Brno Stories and Tips

The region of Moravia around Brno

Scattered here and there amidst lush countryside or perched on the banks of the Morava, Svitava or Svratka rivers, the numerous tiny villages or small towns of South Moravia have their own history and natural attractions. There's so much to see that it is necessary to make a short list of the most unusual and most splendid sights before trying to discover this region, an area usually overlooked by tourists who prefer to visit the more advertised Bohemia. Medieval castles, untouched palaces, unrestored churches, tiny chapels, citadels protected by worn out defensive walls and folklore museums are still awaiting discovery.

About 50kms northwest of Brno, Perstejn Castle for example abounds in history; likewise the unrestored palace of Moravsky Krumlov, 30kms southwest of Brno is a simple historic structure constructed within an area of unparalleled natural beauty renowned for its lush vineyards and wine production. The skansen and folklore museum of Roznov pod Radhostem, about 100kms northeast of Brno looks deeply into the traditional crafts of days past and houses numerous preserved old structures collected from villages around Moravia.

All these interesting places are definitely worth a visit but if your time is limited, it's better to stick to one or more of the following, considered by many to be the highlights of South Moravia.

1. The small charming town of Telc, 100kms west of Brno has never been touched since it was rebuilt in the mid-16th- century by Lord Zacharias, Governor of Moravia. All buildings you see today are authentic originals. For this reason, the historic centre was added to UNESCO's World Heritage List in 1992.There are at least two buses daily between Brno and Telc. These continue further west to Ceske Budejovice. The convenient morning bus leaves from Brno's bus station outside the city centre at 9:30am and covers the 100kms distance to Telc in two hours.

Huge artificial duck ponds that were originally constructed to provide security and an ample supply of fish enclose the wonderful city centre. The northwest tip of this historic centre is occupied by namesti Zachariase z Hradce, the Old Town square, which is lined with a splendid array of 16th-century Renaissance buildings. Stroll along the whole length of the square until you reach the Baroque Church of the Name of Jesus and the entrance to the castle complex. The highlight here is without doubt the Renaissance Water Chateau, which you can visit on guided tour only. Both the adjoining Museum of History and the Art Gallery Jana Zrzaveho are worth a visit. If you still have time, wander around the English-style park that adjoins the Gothic Church of St.James. From here, you can enjoy excellent views of the castle's medieval towers.

2. A unique natural beauty 20kms north of Brno and 8kms south of Blansko is the Moravsky Kras, a labyrinthine network of caves formed by erosion caused by the water of the underground Punkva River. It's difficult to reach the caves if you don't have private transport. The best way is however to take one of the frequent buses from Brno to Blansko and then walk along the remaining 8kms signposted route. Alternatively, you can hitch a ride along the way, which shouldn't be difficult. The route leads to Skalni Mlyn from where you can take the frequent 'Eko-expres' train to the caves. The information office at Skalni Mlyn provides information about attractions in the area and sells tickets for the caves.

There are 4 networks of caves you can visit. The 75 minute splendid tour along the Punkevni Caves is the most rewarding. You walk through a long stretch of deep caves amidst columns of stalagmites and stalactites until you reach the foot of the deep Macocha Abyss. A short boat ride down the Punkva River leads you out of the caves. Business hours in summer are 8:20am to 3:50pm and in winter 9am to 2pm. The nearby Katerinska, Balcarka and Sloupsko-Sosuvske Caves can also be visited.

3. Some 20kms east of Brno at Slavkov u Brna, you shouldn't miss a wonderful palace whose interior boasts splendid works of art and historical exhibits. This Baroque edifice built in 1705 has a splendid facade and numerous majestic rooms adorned with elaborate stucco work and artistic paintings. The highlight of the palace is a permanent exhibition that features with remarkable clarity the most controversial periods in the life of Napoleon who defeated Austria and Russia in 1805 at Pracky kopec, west of Slavkov u Brna. Stroll along the surrounding fertile countryside, and if you're fit enough, continue west towards Pracky kopec. From the nearby village of Prace, there are a few daily buses which travel back to Brno.

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