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 famous Austrian composer and conductor Gustav Mahler stayed in Olomouc in 1883. He worked briefly at the German public theater (now the Moravian Theatre) at the beginning of 1883. There is his bust reminiscent of this period placed in the theater lobby. Mahler stayed in a house near the theater called „The Golden Pike“ (now Café Destiny) on the Upper Square (Horní náměstí) in Olomouc.
Johann Christoph Handke (1694-1774) is an important painter of Moravian high Baroque period and the author of a unique autobiography. His work includes many paintings with religious and secular themes. In Olomouc, he decorated with paintings the Corpus Christi Chapel (part of Jesuit Convent), Minor Basilica on the Holy Hill and the Church of the Virgin Mary of the Snow.
The Czech graphic artist, painter and illustrator Karel Svolinský (1896-1986) was born in the Holy Hill near Olomouc. He was trained in wood carving and then graduated from Arts and Crafts School in Prague. Svolinský drew mainly from the national folk tradition and legacy of painters Josef Mánes and Mikoláš Aleš. His most famous Olomouc work is the mosaic decoration of the Astronomical Clock at the Town Hall.
The work of the sculptor Ivan Theimer (*1944), a native of Olomouc, is bound up with France, to where he emigrated in the fall of 1968, and also with the Italian Tuscany. In Olomouc you can admire his Arion Fountain, which completes the set of six Baroque fountains with mythical themes. In the summer, it is a favourite retreat for children and adults who like to refresh and relax here.
The internationally acclaimed native of Olomouc Otmar Oliva (*1952) graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague and lives in Velehrad, where he has his atelier with a foundry. Oliva‘s work can be found in the Olomouc Museum of Art. His admired fountain The Spring of Living Water of St. John Sarkander is placed next to the Chapel of St. John Sarkander on the Michael’s hill.
Josef Dobrovský was a significant Czech philologist, historian and founder of Slavic studies in the Czech lands. He was born in Balassagyarmat near Raab in Hungary on August 17th 1753. In 1787 he obtained an appointment first as vice-rector, and then as rector, in the general seminary for the training of priests at Hradisko (now part of Olomouc). He performed his office well enough, but after the death of Joseph II. he lost his post through the abolition of the seminaries throughout the Habsburg Empire and returned to Prague.
Jiří Wolker (1900-1924) was one of the most talented and outstanding Czech poets belonging to the generation of the early twenties of the last century. He had a warm relationship to Olomouc. His grandparents lived on the Holy Hill where he used to spend summer holidays. A memorial plaque with a bust of the poet is placed at their house (called Wolker‘s villa) in the street of St. Krejčí.
The German writer Peter Härtling (* 1933) spent his childhood in Hartmannsdorf at Chemnitz, where his father maintained a law firm. In order to avoid danger of the Nazi regime the family moved to Olomouc in 1942. He dedicated the book Nachgetragene Liebe to Olomouc. It is the internationally most widespread book related to the city of Olomouc.
Edgar G. Ulmer (1904-1972) was a significant film director, the son of Jewish parents, born in Olomouc in 1904. He worked in Vienna, Berlin and the USA, where he emigrated in 1929. Olomouc was not known as Ulmer‘s hometown for a long time. The director lived in Resslova street, house No. 1, where a memorial plaque has been placed since 2006.
Lubomír Šlapeta (1908-1983) was a Czech architect. He worked along with his twin brother Čestmír Šlapeta in Ostrava and Olomouc, where they produced a number of buildings, excellent examples of functionalist architecture. There are ten such works only in Olomouc, e.g. the Nakládal‘s villa is to be seen in the Polívkova street No. 35, the Kousalík’s villa in the street Na Vozovce No.33.