Olomouc

Town Hall & Holy Trinity Column on the main square of Olomouc

Olomouc (Olomóc or Holomóc in the local dialect, Olmütz in German) has the second largest and second oldest historic preservation zone in the Czech Republic (after Prague). Olomouc lies astride the Morava River and is surrounded by the fertile Haná plain. It was the capital of Moravia until 1641 and is the fifth-largest city in the country, with approximately 99,500 inhabitants.

Understand

The first written mention of a settlement at Olomouc is almost 1,000 years ago when the Kosmas Chronicle described a fortified castle watching over the important Morava river ford on the road between Kraków and Prague. Between 16th and 19th centuries, Olomouc served as a strategically important fortress. The city today is the seat of the regional government, the Moravian archbishopric and the oldest university in Moravia, Palacky University (Universita Palackého).

Legend claims that the city was founded by Julius Caesar. It's unlikely that Caesar actually visited in person, but it is known that the city was originally a Roman military camp with the name Julii Mons (Julius' Hill). This name was gradually corrupted to its present form, Olomouc - which is pronounced 'Olo-mowts'. The Roman influence is a proud heritage of the city, and manifests itself in numerous areas.

Olomouc is doubtless the undiscovered gem of the Czech Republic. It is home to countless beautiful buildings, great culture (home of the Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra), and hundreds of unique restaurants, bars, and pubs. Olomouc is totally off the radar of most tourists, feeling quietly normal and relaxed even on a nice day in July.

As the home to Palacky University, Olomouc is the country’s largest student city by percentage of population. Palacky University (named after František Palacký, the most influential figure of the Czech National Revival in the 19th Century) is one of the largest and most prestigious universities in the country and only Charles’ University in Prague has a longer history. During the academic year, the population of the city is increased by roughly 20,000 students, giving the city a vibrant feeling of life and energy. This is important to remember if you want to enjoy the thriving nightlife of the city - many bars and clubs depend on the student population and close for the summer vacations.

Olomouc has been the seat of the Catholic Archbishop for almost 1,000 years, and thus has some of the most beautifully decorated churches in Central Europe - though they will not appear in many travel guides.

Get in

By train

Fast trains (category R) are useless at this route, they're slower and cost the same as IC/EC.

Regular fare is 324 Kč, second person in a group (of 2 or more) pays 195, extra people pay 162 Kč, SporoTiket is 190 Kč.

Beware that apart from these, there are trains Brno–Olomouc via Břeclav and the journey would be 2 hours longer.

Beware of some fast trains (category R) from Ostrava to Olomouc, they go longer way through Jeseníky mountains for more than 3 hours.

Long distance trains stop at Olomouc hlavní nádraží (Olomouc Main station).

By bus

Student Agency operates buses between Prague and Olomouc, but they are much slower than trains, because their route leads all the way down to Brno before turning up towards Prague.

Get around

Tram stop in Olomouc

The Olomouc city centre is best explored on foot. Its historic center is charming and it offers many opportunities for pleasant walks.

Public transportation is cheap and easy to use. Ticket machines stand at every major bus and tram stop and tickets are also available from newspaper kiosks. A single trip ticket costs 14 Kč. See a city line map and online timetable

Integrated Transport System of Olomouc Region (IDSOK) provides an extensive network of local trains (category Os and Sp) and buses in the whole region. Olomouc region is divided into zones, and the ticket price depends on number of passed zones. Zone 71 (Olomouc city) has a special tariff, described above.

Taxis gather in the carpark at the front of the train station, and the ride from there to the centre should be between 100-150 Kč. The free-call number is +420 800 223 030.

See

Astronomical clock

Olomouc is an exploring sightseer's paradise. A good place to begin is the main square (Horní náměstí or 'Upper Square'), with its huge Town Hall and the Holy Trinity Column (the largest column in Europe), which was enscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2000. It is the second largest historical square in the Czech Republic. Don't miss the astronomical clock on the Town Hall. It is said to once have rivalled the beauty of Prague's, but was seriously damaged in the WWII and then rebuilt and repainted at the beginning of the Communist regime to reflect worker's values.

Upper square

The   Upper Square (Horní náměstí) is the main square of Olomouc, a beautiful place full of history where you can find some of the most important monuments:

Churches and monasteries

St Michael's church
Hradisko monastery

Palaces

Museums and galeries

Fountains

Arion fountain

Parks and gardens

The   greenhouses are behind the Flora exhibition complex; near where the footbridge goes over the main road to connect the two parks together. The main tropical greenhouse also holds large aquariums and terrariums with a range of alligators, snakes, piranhas, and large furry spiders.

Others

Do

City walls of Olomouc

Events

Eat

Traditional cuisine

Olomoucké tvarůžky, local cheese

The traditional cuisine of Olomouc and the surrounding Haná region is an excellent example of Czech cuisine. In addition to more common Czech dishes, it includes some unique local specialties. One of the best known culinary products of the area is the local cheese Olomoucké tvarůžky (also called Olomoucké syrečky). This is a traditional (since 15th century) Czech ripened soft cheese with very low fat content, pungent taste and strong odor. The cheese is named after the city of Olomouc, but is produced in Loštice, a small city about 30 km away. Although the cheese is commonly available in stores around the country (and often consumed raw, usually with some beer), you have to visit Haná region to find dishes based on this cheese on restaurant menus. For example, the cheese can be used as a filling in a local variety of Cordon Bleu, or it can be served fried. The dishes containing this cheese can usually be recognized by the word Loštické in their names. Because of the strong odor, do not be surprised when you find some mint sweets (Hašlerka) on your plate.

Garlic soup (česnečka) is available all around the country. The garlic soup of the Haná region (Hanácká česnečka) is one of the best varieties and is usually very strong. If olomoucké tvarůžky are added, the soup is called Loštická česnečka. Because of the combined might of garlic and the strong ripened cheese, it is not recommended if you plan to kiss someone that evening :) On the other hand, garlic is very healthy and you should get some česnečka if you have cold or sore-throat.

Hanácký koláč is the typical sweet cake of the region.

Restaurants

There are dozens of excellent restaurants in the city, and most have English menus. Local favorites include Cafe Caesar, which is in the renaissance Town Hall Building on the main square. Hanacka Hospoda and U Kasny are more traditional Moravian Restaurants, and are located in the nearby lower square. On Marianska Ul. is the Svatovaclavsky Pivovar which is a non-smoking microbrewery with indoor and outdoor seating and a comprehensive menu of local specialties.

Drink

Mineral water

Hanácká kyselka is a well known natural mineral water of the region. It is healthy and has a refreshing taste. It is a good choice if you do not want to drink alcohol.

Wine

Wine is the lifeblood of Moravia. Look into any ‘vinarna’ (wine bar) or ‘Vinný sklep’ (wine cellar) and you’ll see an array of characters partaking of the nectar of the vines. Most vineyards are in South Moravia but that has no affect on the drinking abilities of northern Moravians. You can buy good Moravian wine for a picnic from a vinny sklep in plastic bottles that you either bring yourself or you can find there.

If anyone has told you that Moravian wine is inferior to French or German wine, don’t believe them. The taste and aroma of Moravian wines vary from their Western European cousins because they are made from totally different varieties of grapes. Svatovavrinecké is a strong, drier red wine, Modrý Portugal is a medium dry and Frankovka is a sweeter red wine. Good white wines are Muller Thurgau and Veletinské.

Beer

The best beer in Olomouc is available from one of the Microbreweries making their own beer on the premises.

Bars

Cafés

Sleep


Budget

You can find really cheap accommodation in the student dorms in the outer suburb of Neredin, between the airport and the cemetery. There are always a few vacant rooms. Unfortunately there is not much information in English about the dorms, but the tourist information office should be able to help.

Midrange

There are several hotels in the city; Hotel Flora, Hotel Lafayette, Hotel Sigma and Hotel Gemo have been around for years, and the Alley Business Hotel is the new kid on the block.

Connect

The mobile network (GSM/GPRS) covers the whole city. If you are coming from a non-GSM standard country (e.g. North America) check your mobile phone for GSM compatibility.

Go next

The Church on Svaty Kopecek
Vykleky Quarry
Bouzov Castle
Helfštýn castle ruins

Olomouc is an ideal base for daytrips into the Moravian countryside. Within an hour’s travel by car, bus, train or bicycle there are castles, cave complexes, natural reserves and well-preserved historic towns, including some on the UNESCO world–heritage list.

An enjoyable way of exploring the Olomouc region is by bike. You can rent a bike at the Main Railway station for 150 Kč/day and follow one of many well marked bicycle tracks. Especially good times to visit are Spring, when there are carpets of white flowers everywhere; and Autumn when the birch, linden, ash, oak and maple trees begin to change. Maps of cycling trails are available from tourist information, news stands and bookstores.

Closest to Olomouc and suitable even as half-day trips are Svatý Kopeček (Holy Hill), the Litovelské Pomoraví [cs.wikipedia.org/wiki/Litovelské_Pomoraví] protected natural reserve and the swimming holes at Poděbrady and Výkleky.

The castles, caves and historic towns are further afield and will require a vehicle or the use of public transport.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Saturday, September 12, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.