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Monday, 20 Mar 2023

Brno - the City of Universities

Brno lies in the centre of the European continent, and is the second largest city in the Czech Republic. Brno also symbolically represents the heart of the province of Moravia, one of the historic lands of the Czech crown. It is situated at the crossroads of ancient trade routes which have joined the North and South European civilizations for centuries. Brno is a city with a definite cosmopolitan flavour and its lengthy and rather grand boulevards at times offer a distinctive Parisian atmosphere.

Brno is situated in a picturesque countryside, surrounded on three sides by wooded hills and opening to the Southern Moravian lowlands to the south of the city. In the north, the city is guarded by the foothils of the Drahany and Bohemian-Moravian ranges. Brno is also easy to get to by train from Prague, Vienna, and Bratislava.


To the north of Brno there is the protected area of the Moravian Karst (Moravský kras) and to the south stretch the Moravian vineyards with their typical wine cellars. The city is surrounded by beautiful mixed forests, which offer many opportunities for tourism and cycling. Brno prides itself on many notable historic sites that show evidence of its rich cultural history. Once established as a settlement of merchants eight centuries ago on the junctions of the rivers Svratka and Svitava, it withstood the pressure of both the Hussite and Swedish besiegement, witnessed Napoleon‘s military expedition to Slavkov, bore the cruel consequences of the Austrian defeat at the Battle of the Three Emperors, became an industrial centre of the Habsburg monarchy called "the Austrian Manchester" and, in the twentieth century, gained a character of a modern city thanks to the construction of new buildings in the functionalist style. The most important example of modern architecture in Brno is The Tugendhat Villa - a historic site inscribed on the UNESCO's World Cultural Heritage List.

Today Brno is a seat of universities and important judiciary institutions. Brno, with its universities -B.I.B.S., a.s. - Brno International Business School, Brno University of Technology, High Schooll of Karel Englis in Brno, Janacek Academy of Performing Arts in Brno, Masaryk University Brno, Mendel University of Agriculture and Forestry Brno, Newton College, a.s., Rasinova vysoka skola s.r.o., STING Academy, University of Defence, University Of Veterinary and Pharmaceutical Sciences Brno, is a typical student city. Students form ten percent of all Brno residents and thus markedly influence its prestige and atmosphere. That is why Brno is usually called a city of universities.

It offers many possibilities of cultural enjoyment in its numerous theatres, museums, cinemas and clubs. The Brno Exhibition Centre with its eighty-year tradition is a venue of many international trade fairs, exhibitions and congresses, and as such plays a significant role in the social and economic life of the whole city. The City of Brno regularly holds various cultural events, festivals (e.g. "Brno - City in the Centre of Europe" associated with a fireworks competition "Ignis Brunensis") as well as some notable sporting events (Brno Grand Prix of road motorcycles). Brno is also a city of modern shopping and entertainment centres.

Brno is also home to a number of interesting tourist attractions. For example:

Villa Tugendhat

This modernist landmark is an outstanding example of the international architectural style that flourished in the 1920s in Europe. The villae, designed by the architect Mies van der Rohe, has been restored to its original form, including the interior decorations. Because of its significant historic value and authenticity, it was lately added to UNESCO's World Heritage List.

Spilberk Castle

This imposing 13th-century castle dominates the skyline of Brno, and first served as a fortress and then as a prison for common criminals and opponents of the Hapsburg monarchy. Its builder, Czech King Přemysl Otakar II, approached it as a solid pillar of royal power as well as a seat for the rulers of Moravia, worthy of respect. Špilberk became the actual castle seat of the Moravian margraves only in the mid-14th century, under Jan Jindřich (1350-1375) and his son Jošt (1375-1411). This period, marked by the autonomous rule of the "Moravian" Luxembourgs, the brother and nephew of King Charles IV, lasted a mere six decades, but definitely constitutes the most significant and splendid, though least known, chapter in the history of the Brno castle. In 1783, Emperor Joseph II decided that Špilberk should no longer function as a fortress prison and that it should be converted into a civil prison intended for the most hardened criminals. Today, the castle holds the Brno City Museum and the casemates, and is visited by over 100,000 visiters each year.

Mendel Museum

The Mendel Museum is dedicated to the founder of the field of genetics and is located at the Augustine Abbey in the Old Town of Brno. Gregor Johann Mendel, an Augustinian friar, lived and worked from 1843 in Brno, in the Augustian Abbey, of which he became the abbot in 1867. The museum's exhibition goes beyond the romantic myth of the cloistered monk undertaking incongruous experiments with peas; it explores "Mendel the man," and what led to the formulation of his laws of heredity. The exhibition covers Mendel's background and the driving force behind his scientific endeavour; his research interests and the development of his method; and finally his experiments and discovery. The museum is also located on the site where Mendel conducted his pea experiments. The museum is open daily from 10am-6pm, and costs 80 CZK for adults.

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