Kroměříž – Baroque in Bloom

Easy Exploring in the East

Kromeriz 1
A view of the stunning UNESCO listed flower garden in Kroměříž.

Kroměříž, located in the Haná region in the south east of the Czech Republic, is one of the more well known Czech localities outside of the country. Primarily, this fame comes from the UNESCO listed Archbishop’s Chateau and Flower Gardens.

Beyond the chateau and gardens, Kroměříž is an attractive town with a great deal of history and architecture to take in and explore. As it sits on flat land, it’s a relatively undemanding place to visit on foot and quite easily navigable.

Owing to its well known status outside of Czech borders, the city is well prepared for visitors with a range of restaurants and cafes to suit various tatses.

At that, let’s spend a bit of time in Kroměříž:

Standing on the historic main square looking towards the Archbishop's Chateau with its distinctive tower.
Standing on the historic main square looking towards the Archbishop’s Chateau with its distinctive tower.

A Bit of History

While the area has been inhabited by Slavic people since the 7th century, it was not until 1260 that Kroměříž recieved fortifications and began a transition from a market town to, at its height, a city of bishops and of great importance to the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

It was in 1260 that Bruno von Schauenburg, Bishop of Olomouc, selected Kroměříž as his seat. The town’s fortunes improved continually under a succession of bishops; in the late 1400s and early 1500s, a modernisation of the town’s Gothic castle was put in motion which included the beginings of the modern chateau and gardens which surround it.

Dressed in period Swedish army uniforms, this group prepares to fire a volley on the main square on the anniversary of the 1643 plundering of the city.
Dressed in period Swedish army uniforms, this group prepares to fire a volley on the main square on the anniversary of the 1643 plundering of the city.

Misfortune befell the city in 1643 when it was plundered by the Swedish army during the Thirty Years’ War and then in 1645 when plague swept through the city. With a new bishop in 1664, the fortunes of Kroměříž once again took a turn for the positive. Through the late 1600s, the chateau began to take on the Baroque appearance it has today and the flower gardens situated across the town centre from the chateau were designed and constructed.

It was also a time when efforts were made to attract a more aristocratic class to the city; this, in turn, attracted architects of great skill and reputation as well. Their legacy can be seen in some of the city’s other buildings.

Significantly, in 1848, the city served as the seat of the Constituent Imperial Assembly of the Austro-Hungarian Empire while Vienna was unstable and unsafe due to threats of uprisings and revolutionary activity.

For its stunning beauty and archetural uniqueness; Kroměříž has, in modern times, earned the nickname “Athens of Haná”.

Uniquely UNESCO

Looking out over the chateau gardens.
Looking out over the chateau gardens.

The primary draw for visitors to Kroměříž is, without doubt, the UNESCO listed chateau and flower gardens. These sites were entered onto the UNESCO list in 1998.

The primary reasons for the listing is connected to their level of preservation and how well they represent Baroque architecture and landscaping in the 17th and 18th centuries. In many regards they are unique in Europe as well as the larger world.

The gardens which surround the chateau spread over 64 hectares and contain a wide variety of plant species as well as architectural features which rank it among the most significant landscaped parks in Europe.

Historical greenhouses in the flower garden.
Historical greenhouses in the flower garden.

A short walk across the centre of the city will take you to the picturesque flower gardens and their distinctive geometric layout and preserved historical structures.

The significance of the flower garden lies not only in its uniqueness and level of preservation, but also in its representation of a transition in tastes in period garden and landscape design. It contains design elements of Italian Rennaissance styling as well as French Baroque and demonstrates how the former gave way to the latter.

It should be noted that both sites are open year round, well visited and popular, so expect crowds of greater or lesser extent when you visit. They are also quite popular for weddings and wedding photography, so you should expect that if you visit in spring or summer.

A Walk Around Town

The Classicist style Judicial Academy building and the Baroque style St. John the Baptist church are among other architectural attractions in Kroměříž.
The Classicist style Judicial Academy building and the Baroque style St. John the Baptist church are among other architectural attractions in Kroměříž.

Kroměříž is a pleasantly walkable city with no challenging hills or slopes that require special degrees of physical fitness. If you don’t wish to walk, it does have a small public tranport system.

Walking through the historical centre, you will have the opportunity to view a variety of buildings in different architectural styles; Notable examples include the arcade lined main square, the town hall, St. Maurice church, St. John the Baptist church and the Judiciary Academy building. However, there are several others to take in.

One of several bronze waymarkers to guide you across the centre.
One of several bronze waymarkers to guide you across the centre.

The city is quite well suited to the self guiding sort as there are several bronze waymarkers laid into the paving stones every few metres or so that you can easily follow through the centre between the chateau and flower gardens, so it pays to look down from time to time as you make your way from one to the other.

Between this well marked trail and a quick stop at the tourist information centre in the town hall, one should have little problem getting the most from a visit to Kroměříž.

Paying a Visit and Learning More

With both rail and bus connections, Kroměříž can be reached without much trouble from a variety of places in the Moravian regions of the Czech Republic and can serve well as a day trip. As the city also has a selection of hotels, a longer stay is also possible.

Whether you gear your holidays around themes of architecture, gardens, history, UNESCO sites or just prefer relaxing site seeing and walking; this city certainly won’t let you down.

The following links will give you more information about the town and its UNESCO listed sites:

https://www.zamek-kromeriz.cz/en

http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/860

http://www.czechtourism.com/t/kromeriz/

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