Beyond Prague...the Czech Republic offers unique culture, food and wine

Olmovc, Czech Republic town hall

 

 






 

 

 

 

 

 

Olomouc food market
Food market, Olomouc

 

 

 

 

 

 

Olomouc clock wall

 

 

 

Sauty kopecek

Church

 

 

 

 

Kromeriz museum
Archbishop's Chateau, Kromeriz

Mounted heads
Trophy room at the Archbishop's Chateau

Amadeus room
Scenes from the movie "Amadeus" were filmed in this hall.

 

 

 

 

musicians
Czech folk musicians in traditional costume

 

 

 

 

 

 

fields of rapeseed
Fields of rapeseed in the countryside

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monument at night

CZECH REPUBLIC:
Beyond Prague

ATTRACTIONS BEYOND PRAGUE
What lies beyond Prague? There are a number of important sites, especially religious sites that draw thousands every year.

To the east is Olomouc, which has been the seat of the Bishop since 1063. This city of 100,000 is a university town, features a great old town square, and is a good value for visitors. Here, see the 1378 town hall in the center of the square with its needle tower, and there's an astronomical clock like in Prague, except here the figures are Communist workers instead of saints.

museum
Archdiocesan Museum

Visit the Archdiocesan Museum, which is the only institution of its type in the country. The Museum focuses on art from between the 12th and 18th centuries. There are 16 halls featuring more than 300 works from the Romanesque to the Baroque periods, including the Sternberk Madonna and the Bishop Troyer's gold ceremonial carriage. A cafe allows visitors to catch a bite to eat here before proceeding to the next point of interest.

Olmovc

Holy Trinity column, made up of gold and gray columns, was built between 1716 and 1754. It's said to be the largest Baroque sculpture in central Europe. Olomouc also has half a dozen Baroque fountains, two of which are in this square. St. Moritz Cathedral, built starting in 1412, is the city's original parish church.

Three of the city's old fortifications invite visitors. Some of the fortifications still standing include the Theresian Gate, castle fortifications that form a ring around the Bezruc Gardens and the Theresian Armory, which today is a university library and art center.

Model of Olomouc
Scale model of Olomouc with significant buildings highlighted.

There are many other religious monuments and churches located here as well. For more information, go to www.olomouc-tourism.cz.

Not far from Olomouc, at Svaty Kopecek, the basilica stands atop a large hill (called Holy Hill) overlooking the small town below. Here the Church of the Visitation of the Virgin Mary and the Basilica Minor from the 17th century are filled with priceless paintings and sculptures. The church is visited by pilgrims, and the church maintains a spiritual importance to the region. Pope John Paul II elevated the church to the status of basilica minor when he visited.

church

A zoo is also located nearby and features nearly 400 species of animals. There is also a tourist “train” for those not wanting to walk the zoo grounds.

Kromeriz

KROMERIZ
South of Olomouc, the city of Kromeriz (locally named Hanacke Atheny), population nearly 30,000, was the home of the powerful bishops of Olomouc between the 12 and 19th centuries. At the Archbishop's Chateau, you'll want to see the 275-foot-high tower, and interior with its rococo ceilings and Maulpertsch and Stern murals. In what's called the Assembly Hall of the chateau, you'll see where scenes from the film Amadeus were shot—you'll see why when you visit this over-the-top room.

Red museum wall

Also here is the Chateau Gallery with a valuable collection of 16th and 17th century paintings, the large gardens and the Bishop's mint.
www.mesto-kromeriz.cz

 

Chruch of St. Cyril and Method
The Basilica of Sts. Cyril and Methodius, Velehrad.

At tiny Velehrad, where pilgrims still flock today, there is the beautiful Cistercian Monastery and church (admission is free). Under the church are the original remains of the basilica (admission charged). This is a quiet village and site, and a place to mediate and put life into perspective.

BRNO, SECOND CITY
After Prague, the next largest Czech city is Brno, boasting a population of about 400,000. Its mostly stately streets and parks give it a Parisian air. The city's cafes and bistros seem to echo that thought, with people flocking to enjoy their coffees and the local cuisine.

The 13th century Spilberk castle, on the hill of the same name, competes with the spires of the cathedral of Saint Peter and Paul. While here, visit the Cabbage Market, heart of the old town, and the Moravian Museum, as well as the fresh water Biskupsky aquarium. Visit the old brewery near Mendlovo namesti for a tasty beer, then visit the old town hall and the House of the Four Mamlases. Find the four Atlas figures and try to figure out what they're doing. To find out more about Brno, visit the City Museum at Spilberk Castle (admission).

Last, visit the church of the Assumption of the Virgin where you'll find the oldest Czech painting on wood of the black Madonna. www.brno.cz

To round out your tour of the Czech Republic, head back west to Jihlava, where you'll find one of the country's largest--and most unsightly--department stores located in the downtown square, which is also one of the country's largest. The department store has actually become an attraction itself.

Sites to see in Jihlava include a gilded Renaissance baptismal font at the Church of St. James and parts of the old town wall, including the clock tower and Holy Mother Gate. Last, take a look at the mining museum. Called an urban monument, it's the second largest underground passageway in the country. Once the mines played out, the tunnels were used for storage.
www.jihlava.cz

What I liked about the Czech Republic is what you might find appealing as well: nice people, delicious food, many historical attractions, lots of churches, and a certain Eastern mystery to the land. Prague was a super city to visit, and the countryside of the Czech Republic offers a lot of small villages and unique medieval sites. Just the thing for a inquisitive traveler who wants to learn more about Europe.


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