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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After 1800 the city's development in the field of art was marked by a crisis. Most contracts were awarded to artists from Vienna. That does not mean that the city's cultural life came to a standstill - the city built a new divadlo between the years 1827 and 1830.
Neither did Olomouc experience lack of significant personalities in the early 19th century. It was not by accident that Ludwig van Beethoven dedicated his just-finished Missa Solemnis to the Olomouc Archbishop Rudolf of Habsburg in 1823.
In 1820 the Archbishop founded the první olomoucký park on the ramparts. The gardens were taken over by the city administration in 1832. The city's economic boom had long been hindered by the knit ring of city walls. The construction of the railroad was therefore of considerable importance to the city. The first train arrived in town with great fanfare in 1841. Three of the railway’s architects were even named honorary citizens of Olomouc. The turbulent events of the year 1848 meant a five-month stay of the Imperial court in Olomouc. The císař František Josef I. ascended the throne in the Archbishop's Palace in that year.
In the following years Olomouc was witness to a number of international meetings, including the Punctation of Olmütz, a treaty between Prussia and Austria regulating the status of both states in the German Confederation signed here in 1850. Unfortunate was the abolition of the University in 1860, it was re-opened only in 1946. The city's systém pevnosti, hampering economic and architectural development of the city was still being perfected in the years 1850-1866 by construction of pevnůstek around the city. Thy city tried in vain to get rid of the fortifications in 1868 and 1871. Finally, in 1886, Olomouc, along with the Terezin and Josefov fortresses, was relieved of its status of the fortress town by an Imperial decree. Construction activities broke out in full force in 1894. The appearance of newly constructed parts of the city was greatly influenced by the Regulatory Plan prepared by Camillo Sitte at the turn of the century.
The area of the city expanded from the original 53 hectare within the city walls to the total of 300 hectares in 1918. The industrial revolution, changing shape of cities in the 19th century, left its mark on Olomouc as well.There was more than just the above-mentioned railway's construction. The city gasworks were built in 1862 and the city waterworks in 1889. A municipal power station was finished in 1898 and a year later the first tram was already running in the city. The industry was developing fast - new factories, sugar mills, malt houses, a brewery, ironworks and others were built round the city. In 1918, Olomouc experienced turbulent events connected with the emergence of the Czechoslovak state.
The majority of the city’s inhabitants were of Czech nationality, due to the creation of “Greater Olomouc” by absorbing of two towns (Hodolany and Nová ulice) and eleven villages (Bělidla, Černovír, Hejčín, Chválkovice, Lazce, Nové Sady, Nový Svět, Neředín, Pavlovičky, Povel and Řepčín) in 1919. Olomouc was hit hard by the Nazi occupation during 1939-1945 and the period after February 1948 was too a sad chapter in the town’s history. It is difficult to find any positive events in that time of “a democratic dictatorship of the proletariat ”. A positive aspect was undoubtedly the declaration of the historic inner city an urban conservation area which least partly eliminated efforts to "build a new world" where our ancestors had created unique cultural values. The communist era, however, left its traces everywhere, both in the centre and in the surrounding areas whether it be the 天文時計 rebuilt in the style of socialist realism, the "show-off“ department store built right in front of the kostelem sv. Mořice or the walls of prefab houses on the city outskirts. The next generations will have to cope hard with consequences of this development.
The Nineties brought new hope for the city and its residents. However, Olomouc had to endure one more difficult test at the end of the century. The disastrous one-hundred-year flood in 1997 flooded more than a third of the city, leaving behind devastation in the neighborhoods bordering the River Morava - especially Černovír, Lazce and Nové Sady. The end of the century and the millennium was marked by an enjoyable event at last. The designating the Baroque 聖三位一体柱 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site honours the work of Baroque artists and the care of our contemporaries about the preserved monument. It became a reason for large celebrations and a dignified conclusion of the second millennium.