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Last updated : Nov 2009
Moravia
Moravia - TravelPuppy.com
Brno is the capital of Moravia and dates back to the 13th century. It is home to the fine Moravian Museum, an important Augustinian Monastery where the geneticist Mendel was Abbot, the Capuchin Church with its mummies, and the Gothic Špilberk Castle. A large number of trade fairs take place in the Brno Exhibition Centre.

To the northeast is the Moravsky krás, an area of great limestone caves around Blansko. To the northwest the Gothic castle of Pernstejn is closest to most people’s idea of what a medieval castle should look like; the hour-long train journey to it up the Svratka Valley is an nice trip.

Southwest of Brno, three towns that stand out as tourist locations: Moravsky Krumlov with its Mucha Gallery including pictures, such as ‘Slovanska epopej’ (The Slav Epic), Slavkov (Austerlitz), near the Napoleonic battlefield, and Bucovice, whose castle houses the remarkable zajeci sal (The Hall of Hares) with murals of hares revenging themselves on dogs and men.

In the Vysocina (Bohemian-Moravian Uplands) to the east, the towns of Telc (a UNESCO Cultural Heritage Site) and Slavonice are perhaps the most perfect examples of Renaissance towns in Europe. Telc, including the Zamec (Castle), was completely rebuilt after a fire in 1530; medieval arcades surround the town square with its gabled houses. Slavonice is another town founded on silver mining.

In Zdar nad Sazavou about 40km or 25 miles northeast of Jihlava, the Cistercian monastery and pilgrimage church dedicated to Jan Nepomucky (St John of Nepomuk) was designed by Giovanni Santini, one of the greatest artists of the Czech Counter-Reformation, who married Gothic and Baroque forms, often with a humour lacking in other architects. Nearby in Ostrov nad Oslavou he designed a pub shaped like the letter ‘W’ to honour a fellow architect, and the town church at Obyctov, shaped like a turtle, one of the Virgin Mary’s more obscure symbols.

The area between the wine-making towns of Lednice and Valtice was once a possession of the Grand Dukes of Liechtenstein. Several impressive castles, parks and structural follies are dotted over an area of 250 sq km or 96 sq miles, separated by numerous ponds and forests.

To the west, the area between Znojmo and Vranov on the River Dyji (Thaya in German) is an untouched river valley, now a joint National Park on both sides of the Austrian border. Northeast of Brno, Kromeriz (accessible as a day trip from Prague) is a beautifully preserved Baroque town; its Bishop’s Palace includes an important art collection (including paintings from the auction after the execution of the English Charles I), and water gardens which run down to the banks of the Morava river.

Despite many ecological disaster zones and the industrial centre of Ostrava, northern Moravia has much to offer the traveller. Olomouc, now recovered from its era as a Soviet garrison, is again an attractive university town noted as much for its parks as for its Baroque churches, sculptures and fountains.

The surrounding Haná area is agricultural, with many villages having attractive harvest festivals in September. In the very north, the Jeseniky Mountains are an eastern extension of the Bohemian Krkonose. Lazne Jesenik is one of the famous Czech Silesian spas founded in the 19th century; this area is great for hiking, with rocky outcrops, cave systems and monuments.

To the east of Ostrava, the hilly Beskydy region (extending through Poland into the Ukraine) is the area of the Vlachs (Wallachs), whose culture survives in folklore and architecture. This area is great for hiking and winter sports. The open-air skansen (Folk Museum) at Roznov pod Radhostem, began in 1925 and is the largest in the country; another good skansen is at Velke Karlovice. Valchs architecture can be found to the south in the villages in the Vsetinska Becva valley, including Bzove, Jezerne and Ratkov.