Brno – The Hub of South Moravia

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Looking toward Špilberk Fortress from the Old Town Hall tower.

Star of the Southeast

Brno, in the southeast, is the capital of the Czech Republic’s South Moravian region and is the country’s second biggest city. The city itself offers a uniquely different feel to the national capital through a distinctly more relaxed pace to life while still possessing all the amenities of a modern city.

Brno is a very healthy city for living, with a good balance of urban green space to developed areas. The tap water is quite drinkable and the air quality is good. The city has been a member of the World Health Organization’s Healthy Cities Network since the mid 1990s.

With the idyllic Czech wine country directly to the south and the rugged beauty of the Moravian Karst to the north, Brno has some wonderful adventures waiting just beyond it’s doorstep for the visitor or resident.

A Feel for the City 

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Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts, one of many universities giving Brno a youthful feel.

Brno can be categorized in several ways. With a variety of theatres both large and small as well as several museums and galleries, it most certainly does not lack culture. It is also a university town and a business and administrative centre. With several parks and other forms of green space, it is also a pleasantly clean city for the most part.

Since I arrived in 2004, the city has steadily taken on a somewhat more international feel.  Many more languages can be heard on a daily basis in the streets due to an influx of both foreign workers and students. Many multinational companies have set up operations in Brno and the demand for multilingual staff has increased accordingly. Additionally, local universities have attracted an increasing number of foreign students.

Fortunately, the increased population of foreigners and the increase in local tourism that has come with it have not changed the very livable nature of the city. It still is very much a city that exists for it’s residents first and foremost.

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Obilní trh park, in the Veveří district, is one of several pockets of green space in Brno.

What to do in Brno

Brno’s compact centre is largely a pedestrian only zone and not terribly difficult to navigate for self guided touring types. The tourist information office in the centre can provide you with a map that has the various attractions marked on it.

Attractions of the centre include: St. Peter and Paul’s Cathedral, Capuchin crypts, Špilberk Fortress, the Moravian Gallery and the underground sections. Additionally, the centre also has many churches which you can enter and take in the architecture.

Further from the centre the UNESCO listed Tugendhat Villa can be visited, though booking ahead is required for this. Also outside the centre are the city’s exhibition grounds, with a year-round program of fairs and exhibitions to take in, and the Brno Technical Museum.

If you have a specific liking for architecture, Brno boasts a quite eclectic landscape of buildings ranging from medieval through to the modern. Brno was significant in the development of the Modernist and Functionalist architectural styles of the 20th century and several luminaries of that movement spent time in Brno; you won’t spend a single day in the city without encountering or interacting with structures from those styles.

If you visit the city in the spring or summer months, a quick tram ride from the centre will get you to the small but relaxing Masaryk University Botanic Gardens. Moravian Square and Lužánky Park, both easily reachable on foot from the centre, offer great places to take a rest after a morning or afternoon of walking around.

The city dam and reservoir, which are reachable by public transit and give you a break from the city without actually leaving it, offer year round recreational opportunities. In the spring, summer and autumn months, the area has many walking and cycling trails and a lot of green space to enjoy; you can also take a boat ride on the reservoir if you like. In the winter months, providing temperatures are low enough, cross-country skiing trails are opened and the chance to go skating on the reservoir is possible.

Paying a Visit and Learning More

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Brno’s small but international airport. one of several ways to access the city.

Being the major city in the region, Brno is well connected and not difficult to access by road or rail.

The city’s small but international airport also offers a point of entry with regular flights to and from the UK and other points in Europe.

Brno offers a respectable selection of accommodation options to suit a wide range of traveling styles. Whether you prefer a hostel or a five star hotel, the city has a place for you to stay.

To learn more about Brno and tourism opportunities in and around the city, follow these links:

Brno city website:

http://www2.brno.cz/index.php?lan=en

Brno Tourist Information Centre website:

http://www.ticbrno.cz/?lang=en-US

“Go to Brno” website:

http://www.gotobrno.cz/en?langselect=1

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