A Mirror to the City
The very centre of South Moravia’s capital city is compact and pleasantly walkable; with the exception of the morning and afternoon rush, it has a steady though not overwhelming ebb and flow to the foot traffic and is for the most part a pedestrian only zone.
The centre of Brno reflects well some of the key characteristics of the city, not the least of which is that it is a living city that exists primarily for its residents. With several theatres, museums and university buildings scattered about, it also reflects the cultural and university town aspect of the city.
With parks at both its north and south ends, as well as the large park that surrounds the landmark Špilberk Fortress on the west side; the centre shows the city’s respectable amount of greenspace in relation to developed areas.
While there are certainly things to attract the attention of visitors to the city, there is nothing that could be considered specifically touristy in nature. You’ll find locals and visitors enjoying the offerings of the city centre in equal measure. In this quality, you will find the charm of the city.
Get Lost Without Being Lost
It’s often said that the best way to get to know a place is to get lost in it; of course, not everyone will agree with that sentiment. Fortunately, Brno’s centre is not tremendously difficult to navigate. All major roads lead into Freedom Square and the square’s distinctive triangular shape will help you to orient your map properly.
The self-guided tourist has a good bit of flexibility in how they can construct a walking tour of Brno’s centre. As there are several churches in the vicinity as well as the city’s cathedral, each with their own charms, a walking tour themed on them is certainly one option.
If you like architecture, you will find a variety of styles in the centre; Functionalist, Classicist, Baroque and Gothic to name a few.
To get more ideas, the city’s tourist information centre is located in the Old Town Hall on Radnická street.
A Slice of Life
There is always activity of one sort or another to take in, particularly through the spring and summer months. Brno hosts festivals along with annual events like the popular Museum Night and the city’s half marathon, much of which takes place in the centre.
Brno does have its own selection of buskers, typically found on either Masarykova Street or the shop lined Česká Street. Their quality, style and instruments are quite variable, but they all lend an atmosphere to a walk through the area.
If you’re at all a people watcher and like nothing better than to calmly sit and watch the city go by while you enjoy a drink, you are in luck. Many of Brno’s restaurants, cafes and pubs have outdoor seating through the spring and summer that you can use to indulge your passion.
If open air markets are your thing, the colours and bustle of Brno’s centuries old vegetable market really should not be missed.
Kick Back and Relax
After putting in the leg work of guiding yourself around the area, you’ll likely want to give your legs a break, the good news is that you won’t have to go far to do just that; the centre of the city has plenty of greenspace for you to take a break in.
At the north end of the centre is Moravian Square with lots of space to sit on a bench or the grass in either full sun or the shade of one of the several trees that border the square. It’s not at all unusual to see an event of some sort taking place there.
If you’re looking for something a bit more intimate; Denisovy Sady, at the south west corner of the center on Petrov hill, is just the ticket. Overlooking the Staré Brno district, this is a small and quiet park at the foot of the cathedral. In the early evening it’s a very good spot to take in a sunset.
Discovering the Details
Along with the city’s other qualities, Brno’s centre brings across the unpretentious nature of the town and people. People don’t live in or visit Brno to be seen; in that spirit, not everything that might be attractive for the visitor to see is overtly advertised.
A good example of this is the courtyard of the New Town Hall. To look at the exterior of the building on any given weekday, with the square in front of it filled with parked cars, you’d never guess there was any reason to enter the building unless someone told you about the courtyard within.
It’s but one of Brno’s subtleties that is easy to miss, but really shouldn’t be.
Getting the Most from the Centre
As stated before, the self guided visitor has a lot of flexibility in how they can see and experience Brno’s centre.
This link will show you a map of the general area:
This link to the city’s official tourism portal will give you information about several Brno landmarks, many of them in the city centre: