Culture, architecture and a peculiar dialect, that’s Olomouc, the capital of the ethnographic region Haná or Hanácko (Hanakia in English).
Olomouc, the true center of Moravia?
Olomouc or as the locals say – Olomóc or Holomóc is the heart of Central Moravia and of the region of Hanakia which gave name to the very distinctive dialect of Czech which becomes almost unintelligible in some villages of the region.
Listen to the dialect called hanáčtina.
This Moravian metropolis used to be a natural center of Moravia for several hundreds of years. Not only thanks to its location but also to the university of great reputation, the religious life and the local cultural life. It attracted artists and business people from all over Europe and its past political and economic importance reflects in the overall architecture.
Even after Brno took over as the capital of Moravia, Olomouc still keeps attracting many for its unique ambient and hosts many events. Probably the most famous ones are the botanical exposition Flora Olomouc, the International Organ Festival, the choral festival Svátky písní Olomouc – Festa Musicale, the Flamenco Festival or the Olomouc Halfmarathon.
Let’s do some sightseeing
We start in the center of Olomouc, the Upper Square (Horní náměstí). The City hall is the dominant of the city and the symbol of its former importance. The city hall features expositions on the history of Olomouc and also an astronomical clock called orloj in Czech.
The 18th century Column of the Holy Trinity is a feature of the square you can’t overlook and it has been a World Heritage Site since 2000. This 35 meters tall column features over 40 statues! It was sanctified in 1754 with the empress Maria Theresia present.
The Church of St. Maurice is one of the most valuable late Gothic buldings in Moravia. Its organ constructed by J. E. Heintzler and M. Engler is one of the largest organs in Europe.
There are several significant fountains at the Upper Square and around. Caesar’s Fountain is the largest one and somes from the mid 18th century. As the name suggests, the horse-riding statue is of none other than the Roman emperor Gaius Julius Caesar who – according to the Rennaisance legend – founded Olomouc. In his hand the statue’s holding the founding document of Olomouc.
Merkur’s Fountain comes from the same time and it’s the last from a series of six Baroque fontains in Olomouc. Hercules’ Fountain is 40 years older and it commemorates the victory of the Austrian army over the Turks at the battle of Viena in 1683.
One thing tourists remember from the Upper Square are the bronze statues of giant turtles. They are the part of the newest Arion’s Fountain from 2002.
Even the Lower Square features fountains – Neptun’s Fountain representing the ruler of the seas and Jupiter’s Fountain. Another impressive dominant of this square is the Marian Column from the beginning of the 18th century.
Around the castle
The Olomouc castle was first mentioned in 1055 in the famous Kosmas’ Chronicle. In 1306 it became the place of death of the last member of the Přemyslid dynasty, king Wenceslas III (Václav III.).
The most important part of the castle is the Gothic Dome of St. Wenceslas and a partially preserved Roman palace.
Other places in Olomouc
Walking towards the Wenceslas’ Square you can admire the St. Michael’s Church and St. Jan Sarkand Chappel. Jan Sarkand was a priest who was tortured to death in 1620 and canonized by John Paul II. in 1995.
The Art Nouveau Villa Primavesi features comes from the beginning of the 20th century and represents a blend of vienese and british Art Nouveau.
If you counted correctly, you’ve notices that we mentioned only five Baroque fountains (and one modern). The sixth fountain is on the Republic Square (Náměstí republiky) and it’s the Fountain of the Tritons.
Cross the river Morava north from the castle and you’ll reach a hill called Hradisko with the Hradisko Monastery on its top. This former Premonstresian and Benedictine monastery has beel declared a cultural heritage in 1995 and occupies the Olomouc military hospital.
Take your children to the Fortress of Knowledge, the interactive museum in a former military warehouse. Explore the wonders of the human brain and the Enigma machine or visit the digital planetarium. Right infront of the fortress you can hop on the Ološlap – the bar on wheels in which you can drink beer and discover Olomouc at the same time.
And, when we talk about Olomouc, we mustn’t forget to mention the famous the mature curd cheese or olomoucké tvarůžky (although they actually come from the nearby village Loštice) and its museum. Tvarůžky are probably the smelliest thing you’ll encounter on your trip to Czech Republic, so don’t miss the opportunity so learn about its history and to see how they’re made.
Where to Eat in Olomouc
If you’re a fan of fine dining, you’re in the right place. The Entrée restaurant has been a real bomb in the past few years. It’s chef Přemek Forejt became a huge star all over the country thanks to his unorthodox ideas and the way he leads this establishment.
Restaurant u Mořice is a more traditional place with a variety of meals to accompany with local beer and wine and also some desserts. And you can find it at the Church of St. Maurice.
Olomouc is a beautiful city worth visiting. And how about discovering other places in Moravia?