Znojmo is a lovely town just a few kilometers from the borders with Austria. Due to its location it’s a perfect place to cultivate fruit, vegetables and wine grapes and this branch of agriculture is very characteristic of this area. However, Znojmo has a lot to offer also to those who seek culture, nature and a history lesson. Take a walk in its lash vineyards and streets which remember the Přemyslid dynasty and the Thirty Years’ War.
Why visit Znojmo?
South Moravian towns have a special charm to them. It’s the combination of warm climate, vineyards all around and well-preserved historical architecture. Znojmo, moreover, has a rich cultural life and it’s one of the larger towns so it offers the tourists more than a few possibilities to spend the holiday.
Tour in Znojmo
Let us take you on a virtual tour in Znojmo, the next best thing to a tour in person. You can easily walk around all the main sights in a day, however, we would recommend at least a weekend to fully enjoy the charm of this place.
See the map below for reference:
blue – historical sights
red – religious sights
purple – public authorities
yellow – sport establishments
If you arrive to Znojmo by bus or train you’ll get of at the bus or train station. From there it’s northwest to the center (up and left on the map).
Our first stop on the way to the town center is the theatre (Městské divadlo).
Though it’s not as big as the most important theatres of Prague or Brno it has a certain charm to it. Opened in 1900 it had its share of bad luck in april 1945 when it was seriously damaged by bombings right before the end of World War II. It was later rebuilt and after the establishment of an independent Czechoslovak state it started featuring plays in Czech.
We continue west on the náměstí Republiky road and if we turn left to the south we can see the St. Elisabeth church (Kostel svaté Alžběty) from 1470. We turn north to Kollárova street, walk past the courthouse and continue north a while until we reach Vlkova věž which was originally a fort tower built to protect the so called Lower Gate of the town which no longer exists.
Nowadays, the tower serves as headquarters of the Znojmo Info Center. You can climb up the 32 metres and 123 stairs to have a view of the town and even better – get a ticket for the tour of the town fort wall (April – October). Interesting trivia: do you notice the tiny door right under the wooden gallery? It’s called prevet – the so called “falling toilet”.
A little further on Kollárova street and on the lower end of the Masarys Square there’s the capuchin St. John the Baptist Church and Monastery (on the map as Kapucínský kostel a klášter). The Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand II himself was present its foundation in 1628. The area of the monastery features also a fruit garden. The church was occupied by the army from 1950 on, then served as tourist accommodation and currently it’s not in use.
We’ve arrived at the Masaryk Square named after the first Czechoslovak president. Its upper end features a historical sight that is very common in many historical parts of cities and towns – the pest column.
It was built between the years 1679 and 1682 as a symbol of gratitude for staving off the great pest epidemic. The pest column of Znojmo belongs to the oldest pest columns in the whole of Czech Republic.
Another important historical sight is the Town Hall Tower (Radniční věž) next to the Masaryk Square on Obroková street.
This town hall was built in the 15th century and as the Latin inscription on the northern side of the tower states, the construction of the tower started on the 17th of July 1447. It was finished two years later and it rises 66,5 meters above ground. Most of the beam girders of the roof are original and more than 500 years old! Interesting facts: In the 19th century a phone line was installed in the tower. The watch duty was performed here until 1924 and nowadays it’s a popular vantage point – when the weather’s good you can see the peaks of the Austrian Alps.
Turning right from the tower we walk up Kramářská street and from here the first turn left would be the street where we’ll look for the entrance to the Znojmo underground later. For now we continue on the same street until we reach the perpendicular road Dolní Česká.
From there we walk just a few meters north to the crossroad with Kovářská street. The dominant of this street is the Church of the Finding of Holy Cross (Kostel Nalezení svatého Kříže). The Dominican church was established in 1230 and it quickly became an important pilgrimage destination as it owned a piece of the Holy Cross.
We take the Kovářská street back to the center and continue to the street call Přemyslovců (Přemyslid street, named after the great dynasty). At the end of this street there’s the Znojmo beer brewery.
The town received the right to brew beer in 1278 from Rudolf I of Germany and currently it’s been brewing mostly non-filtered beer – steady brands as well as several specials a year. The planned year capacity of the brewery is 10.000 hl.
And if you’re a fan of museums, there’s the South-Moravian museum in Znojmo (Jihomoravské muzeum ve Znojmě) right across the street. It features temporary as well as long-term expositions on history, nature, arms and crafts.
Our next stop is the Rotunda of St. Catherine, one of the most emblematic sights of Znojmo. To get to it we walk back the street from the beer brewery and up Hradní street which leads us right to the rotunda.
The early Middle Age rotunda is located right next to the castle and its murals come from 1134! The murals are unique among the Romanesque part of Europe because their sole theme is the ideology of the state.
And finally we come to the beautiful Znojmo castle. I should actually say château, because it was built in the 11th century under the rule of the Přemyslid dynasty and rebuilt to a château in the 18th century to fit the demands on comfort at that time.
The castle was rebuilt in the 12th – 13th century and often passed from lord to lord. It gained its final and preserved look in the Baroque era. Currently, it’s a protected cultural monument of the Czech Republic. The exhibits feature historical furniture, statues by J. A. Heinz, a gallery of portraits of the rules of the Habsburg dynasty and more.
On our walk from the castle we cross the Old Town and arrive on the Nicolas Square (Mikulášské náměstí) with the St. Nicolas Church (Kostel svatého Mikuláše), a Roman-catholic church built in the 14th – 16th century.
What was originally supposed to be a basilika ended up a Gothic church with the tower being added much later, in 1845-1850. The interior features Gothic frescos and a statue of the Christ being whipped from around 1425.
Right next to the church we can admire the St. Vitus Chappel. In the 19th century it belonged to the German speaking part of the Evangelical church and in 1927 it was lent by the town to the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren. In the 2nd half of the 20th century is was used by the Orthodox church and nowadays it’s used for exhibitions and concerts.
And now we come back to Slepičí trh where the entry to the Znojmo underground to find out about the tunnels under the town.
The underground in Znojmo is the largest system of tunnels and cellars in the Czech Republic. It has 4 floors and is 27 km long. If you want to explore this labyrinth, you have to get a ticket for a guided tour. You can choose between the classic route which is suitable also for children and the adrenaline route that consists of creeping under low ceilings, wading through water and climbing wet ladders. The routes are about 1 km and 60 minutes long.
The beginning of the tunnel construction dates back to the 14th-15th century. Znojmo was a rich town thanks to its location and also the fact that it was a commercial crossroad. People built cellars and tunnels under their houses to keep their merchandise. An interesting fact is that we don’t know where all the stone from the tunnels went and also no blueprints of the labyrinth were ever found. Supposedly because of the protection of the town.
During WW II the tunnels gradually became clogged with debris which fully showed its effect in the 60ies when the state of the roads rapidly worsened. The town performed a complete set of rehabilitation works maintaining as much of the original shape of the tunnels and cellars as possible.
The tours take place every day, depending on the season starting at 9 AM or 10 AM and closing at 5 PM or 6 PM (2 PM on Sundays). There are senior and disability discounts as well as discounts for children. Kids under 6 years of age enter free of charge.
Do you want to take a virtual tour in the underground? You can do it here.
Culture in Znojmo
I’ve already told you about the South-Moravian Museum in Znojmo and the expositions in the castle. The area around the Rotunda and castle also sometimes hosts outdoor events. The Museum of Motorism is also worth mentioning. On an area of 1500 square meters it houses several dozens of cars, agricultural machines, prams and toys made before 1950 (more than 5000 items in total).
Another places to see plays and concerts are the St. Vitus Chappel and the theatre, both have been mentioned.
Every year Znojmo hosts its famous music festival “Hudební festival Znojmo”. And I mustn’t forget the grape harvest festival Znojemské vinobraní which takes place every year at the end of summer.
What’s with the Gherkins?
Small pickled cucumbers called nakládané okurky are hugely popular in the Czech Republic. The most famous brand comes from Znojmo.
The South-Moravian warm climate is ideal for the cultivation of the future gherkins but what gained the ones from Znojmo their fame is the pickle. In fact, the exact recipe remains a well-guarded secret even though most Czechs can have an idea as pickling cucumbers at home is something many do in summer.
The gherkin became the symbol of Znojmo so don’t be surprised if you meet a huge gherkin mascot at the local events.
Where to Eat and go for a Coffee in Znojmo
Znojmo offers more than a few places to eat, drink local wine and beer, have coffee, tea and delicious desserts. Here are at least some of them.
Beer from Znojmo including the specials and local cuisine, all for a good price.
Where to find it: U Brány 3, Znojmo
La Casa Navarra
Local as well as international cuisine, homemade pasta and desserts
Where to find it: Kovářská 10, Znojmo
Kavárna U Mlsného Kocoura
Where to find it: Mikulášská 40, Znojmo
Káva na Knopp
Where to find it: Malá Michalská 6, Znojmo
Here are some more of our photos.