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.
You simply should not miss the Olomouc castle site situated on the Wenceslas Hill! Right here in 1306, the last Přemyslid, the Czech king Wenceslas III, was assassinated. You can admire the Bishop's Palace with its famous Romanesque windows, the gothic St. Wenceslas Cathedral, today the seat of the Archbishop of Olomouc, or the Archdiocesan Museum founded on the initiative of Pope John Paul II.
The former Přemyslid Castle has been a national cultural monument since 1962. The Olomouc castle site with the St. Wenceslas Cathedral, strongly modified by later amendments and alterations, is located on the Wenceslas Hill. Today, there remains little visible evidence of the significance and power of this castle. As time went on, the castle was overbuilt with religious buildings and the cathedral.
The most important part of the castle is now the St. Wenceslas Cathedral and the partly preserved Romanesque palace with a valuable architectural design of window openings. On Wenceslas Square there are some preserved remains of the castle such as some parts of the Romanesque walls to the south of the cathedral. The remnants of the castle still look impressive from the north and northeast sides. On a rocky headland there are towering stone walls, a remainder of the outer wall of the Romanesque palace with windows, gothic bay windows, the Round tower and other buildings bearing elements of the castle. Near the cathedral there is the Chapel of St. Anne, which previously served as an election place of Olomouc bishops and archbishops. The former Cathedral Deanery is now the seat of the Archdiocesan Museum, part of which, the Chapel of St. Barbara, is accessible to the public.
The first written mention of the castle in Olomouc is included in the Cosmas Chronicle. Cosmas noted that in 1055 the Appanage Prince Vratislav was fleeing his brother Spytihnev to Hungary, leaving his wife at a castle in Olomouc. Many important personalities since have passed through the history of the Olomouc castle. The Bishop Jindřich Zdík, son of the chronicler Cosmas, completed the St. Wenceslas Cathedral in 1131 and relocated the episcopal see from the Church of St. Peter to the castle grounds. In this way the castle became a seat of ecclesiastical authorities. The king Wenceslas III., the last Přemyslid, also stayed at the castle and was assassinated here in 1306. In 1767 the young Mozart stayed in the house of the Chapter Provost on the castle grounds and composed Symphony No. 6 in F major here. Some of the recent celebrities who have visited the site are Mother Theresa or Pope John Paul II.