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 Late Gothic Church of The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary in today's Sokol Street was originally built as a church of the Franciscan Monastery.
The monastery and the Church with the typical Franciscan sanctification were built at the initiative of the charismatic preacher and vicar general of Conventual Franciscans, Saint John of Capistrano in the years 1454-1468. By the mid 15th century Olomouc had become a strategic point of Capistrano’s missionary journeys to the Czech lands. The preacher visited the city in 1451 and 1454. His preaching against Utraquists and Jews found fertile soil here, and in 1454 Jews were expelled from all Moravian royal cities, including Olomouc. The church was consecrated in 1468 in the presence of King Matthias Corvinus. The Franciscan Convent further continued in Capistrano’s missionary task.
The church has a simple structure, which is typical for the Franciscan buildings. It is likely that the monastery with its church was built by the city building works, which built The Parish Church of St. Maurice at the same time. Although the Church Of The Immaculate Conception was built in the mid-15th century, the three-naved structure on a square plan has only a simple cross vaulting. More interesting, however, is the pyramidal roof of the church, as well as interior decoration with a few late Gothic wall paintings (such as Our Lady of the Rosary which dates from 1500 in the south aisle of the church, or the scene of the battle of Belgrade which occurred on July 22nd, 1456, shown at 46 m2 on the north wall of the presbytery). After 1525, the monastery with the church and adjoining suburbs of Bělidla were attached to the inner city due to a new line of city walls. An Early Baroque Chapel of St. Anthony of Padua was added to the church on the south side in 1653. Only a part of a cloister with original vaults has survived from the late Gothic period. The remaining part of the cloister was vaulted over in the Renaissance. The whole monastery was rebuilt in Baroque style in 1743. The church and the monastery underwent reconstruction in the nineties of the 20th century. Construction work was accompanied by an archaeological survey, which yielded many interesting findings. It was revealed, for example, that, over many centuries believers trod unwittingly on Jewish gravestones used during construction as a building material for the floor in the monastery church.
At present, the monastery with the church belongs to a Dominican Convent, also active at St. Michael.