Olomouc at the top
Three years, three excellent awards by the world’s prestigious guidebook. Lonely Planet made a list of the most beautiful, yet lesser known tourist destinations. It wasn’t the hot springs of Iceland, Gibraltar Rocks, Odysseus' Ithaca or Luxemburg that ranked in first place but the historical center of Olomouc!
The mini guidebook, Secret Europe, presents tourists with fifty cities from different parts of Europe. The largest, world-renowned guidebook publisher attracts tourists to Olomouc by saying that “in terms of tourism Olomouc can be equated to an authentic restaurant which is your own, small, personal secret. The Main Square is amongst the most enchanting in the country. It is surrounded by historical buildings. It is adorned by the Holy Trinity Column listed as the UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage. Magnificent churches, many of which host an exciting history, are scattered in the streets of the historical center. Explore the foundations of the ancient Olomouc castle in the Archdiocese Museum which is a must-see and then set out to one of the many pubs or mini-breweries”. In 2012, the publisher also awarded Olomouc by ranking it in the top ten most beautiful hidden treasures in Europe. One year later it was once again on the list of the recommended destinations in Moravia. “It’s beautiful as well as surprising for us. Lonely Planet is to tourist guidebooks what Michelin is to gastronomy. I perceive it as a win in the tourist Olympics,” responded Olomouc mayor, Martin Major, when he first heard of the award. “I am very pleased that the professional editor-in-chief of this publication truly appreciates the beauty of our city, its picturesque atmosphere and its uniqueness.
Apart from other things, Olomouc captivated them by the fact that it offers the same architectural treasures as Prague but without the crowds of tourists. It is definitely Olomouc’s advantage in comparison with our capital. However, despite repeated acclaim from the renowned guidebook, it may only be temporary”, mentioned the mayor, Major, with a smile. The deputy mayor, Jan Holpuch added, “I believe that this is an opportunity to introduce our beautiful city to many other tourists.” “I think that being awarded as a hidden treasure or undiscovered city will give Olomouc an even stronger stamp of attractiveness and will evoke more interest in potential visitors.”
Olomouc has been trying to advertise its beauty in a high-quality and systematic way. In the past years, this attempt has proved effective. Statistically as well as simply looking into the streets of the city center confirms that the number of tourists to Olomouc has truly increased. Olomouc is on the list of destinations offered by travel agencies as for example, one-day trips from Prague or as a part of the Vienna – Krakow route. “Greater advertising in cooperation with the agency CzechTourism certainly helped.
This agency gives Olomouc more space than before”, says Karin Vykydalová, head of the tourism department. “Acclaim from Lonely Planet obviously helps. Ideally, a visitor comes here based on the recommendation, is satisfied here and then recommends Olomouc to his friends back home”, adds Dušan Gavenda of the same department. Lonely Planet Secret Europe can be downloaded for free at: www.lonelyplanet.com/secret-europe.
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With the improvement of economic and social conditions Olomouc gained once again a leading position among cities in the Czech lands in the late 15th century. In 1522, King Ludvík granted the city houses and people in Předhradí, and that year also marked the beginning of the administrative integration of the city.
Three years later, new city walls enclosed the suburb Bělidla with the Franciscan monastery. The territorial and economic expansion of the 16th century was accompanied by a cultural boom.
The first pioneer of Renaissance art in Olomouc was probably Jan Filipec, Bishop of Oradea, a native of Prostějov and Administrator of the Olomouc Diocese (1482-1497), close to King Matyáši Korvínovi The real blossoming of the Renaissance in Olomouc took place under Bishop Stanislav Thurzo, who served as bishop in the years 1497 to 1540. A humanist from an important Upper Hungarian aristocratic family, he was known as promoter and supporter of the Olomouc humanist society called Sodalitas Maierhofiana, founded in 1502. Among the intellectuals and poets, well-known even outside the Czech lands, were for example the provost of the chapter Augustine Käsenbrod (“Augustin of Olomouc”), Martin of Jihlava or Štěpán Taurinus, whose work from 1519 includes the first mention of the Olomouc olomouckém orloji. Further Olomouc bishops Jan Dubravius and Marek Kuen later too became members of the Society.
Bishop Stanislav Thurzo was an ardent Catholic. The infamous inquisitor Heinrich Institoris was active in Olomouc shortly after his taking office. Stanislav Thurzo was he who initiated the construction of a new bishop's residence in the eastern part of Předhradí. During the entire 16th century, a vibrant construction activity took place in the city. Not only the citizenry adapted their houses to the new lifestyle, nobility too built palatial houses.
More than twenty prominent aristocratic families, such as the Pernštejns, the Liechtensteins, lords of Boskovice, Ludanice, Žerotín and others dwelt in Olomouc. The city council didn't run behind either after having decorated the eastern facade of the インフォメーション センター with a magnificent Renaissance portal in 1530, later completed by a new staircase and a loggia. The Renaissance era was also a time of religious disputes between Catholics and Protestants. For example, the printer Jan Olivetský was executed in Olomouc in 1547 for printing "heretical" books, non-Catholics raided the dominikánský klášter in 1553. The Jesuit order came to town as early as 1556 with the arrival of intensive Counter-Reformation in the second half of the 16th century. Bishop Vilém Prusinovský was a major supporter of this order. To him Olomouc owes the foundation of the second oldest university in the Czech Lands - the Jesuit academy, in 1573.
The next chapter of the Counter-Reformation took place under the Bishop Stanislav Pavlovsky (1579-1598), another of the katedrály builders. At this time, Emperor Rudolf II. returned princely titles to bishops making it sufficiently clear to the secular aristocracy who, after the emperor, occupied the most important position in Moravia. The coat of arms of the Olomouc Diocese was also improved by this time. The three towers of the Olomouc dómu, built by Bishop Pavlovský, perished, however, during the later Neo-Gothic reconstruction. With its eight thousand inhabitants and 1200 houses, Olomouc was the second largest city in the Czech lands after Prague before the Thirty Years' War.