was the biggest town in Moravia and competed with Brno for the position of capital. Olomouc finally lost after the Swedes took the city and held it for eight years (1642–1650).
In 1454 the city expelled its Jewish population as part of a wave of anti-Semitism, also seen in Spain and Portugal. The second half of the 15th century is considered the start of Olomouc's golden age. It hosted several royal meetings, and Matthias Corvinus was elected here as King of Bohemia(in fact anti-king) by the estates in 1469. In 1479 two kings of Bohemia (Vladislaus II and Matthias Corvinus) met here and concluded an agreement (Peace of Olomouc of 1479) for splitting the country.
Participating in the Protestant Reformation, Moravia became mostly Protestant. During the Thirty Years' War, in 1640 Olomouc was occupied by the Swedes for eight years. They left the city in ruins, and it became second to Brno.
In 1740 the town was captured and briefly held by the Prussians. Olomouc was fortified by Maria Theresa during the wars with Frederick the Great, who besieged the city unsuccessfully for seven weeks in 1758. In 1848 Olomouc was the scene of the emperor Ferdinand's abdication. Two years later, Austrian and German statesmen held a conference here called the Punctation of Olmütz. At the conference, they agreed to restore the German Confederation and Prussia accepted leadership by the Austrians.
In 1746 the first learned society in the lands under control of the Austrian Habsburgs, the Societas eruditorum incognitorum in terris Austriacis, was founded in Olomouc to spread Enlightenment ideas. Its monthly Monatliche Auszüge was the first scientific journal published in the Habsburg empire.
Largely because of its ecclesiastical links to Austria, Salzburg in particular, the city was influenced by German culture since the Middle Ages. Demographics before censuses can only be interpreted from other documents. The town's ecclesiastical constitution, the meetings of the Diet and the locally printed hymnal, were recorded in the Czech language in the mid-16th and 17th centuries. The first treatise on music in Czech was published in Olomouc in the mid-16th century. The political and social changes that followed the Thirty Years' War increased the influence of courtly Habsburg and Austrian/German language culture. The "Germanification" of the town likely resulted from the cosmopolitan nature of the city; as the cultural, administrative and religious centre of the region, it drew officials, musicians and traders from all over Europe.
Despite these influences, the Czech language dominated, particularly in ecclesiastical publications throughout the 17th and 18th centuries. When the Austrian-born composer and musician Philip J. Rittler accepted a post at the Wenceslas Cathedral in the latter 17th century, he felt it necessary to learn Czech. With the continued dominance of the Habsburgs and migration of ethnic Germans into the area, the use of Czech declined. By the 19th century, the number of ethnic Germans in the city were recorded as three times higher than the number of Czechs.
After the 1848 revolution, the government rescinded its Jewish expulsion order of 1454. Jews returned to the city and, in 1897, built a synagogue. The Jewish population reached 1,676 in 1900.
Olomouc retained its defensive city walls almost until the end of the 19th century. This suited the city council, because demolishing the walls would have allowed for expansion of the city and attracted more Czechs from neighbouring villages. The city council preferred Olomouc to be smaller and predominately German. Greater expansion came after World War I and the establishment of Czechoslovakia. Olomouc annexed two neighbouring towns and 11 surrounding villages, gaining new space for additional growth and development.
Serious tensions arose between ethnic Czechs and Germans during both world wars. During WWII, most of the town's ethnic German residents sided with the Nazis; the German-run town council renamed the main square (till named after president T. G. Masaryk) after Adolf Hitler. World War II brought a rise in anti-semitism and attacks on the Jews that reflected what was happening in Germany. On Kristallnacht (10 November 1938), townspeople destroyed the synagogue. In March 1939, city police arrested 800 Jewish men, and had some deported to the Dachau concentration camp. During 1942–1943, ethnic Germans sent the remaining Jews to Theresienstadt and other German concentration camps in occupied Poland. Fewer than 300 of the town's Jews survived the Holocaust.
After Olomouc was liberated, Czech residents took back the original name of the town square. When the retreating German army passed through the city in the final weeks of the war, they shot at its 15th-century astronomical clock, leaving only a few pieces intact (these are held in the local museum). In the 1950s, the clock was reconstructed under the influence of Soviet government; it features a procession of proletarians rather than saints. After the war, the government participated in the expulsion of ethnic Germans from the country, following the Allied leaders' Potsdam Agreement, which redefined the Central European borders, although many of these people's families had lived for two centuries in the region.
Despite its considerable charms, Olomouc has fortunately not been discovered by tourists in the same way that Prague, Český Krumlov and Karlovy Vary have largely become overrun. Its inner city is the second-largest historical monuments preserve in the country, after Prague.
- Opera café on the main square (Horní náměstí) and probably other restaurants offer wifi access. Ask the waiter for the passphrase.
- Internet u Dominika is an internet café just north of city center, in Sokolská 12 street (close to the Poets' Corner hostel). Printing (both black and white and photos) and card readers are available.
The mobile network (GSM/GPRS) covers the whole city. If you are coming from a non-GSM standard country (e.g. North America) check your mobile phone for GSM compatibility.
Prices in Olomuc
MARKET / SUPERMARKET
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||€0.50|
|Bottle of Wine||1 bottle||€3.35|
|Dinner (Low-range)||for 2||€12.00|
|Dinner (Mid-range)||for 2||€17.00|
|Dinner (High-range)||for 2||€24.00|
|Mac Meal or similar||1 meal||€5.00|
|Beer (Imported)||0.33 l||€1.30|
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||€1.00|
|Coctail drink||1 drink||€3.50|
|Men’s Haircut||1 haircut||€|
|Mobile (prepaid)||1 min.||€0.12|
|Pack of Marlboro||1 pack||€3.20|
|Toilet paper||4 rolls||€1.00|
CLOTHES / SHOES
|Jeans (Levis 501 or similar)||1||€63.00|
|Dress summer (Zara, H&M)||1||€22.00|
|Sport shoes (Nike, Adidas)||1||€55.00|
|Local Transport||1 ticket||€0.51|
50 € per day
Estimated cost per 1 day including:
- meals in cheap restaurant
- public transport
- cheap hotel
105 € per day
Estimated cost per 1 day including:
- mid-range meals and drinks
Transportation - Get In
- Prague: 2½h, hourly IC/EC trains; 2h, SC Pendolino/RegioJet/Leo Express(with compulsory reservation) each leave every two hours
Fast trains (category R) are useless at this route, they're slower and cost the same as IC/EC.
Regular fare is 324Kč, second person in a group (of 2 or more) pays 195 Kč, extra people pay 162 Kč, SporoTiket is 190 Kč.
- Brno: 1½h, every two hours
Beware that apart from these, there are trains Brno–Olomouc via Břeclav and the journey would be 2 hours longer.
- Ostrava: 1h, IC/EC trains every two hours
Beware of some fast trains (category R) from Ostrava to Olomouc, they go longer way through Jeseníky mountains for more than 3 hours.
- Warszawa: 5½h, EC Praha
- Kraków: The only direct train is a night train Silesia arriving in Olomouc at 4:45AM. Other connections require at least two changes.
- Vienna: several train connections; with changes either in Prerov or in Ceska Trebova, it will take you about 3 hours
Long distance trains stop at Olomouc hlavní nádraží (Olomouc Main station).
Student Agency operates buses between Prague and Olomouc, but they are much slower than trains, because their route leads all the way down to Brno before turning up towards Prague.
Transportation - Get Around
The Olomouc city centre is best explored on foot. Its historic center is charming and it offers many opportunities for pleasant walks.
Public transportation is cheap and easy to use. Ticket machines stand at every major bus and tram stop and tickets are also available from newspaper kiosks. A single trip ticket costs 14 Kč. See a city line map and online timetable
Integrated Transport System of Olomouc Region (IDSOK) provides an extensive network of local trains (category Os and Sp) and buses in the whole region. Olomouc region is divided into zones, and the ticket price depends on number of passed zones. Zone 71 (Olomouc city) has a special tariff, described above.
Taxis gather in the carpark at the front of the train station, and the ride from there to the centre should be between 100-150 Kč. The free-call number is +420 800 223 030.
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The traditional cuisine of Olomouc and the surrounding Haná region is an excellent example of Czech cuisine. In addition to more common Czech dishes, it includes some unique local specialties. One of the best known culinary products of the area is the local cheese Olomoucké tvarůžky (also calledOlomoucké syrečky). This is a traditional (since 15th century) Czech ripened soft cheese with very low fat content, pungent taste and strong odor. The cheese is named after the city of Olomouc, but is produced in Loštice, a small city about 30 km away. Although the cheese is commonly available in stores around the country (and often consumed raw, usually with some beer), you have to visit Haná region to find dishes based on this cheese on restaurant menus. For example, the cheese can be used as a filling in a local variety of Cordon Bleu, or it can be served fried. The dishes containing this cheese can usually be recognized by the word Loštické in their names. Because of the strong odor, do not be surprised when you find some mint sweets (Hašlerka) on your plate.
Garlic soup (česnečka) is available all around the country. The garlic soup of the Haná region (Hanácká česnečka) is one of the best varieties and is usually very strong. If olomoucké tvarůžky are added, the soup is called Loštická česnečka. Because of the combined might of garlic and the strong ripened cheese, it is not recommended if you plan to kiss someone that evening :) On the other hand, garlic is very healthy and you should get some česnečka if you have cold or sore-throat.
Hanácký koláč is the typical sweet cake of the region.
There are dozens of excellent restaurants in the city, and most have English menus. Local favorites include Cafe Caesar, which is in the renaissance Town Hall Building on the main square. Hanacka Hospoda and U Kasny are more traditional Moravian Restaurants, and are located in the nearby lower square. On Marianska Ul. is the Svatovaclavsky Pivovar which is a non-smoking microbrewery with indoor and outdoor seating and a comprehensive menu of local specialties.
- Moravska Restaurace, Horní náměstí 23, , e-mail:[email protected]. 11:30-23:00. Serving traditional food of the region, as well as international cuisine. An example from the menu is "Quarter of roast duck, red cabbage with apple, bread and potato dumplings with onion" , for 240 Kč. Non-smoking.
- U Anděla, Hrnčířská 10, , e-mail: [email protected].Su-Th 11:00-22:00, Fr-Sa 11:00-23:00. One of the best restaurants in Olomouc. The menu and wine list are extensive, and the rear rooms of the restaurant look out from the top of the city walls across the park. The interior is decorated with lots of interesting antiques and hundreds of potted plants. An example from the menu is the "Dinosaur Steak", which is a chicken fillet on top of a pork cutlet on top of a beef steak for 169 Kč.
- Green Bar, Ztracená 3, , e-mail: [email protected].Mo-Fr 10:00-17:00. A vegetarian lunch canteen, just a few paces from the main square along Ztracena Ul. It's self serve and the food all costs the same- 21 Kč/100g. Just load your plate and pass it to the girl at the checkout, she'll weigh it and tell you how much you owe. The food's good, the price is a bargain, and it's Olomouc's best vegetarian option.
- Restaurant Pizza U Jana, Karla Farského 7, . 11:00-22:45 daily. This is a little way out of the centre, past the Bus Station, but it serves some of the best food in the city, especially the steaks. Lunch menu 95 Kč.
Coffe & Drink
Hanácká kyselka is a well known natural mineral water of the region. It is healthy and has a refreshing taste. It is a good choice if you do not want to drink alcohol.
Wine is the lifeblood of Moravia. Look into any ‘vinarna’ (wine bar) or ‘Vinný sklep’ (wine cellar) and you’ll see an array of characters partaking of the nectar of the vines. Most vineyards are in South Moravia but that has no affect on the drinking abilities of northern Moravians. You can buy good Moravian wine for a picnic from a vinny sklep in plastic bottles that you either bring yourself or you can find there.
If anyone has told you that Moravian wine is inferior to French or German wine, don’t believe them. The taste and aroma of Moravian wines vary from their Western European cousins because they are made from totally different varieties of grapes. Svatovavrinecké is a strong, drier red wine, Modrý Portugal is a medium dry and Frankovka is a sweeter red wine. Good white wines are Muller Thurgau and Veletinské.
The best beer in Olomouc is available from one of the Microbreweries making their own beer on the premises.
- St Wenceslas Brewery (Svatovaclavsky pivovar), Mariánská 4, , e-mail: [email protected]. Mo, Tu 09:00-23:00, We-Fr 09:00-24:00, Sa 11:00–24:00, Su 11:00–22:00. A large microbrewery serving five brews including wheat and fruit flavoured beers. The new location is completely non-smoking and has an outdoor area. In the cellar is an old nuclear fallout shelter that the proprietors plan to renovate to offer spas in oak vats of dark beer scented with a special mix of herbs. The food is very good and lunch menu start from 85 Kč.
- Moritz, Nešverova 2, , e-mail: [email protected]. A completely non-smoking microbrewery, which is impeccably furnished in an early 20th century style. Large internal windows allow patrons a view of the brewing room. Lunch menu from 85 Kč.
- Café Restaurant Caesar, Horní náměstí, , e-mail:[email protected]. Mo-We 10:00–22:00, Th–Sa 10:00–23:00, Su 11:00–20:00. The place is named after the legendary founder of the city, serves pizza and pasta and is on the ground floor of the Town Hall. In summer they have a large outdoor area right on the main square, which is the perfect place to pass a gentle summer's evening. Lunch menu 90 Kč.
- Kavárna Opera (Caffe Opera), Horní náměstí 21, , e-mail: [email protected]. Mo-Sa 08:00–23:00, Su 10:00–21:00. Opera is another good restaurant serving Italian food. It is also located on the main square.Lunch menu 100 Kč.
Sights & Landmarks
Olomouc is an exploring sightseer's paradise. A good place to begin is the main square (Horní náměstí or 'Upper Square'), with its huge Town Hall and the Holy Trinity Column (the largest column in Europe), which was enscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2000. It is the second largest historical square in the Czech Republic. Don't miss the astronomical clock on the Town Hall. It is said to once have rivalled the beauty of Prague's, but was seriously damaged in the World War II and then rebuilt and repainted at the beginning of the Communist regime to reflect worker's values.
The Upper Square (Horní náměstí) is the main square of Olomouc, a beautiful place full of history where you can find some of the most important monuments:
- The baroque Holy Trinity Column was built in the early 1700s and consecrated by the Empress Marie Theresa in 1754. With a height of 35 metres, it has dominated the Upper Square (Horní náměstí) ever since and was added to the UNESCO list of World Cultural Heritage in the year 2000. The column features sculptures of the Holy Trinity (predictably), the assumption of the Virgin Mary, all twelve apostles, three virtues and the most important saints of the Baroque period. The base of the column contains a small chapel with amazing acoustics and the raised pedestal is a very nice place to sit and eat lunch. It is one of the traditional rendezvous points in the city.
- The renaissance Olomouc Town Hall occupies the centre of the main square (Horní náměstí). Its halls and chapel are accessible on guided tours and it's possible to climb the tower each day at 11AM and 3PM. The ground floor of the town hall houses a gallery, restaurant and the tourist information office. Ask in the office if you are interested in the guided tour and climbing the tower. On the north face is one of only two astronomical clocks in the country. On the west side, there is the Hygieia fountain from 1945, one of the many fountains in the city.
- The Astronomical clock was constructed in the 15th century, but takes its present appearance from the 1950s, during a refurbishment to repair damage inflicted in World War II. Czechoslovakia was under Communist rule by then and the clock reflects the values of the day, the saints and angels being replaced by scientists, sportspeople and labourers. At noon the clock has a presentation that is unique to its structure and construction. There is one other astronomical clock in the Czech lands (in the other ancient capital, Prague), but as a surviving example of Socialist-Realism, the Olomouc Astronomical clock is unique world-wide. It is another popular rendezvous point in the city.
- The baroque Caesar's Fountain is the largest fountain in Olomouc. It depicts the legendary founder of the city, Gaius Julius Caesar, riding a horse. It is one of the six great baroque Roman-themed fountains you can find in the city.
- The baroque Hercules' Fountain depicts Hercules fighting Hydra. Another from the series of the six great baroque Roman-themed fountains you can find in the city.
- The modern Arion's Fountain depicts the legend of a poet thrown overboard and saved by a dolphin. It was specially designed to allow easy access to the water and is a favourite among children.
- The bronze model of the city.
Churches and monasteries
- St. Wenceslas Cathedral (Katedrála sv. Václava), Václavské náměstí. Open daily, variable times, usually 07:00–17:00. During the tourist season (end of April to end of September) it is possible to take a guided tour, also in English. A thousand-year-old cathedral, dominates the city’s skyline with the tallest spire in Moravia (second tallest in the Czech Republic). Pope John Paul II and Mother Tereza have both visited the cathedral and the holy relics of Saint Jan Sarkander are interred within. 500 Kč for a guided tour in English/group.
- St. Moritz church (Kostel sv. Mořice), 8. května. Daily Mar 09:00–16:30, Apr–Jun 09:00–18:00, Jul–Aug 09:00–19:00, Sep–Oct 09:00–18:00, Nov 09:00–16:30. A beautifully preserved gothic church dating from 1398. One of its highlights is the massive Engler organ, one of the largest in Europe. The organ is the focus of the international music festival in September/October and the Christmas Music festival every year. The tower of the church offers a magnificent 360 degree view over the city and countryside and is accessed via a graceful double-spiral staircase. 20 Kč / 10 Kč (entrance to the tower).
- St. Michael's church (Kostel sv. Michala), Žerotínovo náměstí 1. 07:00–18:00 daily. The church appears quite plain from the outside. Upon entering, however, most first time visitors find their breath stolen away. Inside is one of the most beautiful baroque churches in Central Europe. One notable feature is a painting of an apparently pregnant Virgin Mary, quite rare in a catholic church. It’s also possible to enter the old monastery attached to the side of the church and climb its bell tower.
- Basilica Minor on the Holy Hill (Svatý Kopeček). The church is open 08:30-17:00 daily, M afternoon closed. This is one of the most popular pilgrimage churches in Central Europe, and was honoured by Pope John Paul II. The best way to reach it is to take the bus 11 to Svatý Kopeček from stand 'E' in front of the railway station. The buses leave every 10-15 min and the trip takes 18 min.
- Hradisko Monastery, Sušilovo náměstí (Buses No. 15, 20, 21 – bus stop Klášterní Hradisko), , e-mail: [email protected]. Apr-Sep every first Sat of the month: 08:00, 09:00, 10:00 and 11:00; Every working Thu: 14:00 and 15:00. Hradisko is the oldest monastery in Moravia and its location on the banks of the Morava river, just upstream from the orthodox church, makes it a pleasant 20-minute walk from the cathedral end of town. The monastery building has belonged to the military since the monastic order was banned by Emperor Joseph II in 1784. It is now used as a hospital and is open to the public within guided tours. 80 Kč / 40 Kč.
- The Archbishops’ palace (Arcibiskupský palác), Wurmova 9, , e-mail: (reservations)[email protected]. Apr, Oct: M–F upon previous booking, weekends and holidays 10:00-17:00; May–Sep: Tu-Su 10:00-17:00; Nov–March: M–F upon previous booking. The official seat of Olomouc bishops and archbishops. It was in this building on 2 December 1848, that Franz Joseph acceded to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Hapsburg Empire. 60 Kč / 30 Kč.
- The Premyslid palace (also known as Romanesque Bishop’s Palace, Přemyslovský palác, Zdíkův palác), Václavské nám. 4, e-mail:[email protected]. Tu-Su 10:00-18:00. The building recently undergone a thorough restoration and now houses the extensive Archdiocese museum. The building is the oldest in Olomouc and much of the original stonework has been exposed. On the upper floors, the circular chapel of St Barbara is a highlight. Entry is free every Sunday and the first Wednesday in the month on on a couple of public holidays. The museum is closed on Mondays. 70 Kč / 35 Kč.
- Baroque Fountains. The city’s impeccable series of six stone baroque fountains are all within easy walking distance of the Main Square. They are based on Roman themes, and depict Neptune, Jupiter (both onDolní náměstí), Mercury (near thePrior store), Triton (on Náměstí republiky), Hercules, and the legendary founder of Olomouc, Julius Caesar (both on Horní náměstí, the main square). There are also two more baroque fountains that were damaged and lost their central statues, Saturn fountain in the Hradisko monastery and Dolphin fountain near the Virgin Mary church. The missing statue of a child with a dolphin on the latter fountain was replaced a with lion head.
- Modern fountains. There are also several remarkable modern fountains in Olomouc. The Arion fountain in the main square (Horní náměstí) depicts the legend of a poet thrown overboard and saved by a dolphin. It was specially designed to allow easy access to the water and is a favourite among children. Hygieia fountain can be found nearby in the west wall of the Town Hall. Bronze Living Water fountaincan be found next to the Chapel of St. Sarkander. There are also two fountains located near the Main Railway Station, one of which ‘dances’ along to recorded classical music.
Parks and gardens
- Olomouc Zoological Garden, Darwinova 29, , e-mail: [email protected]. Open daily: Oct-Feb 09:00—16:00, Mar, Sep 09:00—17:00, Apr-Aug 09:00—18:00 (ticket counter opening hours; the visitors must leave 2 hours after the ticket counter is closed at latest). The ZOO on the Holy Hill is also worth a visit. It is located near the basilica. There are pointers from the basilica to the ZOO or ask the locals for directions. You can also take the bus line 11 to the terminal station. The ZOO is in woods abundant in edible mushrooms suitable for pleasant walks. 80 Kč / 50 Kč.
- Bezručovy Sady (Bezruč gardens) is a lovely park that runs between the massive Fortress walls and the Mill channel, providing a great place to stroll and relax, also nice views of the University and St. Michael's Church.
- Botanic Gardens, , e-mail: [email protected].Apr-Oct Tu-Su 09:30–18:00. The Botanical gardens are in two parts; the outdoor exhibits and rose gardens are across the stream from Bezruč gardens. 50 Kč / 30 Kč.
The greenhouses are behind the Flora exhibition complex; near where the footbridge goes over the main road to connect the two parks together. The main tropical greenhouse also holds large aquariums and terrariums with a range of alligators, snakes, piranhas, and large furry spiders.
- The University is spread throughout the city, but the most interesting parts to visitors are between the main square and St. Wenceslas’ Cathedral. The fine arts faculty has a sunny terrace courtyard with a café and views over the city walls from above. Also notable is the law campus on 17th. November Ave, which was formerly the headquarters of the Communist party.
- City Walls A series of defensive fortifications and moats once completely enclosed Olomouc. The best preserved parts are visible from the Bezruč gardens, below St. Michaels church. The water barracks that today house the Russian and Irish pubs and the 24hr espresso bar were also part of the system. There were also sixteen outlying forts, some of which still exist. Most still belong to the military and are off limits to the public, but one is home to ‘Exit discotheque’, and another is within the grounds of the botanic gardens. Enter just across the mill channel from Bezruč gardens, via the footbridge guarded by the four statues of Hercules.
Museums & Galleries
- Museum of Modern Art (Muzeum moderního umění), Denisova 47,, e-mail: [email protected]. Tu-Su 10:00-18:00. Museum of Modern Art is the pale grey Art Nouveau building across from the baroque Lady Mary of the Snows church. The permanent collection is OK, but the temporary exhibitions are often very interesting and well worth the entrance fee (free on Sundays). There’s a small lookout tower at the top which is included in the entry price of the museum. 70 Kč/ 35 Kč.
- Regional Museum in Olomouc (Vlastivědné Muzeum), náměstí Republiky 5, , e-mail: [email protected]. Apr-Sep Tue-Sun 09:00-18:00, Oct-Mar Tue-Sun 10:00-17:00. The museum is housed in the former Clarisian convent on Náměstí Republiky (Republic Square). There are the usual collection of rocks and artifacts, and an interesting exhibit of the flora and fauna of the region, but probably the best things to see are in the old Olomouc section; woodcuts and prints from previous centuries, weapons, armour, traditional dress and many of the original religious figures from older versions of the astronomical clock. The museum is closed every Monday. 60 Kč / 30 Kč.
- Commercial Art Galleries Czech and Moravian artists produce a lot of very unusual ceramic/pottery pieces and small works of art, which make great original souvenirs or gifts, and there are several shops/galleries in Olomouc filled with them. Some of the best are situated on Ztracena Ulice which heads off the square from the Caesar fountain. Next to Cafe Caesar in the town hall building is Gallery Caesar. It almost always exhibits contemporary art from local Olomouc or Czech artists. Gallery Mona Lisa (also a café), on the corner of the square near the Arion fountain (turtle fountain) is a similar exhibition space focused on contemporary art. In the beautiful Villa Primavesi right next to St Michael’s Church there is another small gallery worth visiting if only for the chance to wander through the entrance hall of this historic house. On the top floor of the local art museum there is a small exhibit about Villa Primavesi, its history and role in the Art Nouveau movement.
Things to do
- Theater (Moravské divadlo Olomouc), Horní nám. 22, , e-mail:[email protected]. The theatre in the square is home to the Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as numerous musicals, operas, and plays. The price for tickets is difficult to beat. Be warned that the dialogue will usually be either in Czech or the original language. Starting at 130 Kč.
- Ice Hockey stadium, Hynaisova 9a. The Ice Hockey stadium is on Hynaisova, behind the supermarket. Olomouc is more of a football than a hockey town, but ice hockey is a great spectator sport, a real piece of local life and probably the best two hours’ entertainment you will find for 50 Kč.
- The Letní Kino (summer cinema) is only open in the warmer months and shows films four nights a week, beginning as soon as it gets dark enough. The entrance is from Pekarska Ul. You can’t see the cinema from the street but it’s the same entrance as the mini-golf and you will walk past a large outdoor beer garden before finding the entrance to the cinema. The cinema is an amphitheatre that can hold 3000 people. You can see it quite well on the town model in the main square.
Festivals and events
- Flora Olomouc In Spring, you should not miss the Flora Fairgrounds and nearby parks full of flowers. The information about exhibitions is available at the Flora Fairgrounds website (in Czech only).
- Academia Film is an international festival of documentary films in April. Most venues are close to the fine arts faculty of the university, with some being shown outdoors on a screen in the main square.
- Dvořak's Olomouc is a series of concerts of classical music taking place during May and June. The Moravian Philharmonic and visiting orchestras perform on the square and in the churches.
- The Festival of Songs in June gathers choirs from as far as Singapore and the United States to perform and compete. The choirs often burst spontaneously into song as they walk together around the streets and squares and it's a delighful time to be in Olomouc.
- Olomouc City Festival in June is ten days of concerts, theatre, sculpture and ceramics demonstrations, a whipped cream battle, and at least two lamplight processions.
- International Organ Music Festival is organised by the Moravian Philhamonic Orchestra and takes place in various venues around the city, including on the largest pipe-organ in central Europe-in St Moritz church in September.
- Festival of Film Animation A four-day festival of film animation and modern art is held annualy in December in several locations in Olomouc.
- Traditional Christmas Markets take over the main square from the beginning of December. There are free concerts every day, roasted chestnuts, mulled wine and other warming foods and traditional crafts ranging from blacksmith-work to the finest beeswax and honey products.