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.
Horní náměstí (Upper Square)
Town Hall's archway
779 11 Olomouc
Opening hours: daily 9:00am –7:00pm
Tel.: (+420) 585 513 385, 392
Olomouc region Card
Olomouc Region Card is a tourist discount card that allows you to visit Olomouc significant savings. Its purchase to make sure you completely discounted or free admission.
The Smetana Park was founded in 1820 by planting an area between the Theresian and the Catherine Gate on the western perimeter of the city belonging formerly to the city fortress. This first Olomouc park called the Rudolf Alley was completely destroyed in the first year of the Austro-Prussian War.
Already in the second half of 1866, however, the city restored the main alley - according to the project of Arch. Max Machánek - by planting a 710 m long avenue of chestnut and lime trees. The alley, a significant architectural feature and a symbol of Olomouc’s parks to this day, got its current shape in 1919 by trimming the lime and chestnut trees into high straight walls. The park also has some interesting sculptures. In 1925, a statue of Bedřich Smetana was unveiled, after whom the park was named. A number of works were created by Julius Pelikán, the pupil of J.V. Myslbek, one of the most important Czech sculptors - the entrance portal of the Palm House or the memorial of the botanist and director of a Czech secondary school in Olomouc, František Polívka. In 1932, a stone monument in memory of the World Esperanto Congress was erected in the park.
Next to common, mainly deciduous, trees, there are many dendrological marvels presented in the Smetana Park – bald cypress native to the swamps of Florida growing on the banks of a lake, a group of dawn redwoods, deciduous conifers, growing in the middle of the Magnolia Garden. Other attractions in the Smetana Park include one of the oldest species in the world – the maidenhair tree (Ginkgo biloba). The huge North American honey locust is conspicuous with its brown, up to 40 cm long, pods. In late spring, the tulip tree blooms with large tulip-like flowers of orange-green. Groups of pagoda trees and eastern black walnuts enhance the park's beauty.
Other rare tree species include the Amur cork tree and Himalayan pine with bundles of fine needles. The Magnolia Garden is a relaxing area in the vicinity of the pinetum. In the spring it provides a charming view of a flood of white and pink flowers, some of which reach up to 20 cm. In the fall and from freezing winter into spring, yellow and red marvellous blossoms of East Asian and American witch-hazel bushes attract the attention of visitors.