by captain oddsocks
October 22, 2005
If you only have time to visit one of Olomouc’s fine parks, it should be this one. As well as the monumental fortifying walls there are several items of historical interest within the park itself, and it offers unique views of some of Olomouc’s grandest historical buildings. A wide path divided into halves for cyclists and pedestrians runs the length of the park, roughly following the right bank of the mill channel, and there are dozens of smaller pedestrian only paths that wind and loop into all corners of the eccentrically shaped park. Many of the paths are lined with benches and some lead to one of the three staircases up through the walls into the old town.
The most impressive of the staircases is the one inside the recently restored Michalskou věž/Michael’s tower between St Michael’s and the art nouveau Villa Primavesi. The tower dates from the end of the 12th century, predating the rest of the city walls by several centuries and leading you under cover to the highest point of the old town. The very uppermost floors of the tower are accessible from the garden of the Villa Primavesi, and are not really open to the public, unless you can talk your way into a quick visit by getting friendly with the gardener. By the base of the tower is the wooden monument to the namesake of the gardens, poet Petr Bezruč, who was born in Opava, but spent much of his later life at nearby Kostelec na Hané. Another staircase rises from the southern end of the park to Purkrabská Ul, and the third one opposite the footbridge leads you to a winding alley and eventually out beside the political sciences faculty on Křizovského ul. This staircase is only open from 8am to 6pm daily.
Between the staircase and the footbridge are four statues of Hercules in different poses, representing the progress of the four seasons. My favourite is ‘winter’, with Hercules wearing a thick lion skin (and skull) for warmth. The statues were moved to the location in the sixties, marking the place where Jakub’s Mill stood on the channel from at least the year 1213 (first written mention) until it was demolished in 1909.
Nearby in the park is the mausoleum, which was built in 1926 to honour Yugoslav soldiers who fell in Olomouc during the First World War. Above the walls behind the mausoleum is the Jewish gate, which once led from the Jewish quarter of the city, but was later sealed closed. The Jewish population were expelled from all royal towns in 1454, and the arrival of the Jesuits and construction of Moravia’s first university on the site left the Jewish gate as the one remaining structure from the Jewish quarter.
From journal The parks and gardens of Olomouc