Olomouc is an ancient city in the Czech Republic, located in the center of the historic region of Moravia. It is one of the oldest and most beautiful cities of Central Europe. Olomouc attractions are interesting and varied and worth seeing.
Top 5 attractions in Olomouc
According to a widespread legend in Bohemia, the founder of the city is Julius Caesar himself, who allegedly founded it on the site of a military camp of Roman legionnaires. Until recently, historians were very skeptical about the possibility of the participation of the famous commander in the founding of Olomouc, until excavations in the city found the remains of an ancient Roman military settlement. Its age dates back to the 2nd century BC and the camp is now considered to be the most northern Roman settlement in eastern Europe.
In the Middle Ages the city became a major commercial and economic center of the Moravian kingdom, and until the mid 1600s it was the capital of independent Moravia. After joining the Habsburg Empire of Austria, Olomouc was strongly influenced by German culture and officially renamed Olmütz in the Germanic manner. Since 1918, together with the rest of the Moravian lands, it became part of the newly formed Czechoslovakia.
Modern Olomouc attracts tourists with the beautiful architecture of the well-preserved historic center and urban neighborhoods. On the saturation of historical monuments and architectural sights Olomouc is second only to the Czech capital – Prague.
The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. Wenceslaus
The city has long been considered the main center of Orthodoxy in Bohemia, but Catholicism is also widespread among the inhabitants. The central church of Olomouc is considered to be the Cathedral of St. Wenceslas, built in the early 12th century. An interesting feature of this architectural monument is that over its 900-year history, it has been repeatedly rebuilt, changing its appearance and even architectural style.
Originally the cathedral was built in the Romanesque style, but during the restructuring that took place in the 13th and 14th centuries, the church was given a Gothic look with pointed spires reaching a hundred meters high. The next stage of architectural experimentation on the ancient cathedral came in the 19th century, when it was rebuilt again in the neo-Gothic style. This put an end to the architects’ explorations: the temple was recognized as a historical monument, and its exterior was preserved in its present form. The interior of the cathedral has remained unchanged since the Middle Ages.
Today the building is the fourth tallest building in the Czech Republic and the second largest church in the country, second only to St. Vitus Cathedral in the capital. The church was named after the Czech king Wenceslas III, who was treacherously murdered by conspirators in Olomouc in 1306. The circumstances of the monarch’s death remained unsolved – the executor was killed on the spot, and the clients could not be identified. The king’s body was laid to rest in the city’s cathedral, which has since been called St. Wenceslas Cathedral.
Today this church is one of the main tourist attractions of the city of Olomouc.
The Column of the Blessed Trinity
Another historical monument, which must see any tourist visiting Bohemia – the Column of the Holy Trinity. In 2000 the column was recognized by the decision of UNESCO experts as an architectural and historical monument of universal value.
This landmark of the city of Olomouc is made in the form of a pillar, topped with images of the Holy Trinity. In the tiered base of the column are numerous biblical and Czech national saints – a total of 18 sculptures, united in several separate groups. The architectural composition is executed in the Baroque style with superb craftsmanship by Wenzel Reder.
In its purpose, the column of the Blessed Trinity is a plague pillar, which were very common in medieval Europe. They were erected in honor of the deliverance of the city from a terrible epidemic, and expressed praise to the heavenly powers for the protection and intercession. The Olomouc Plague Column was erected in the early 18th century, immediately after the end of the black plague that ravaged Moravia.
Inside the structure is a chapel with bas-reliefs made on biblical motifs. By the way, Olomouc has another, smaller plague pillar, named after the Virgin Mary, located on the Lower Square.
As befits any Central European city, on its central square is the town hall. Moravian Olomouc is no exception: the city administration building with its 76-meter spire dominates all buildings in the historic center. Today here, in addition to the City Hall, are the wedding palace and restaurant. However, the local town hall is not a simple architectural landmark of the city of Olomouc from the 15th century. Its special feature, which attracts many tourists, is an unusual clock.
Most city halls and churches in Europe are decorated with a standard clock in the form of a large dial visible from all parts of the city. In Olomouc, the main city clock was designed in the style of a biblical story, with moving figures. In addition, they could show astronomical time, lunar and solar phases. Unfortunately, this unique work of human thought was destroyed during World War II, when the city was liberated from the German occupiers.
In the postwar period, the craftsmen of Olomouc managed to restore the unique city clock. However, according to the trends of the new times, their design was made in the style of socialist realism. The biblical figures of the moving creche were replaced by images of workers, engineers, collective farmers, etc. At the base of the clock is a mosaic panel – a worker with a hammer and a scientist with a test tube. In this condition, they have survived to this day as a living monument to the socialist past of Czechoslovakia.
A special place in the creation of the unique architectural style of Olomouc is played by its 27 fountains. The most famous of these is the Caesar Fountain, built during the Renaissance. It is dedicated to the legendary founder of the city, the great Roman emperor. It depicts a sculptural composition: Gaius Julius galloping on a horse, and at his feet are arranged allegorical figures representing the forces of nature.
In addition to “Caesar” there are six other ancient fountains, made in the Baroque architectural style. The favorite “fountain theme” is antiquity. Thus, there is a fountain in the city of Arion, located on the Upper Square. It plays on the ancient Greek legend of Arion the singer, rescued after a shipwreck by a dolphin, imbued with his beautiful singing. In the Lower Square there is a beautiful fountain “Jupiter” dedicated to the main Roman deity.
Olomouc Castle and the bishop’s palace are now united into a single museum, called the Archbishop’s Museum. Tourists can enjoy here the extraordinary views, external architecture and interiors peculiar to the monumental buildings of the 12th century.
There are several picturesque medieval castles in the vicinity of the city. First of all, it is Buozov Castle, which belonged to the Teutonic Order.
In the city itself, on Wenceslas Hill stands Olomouc Castle, built in the 11th century – the same one in which King Wenceslas III, mentioned above, was killed.
There are in the city of Olomouc sights belonging to the modern era. It is a newly opened aviation museum located near the local airfield. It was founded by a local enthusiast in 2009, and its exposition so far includes only a few examples of restored postwar aircraft.
Among other museums we can mention the Museum of Modern Art (Republic Square), which includes an art gallery, an exhibition of sculptures and a variety of art installations.