OLOMOUC (pronounced ‘Olla-moats’) is a wonderful, historic and friendly city in the Moravian part of the Czech Republic, recently recognised by ‘Lonely Planet’ as the leading destination in its new guidebook ‘Secret Europe’.
In a nutshell, about 100,000 people live here, so it’s rather small. HOWEVER, it boasts the Czech Republic’s second largest historic urban preservation zone. Sure, we have all heard of Prague, but Olomouc comes in second. Not bad!
What that means is there is a wealth of magnificent, beautiful, historically and architecturally significant things to see.
Saint Wenceslas Cathedral has the Czech Republic’s second highest spire (by just a couple of metres!). This Neo-Gothic masterpiece has a fascinating history and a few surprises within, like a crypt and the encased skull of Saint Jan Sarkander. Tours up to the giddy heights of the tallest spire can be arranged.
Right next to the Cathedral is the Premyslid Castle. The castle is now home to the Archdiocese Museum, which contains an impressive collection of treasures and artwork. It also allows one to see the magnificent interior of the former castle, with some sections dating back many centuries.
All around Olomouc are beautifully preserved fountains.
A set of six Baroque fountains are some of Olomouc’s most notable historic monuments. They symbolise Roman mythology, with the most prominent one being the Caesar fountain, in honour of Julius Caesar, from which the city’s name of ‘Olomouc’ is derived. The most recent fountain in Olomouc dates back just over a decade, but was inspired by an idea centuries old. It is the Arion Fountain – a great place to relax on a summer’s day to enjoy an ice cream with your feet in the water while kids swim in it!
The view from the tower of St Moritz Church is among the best. After an energetic climb up the incredibly made double helix staircase, one can look down upon the fairy tale-like Renaissance Town Hall building on the main square, which is home to the famous Olomouc Astronomical Clock.
The Chapel of Saint Jan Sarkander hides a really fascinating part of the history of Olomouc. On the site of the former town prison, the chapel was built to commemorate Jan Sarkander, who was flayed alive in the dungeon below the prison. Today, the dungeon-come-torture chamber is preserved below the chapel, and you can see for yourself the torture rack and other artefacts on display.
The UNESCO listed Holy Trinity Column, completed in 1754, is arguably the jewel in the crown of Olomouc. The column is rich in religious symbolism, and its intricate details are striking to behold. A chapel with extraordinary acoustics is housed within and open for inspection during the summer. Today, the column is a favoured meeting place for Olomouc locals and visitors alike and is a stunning example of Baroque design.
The Olomouc Astronomical Clock was built in the sixteenth century and has been renovated several times, most recently in the 1950s to repair the damage inflicted by the departing Nazis in 1945. The façade was remodelled in ‘Socialist Realist’ style and reflects the ideals of the time. It chimes regularly upon the hour, yet the highlight is the midday performance when the various pieces move as the music plays..rather slowly!
Take a stroll through the park alongside the wonderfully preserved Old Town Walls, where a nuclear bomb shelter was built during the cold war (tours available in summer).
There are no shortage of cool bars and clubs to hang out in Olomouc. Olomouc has the Czech Republic’s largest student population per-capita with lots of cool late night venues to party at, like Metro Chillout club, Vertigo and U Magora to name but a few. There are lots of interesting young people around who love to party and enjoy meeting and socialising. This adds to the city’s amazing, friendly vibe.
Olomouc is a dynamic, cultured place, too, with a renowned opera and theatre, as well as the Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra. There is always something going on here with a busy calendar of events all throughout the year.
In Olomouc you will find many tasty restaurants, including 3 microbreweries in the old town plus a few more in nearby towns, lots of great cafés, tea houses, cool bars for every taste, as well as clubs. Its a city that’s big in all the right places, yet also small in all the right places. There are little shops with old world charm as well as modern malls. You feel like you are in a city, yet take a stroll, and you’ll feel like you are in a friendly, relaxed little town!
Olomouc is also a great starting point for some very interesting day trips to suit all interests, to places including castles, historic towns, lakes to swim in, caves, forest walks and even skiing in winter time. We have lots of recommendations for places to visit and sometimes take guests out of town on little excursions, too. Are you a bit over the mega tourist crush of the more famous places? What are you waiting for? Come and discover Olomouc and its surroundings for yourself!