Ostrava is the third largest city in Czech Republic and the capital of Czech Silesia. It was born as an industrial city in the heart of a major coalfield and it has been known as the “Steel Heart” of the country. Despite it’s fame as the center of metallurgy and coal-mining it has undergone almost a radical change since the Velvet Revolution.
Ostrava might be a city of a significantly industrial character, however, this doesn’t mean it has nothing to offer to the tourists. It is also a destination of many Erasmus students who decide to attend the universities here.
As Jarek Nohavica sings “Ostrava is a peculiar region” and peculiar are its people, too. The rough conditions have shaped the character of the people as well as their accent and the city is sometimes object of jokes because of the very distinctive dialect of the Ostravians. The Czech spoken here is easily recognizable for short syllables and brusque tone and words which are incomprehensible to anyone who’s not local.
The former industrial area in Ostrava – Vítkovice is a complex of unique buildings aspiring to be registered as a World Heritage Site. The closing of the metallurgy factories was followed by a long revitalisation project of the area. Nowadays, it is the location of the Science and Technology Center with expositions for children as well as adults, teaching halls, laboratories, a 3D cinema and a science theatre.
Colours of Ostrava
Since 2012 the area hosts the biggest international music festival in Czech Republic. Colours of Ostrava is famous for its multi-genre and avant-garde focus and featuring stars like The Cranberries, Björk or Alanis Morissette as well as localy-known musicians.
Culture in Ostrava
If you’re fan of music, there are quite a few options besides Colours of Ostrava. The Janáček Philharmonic Orchestra is based here and so you can enjoy not only their classical music but also the performances of the attendees of one of the several international festivals of classical music.
There are several theatres, the famous Museum of Ostrava located in the 16th century Old Town Hall building and the Museum of mining. There are several more cultural activities in Ostrava, you can get detailed information in any of the local infocenters.
Partying in Ostrava
Historically, the life has always been tougher in the north. Hard-working people going down the mines every day and spending the evenings in the simple pubs of Poruba…the people of Ostrava learnt to make the best of everything. When the factory complex closed, they transformed it into a something better and now they have a huge party zone when the time of the festival Colours comes.
All party-lovers know Ostrava for one more thing – the Stodolní street. This legendary street is the place to enjoy nighlife and a home to more than 60 bars, clubs, cafés and restaurants.
As in so many other cities, we start in the city center. The New City Hall on Prokešovo náměstí offers great views from its 73-meter-tall tower. The true historical center is the Masaryk Square (Masarykovo náměstí) with its 17th century Marian column and a bust of T. G. Masaryk, the first president of Czechoslovakia. And speaking of history, we shouldn’t forget the Silesian Ostrava castle – you can read more about it here.
For those in need of rest we recommend Komenského sady, a large park with a café. It is a common meeting place of many free time sport groups. The Ostrava ZOO and botanical garden is a great place to go with kids, it’s famous especially for its hippo breeding. Another great place for children is the DinoPark Ostrava. If you’d like to dive into the history of the minery, you can do so not only in the mentioned Museum of Mining but also in the Landek Park which is located in Petřkovice, a village right next to Ostrava. There are surface expositions as well as underground ones and you will learn also a thing or two about the rescue works and the means of transportation in the mines.
Did you know that Ostrava had its own astronomical clock? Even though it’s not as famous as the clock of Prague, it’s worth seeing. It’s part of the building of the Marionette theatre and it is quite new. It was installed in 2011.
If you want to see something really unique in these parts of the world, you’ll have to go to the Silesian part of Ostrava and look for a mountain called Halda Ema on the right side of the river Ostravice. This mountain was made from tons and tons mining gangue and it’s still active which you can see by the white vapour coming from it. The innner processes make the surface constantly warm creating a subtropical clima with the corresponding fauna and flora. Entrance on the mountain is forbidden though so you’ll have to admire it from the outside.
Where to Eat and Drink in Ostrava
We bring you a few tips, in case you’re looking for great places to eat and have coffee in Ostrava.
This bistro offers dishes that are not only delicious but also stylish. English breakfast, meat, burgers and desserts, Hogo Fogo is a complete package.
Where to go: Sokolská třída 6
Attention all meat lovers! Stračena Pub specializes in steaks and other meat dishes like burgers or farmer’s sandwiches. Their beer menu includes lagers from smaller breweries.
Where to go: Pavlouskova 24
This country-side style restaurant serves traditional dishes like svíčková or guláš in generous portions like from a Czech grandma;-)
Where to go: Hladnovská 19
CoKafe can be found in several locations in Ostrava. They offer high-quality coffee as well as sandwiches and desserts, smoothies or granola.
Where to go: Vítkovická 3369, Nádražní 26, Hlavní třída 116
This café is a great place to go in the center if you want some ligh lunch and coffee. Lovely atmosphere, nice staff and really good coffee, that’s Black Tree Cafe.
Where to go: Prokešovo nám. 1883
Čauky mňauky is something for the cat lovers. It’s a cat café which means you will have your coffee while you’re surrounded by these beautiful felines. And not just coffee, there are lemonades, teas, ice-creams and some finger food.
Where to go: Nádražní 46
We think Ostrava is definitely worth visiting. What about you, what are your favorite places in this rapidly changing city?