Bishop’s Courtyard – Where the Wild Things are in Brno

A selection of predatory birds which can be found in the Czech Republic
A selection of predatory birds which can be found in the Czech Republic

A Walk on the Czech Wild Side

For a small landlocked nation in the heart of Europe, the Czech Republic possesses surprising ecological and geographic diversity. Inside the country’s 78,866 square kilometre area, one can explore a variety of ecosystems such as wetland, grassland, steppe, woodland, karst and mountains to name a few.

Additionally, The Czech Republic boasts four national parks, nearly 30 protected landscape areas as well as several smaller protected areas.

Just as there is a surprising amount of variation in the land, there is a surprising amount of diversity in the Czech Republic’s plant and animal life. Beyond plants and fungi, of which there are many types in the country, there are over 50,000 species of invertebrates and around 380 species of vertebrate species which can be found in the Czech lands.

Bishop’s Courtyard, located in the centre of Brno, houses a permanent exhibition spread across two floors focusing on vertebrate wildlife in the Czech Republic. In this facility, which comes under the authority of the Moravian Regional Museum, you can wander through galleries dedicated to birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and fish.

Part of a large diorama of  wetland birds.
Part of a large diorama of wetland birds.

Feathered Friends

Birds are, by far, given the most space at this museum. Upon entry, you pass by a series of display cases featuring a variety of small songbirds before entering a larger gallery featuring game birds, raptors as well as forest dwelling species.

Birds can also be found on the second floor, with a dedicated gallery to water birds ranging from small wading types to ducks and geese to herons and storks. the centerpiece of this gallery is a large diorama of a wetland environment with a range of birds which can be found there.

One of several dioramas in the museum's mammal  gallery.
One of several dioramas in the museum’s mammal gallery.

From Feathers to Fur

Also on the second floor of the museum is the mammal gallery which features displays and information covering the various deer and antelope species which can be found in the Czech Lands as well as rodents, weasels, bats and wild pigs which are common.

The mammal hall also features exhibits on the grey wolf and eurasian lynx, both of which are subjects of reintroduction programs currently underway in the country.

A general view of the fish gallery which includes both live and taxidermy fish.
A general view of the fish gallery which includes both live and taxidermy fish.

Something Fishy

Located on the main floor of the museum, the fish exhibits are reached by passing through the very small amphibian and reptile gallery which separates them from the bird exhibits.

In the middle of the fish gallery is a block of older, cinema style seats which face three large aquariums stocked with carp and other indigenous Czech fish species. These aquariums, according to the museum’s website, are the largest fresh water, cold water aquariums in the country.

Along another wall in the fish gallery are taxidermy examples of other fish that can be found in Czech lakes and waterways but would be too large or possibly too difficult to keep in aquariums.

Bishop's Courtyard complex with the city cathedral in the background.
Bishop’s Courtyard complex with the city cathedral in the background.

Bishop’s Courtyard

Bishop’s Courtyard, which is of largely Renaissance design, is the oldest facility under the Moravian Regional Museum’s jurisdiction and the museum has had a presence there since the late 1800s.

Situated at the foot of Brno’s landmark St. peter and St. Paul’s Cathedral, the building exteriors are very photogenic and the courtyard very relaxing on days with good weather.

It should be noted that the museum’s website includes an exhibition of several carved wooden mushroom models in the information about the wildlife exhibits I’ve covered in this article. However, that exhibition is not directly accessible from the wildlife exhibits and is part of a mushroom gatherers’ consultation centre in an adjoining section of the building. The mushroom models are only open to viewing when the consultation centre is open, which is on a very limited basis.

Learning More

This link will take you to the museum’s website, which includes information about opening hours and admission fees:

http://www.mzm.cz/en/bishops-courtyard/

This link will take you to a site with more information regarding Czech wildlife and the current state of it:

http://www.biolib.cz/en/speciesmappings/

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