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.
Several fortification objects have been preserved until now and are available to the public. Popular is for example the Crown Fortress in the city centre where a Museum of Olomouc Fortress is being built and which is an interesting venue for cultural events.
You can find more information about Olomouc fortress at www.cisarska-pevnost.cz.
Olomouc, once capital of Moravia, was already fulfilling the important function of a fortified centre of Moravia in the Middle Ages. Only fragments of the medieval fortifications of the former royal city of Olomouc have been preserved to the present day. Remnants of the medieval walls can be admired by visitors in the Bezruč Park, where there is one of the preserved gateways to the city, the so-called Jewish Gate.
Olomouc fortifications were in very poor condition at the beginning of the 17th century. In 1642, during the Thirty Years War, Olomouc was conquered by the Swedes, who immediately began to repair the original fortifications. They built bastions, the most modern fortification elements of those days, in front of the most vulnerable parts of the walls – the gates.
In 1655 Olomouc was declared a fortress town. A baroque fortress was gradually raised and its construction was completed by the so-called Theresian fortifications erected between the years 1742-1756. Olomouc became one of the largest and most sophisticated star forts not only in Bohemia, but also throughout the Habsburg monarchy. The fortress was tested in a crucible soon after its completion, when it withstood a five-week siege by Prussian troops in 1758. During a city tour, admirers of military monuments shouldn’t miss the unique Theresian gate dating from 1752-1753, whose architectural design is based on the ancient Roman triumphal arch. It is the only preserved fortress gate still standing on its original location. The monumental Theresian Armoury, a typical example of Theresian military architecture, is worth seeing as well.
But even the construction of a baroque fort did not put an end to the fortification story of the city. By the middle of the 19th century bastion walls of the town center were completed by a crown of advanced forts (e.g. Fort Křelov), which moved the main defense line further into the foreland. During the 19th century many such forts (e.g. Fort Radíkov) were built and Olomouc became a unique example of this kind of fortification in our country. City visitors can now visit the Fort No.XIII in Olomouc – Nová Street and Fort No.XVII in Olomouc - Křelov. However, because the walls hindered further development of the city, the fortification function of the city was abandoned by the end of the 19th century.