Sunday, 24 June 2012



Ostrava is the third largest city in the Czech Republic and the second largest urban agglomeration after Prague. Located close to the Polish border, it is also the administrative center of the Moravian-Silesian Region. Ostrava was candidate for the title of European Capital of Culture 2015. Ostrava is located at the confluence of the Ostravice, Oder, Lučina and Opava rivers. Its history and growth have been largely affected by exploitation and further use of the high quality black coal deposits discovered in the locality, giving the town a look of an industrial city and a nickname of the “steel heart of the republic” during the communist era of Czechoslovakia. 

Ostrava was an important crossroads of prehistoric trading routes, namely the Amber Road. Archaeological finds have proved that the area around Ostrava has been permanently inhabited for 25,000 years. Circa 23,000 BC, the Venus of Petřkovice from Petřkovice in Ostrava, Czech Republic, was made. It is now in Archeological Institute, Brno. In the 13th century, the Ostravice river marked the border between the Silesian duchy of Opole and the March of Moravia under Bohemian suzerainty. Two settlements arose on both sides of the river: Slezská Ostrava (Silesian Ostrava) was first mentioned in 1229, Moravská Ostrava (Moravian Ostrava) in 1267, it received town privileges in 1279. The Piast dukes of Opole in 1297 built a fortress on their side of the river. Both parts were largely settled by Germans in the course of the Ostsiedlung.

Until the late 18th century, Moravská Ostrava was a small provincial town with a population around one thousand inhabitants engaged in handicraft. In 1763, large deposits of black coal were discovered, leading to an industrial boom and a flood of new immigrants in the following centuries. During the 19th century, several mine towers were raised in and around the city and the first steel works were established at Vítkovice, acquired by Salomon Mayer von Rothschild in 1843. Industrial growth was made possible by the completion of Kaiser-Ferdinands-Nordbahn from Vienna in 1847. The 20th century saw further industrial expansion of the city accompanied by an increase in population and the quality of civic services and culture. However, during World War II, Ostrava – as an important source of steel for the arms industry – suffered several massive bombing campaigns that caused extensive damage to the city.

Since the Velvet revolution in 1989 the city has been going through major changes. A thorough restructuring of industry is taking place – coal mining in the area of the city was stopped in 1994 and a large part of the Vítkovice ironworks near the city center was closed down in 1998. 

In such a big city the number of restaurants is naturally enormous, ranging from the very famous restaurants to the less expensive trattorie or pizzerie. Whether you are looking to enjoy classical Czech food, regional specialities or international cuisine, Ostrava has what you are looking for. A visit to the region would not be complete without a pint of the local beer, “Ostravar”, which has been brewed in the city since way back in 1897. The main street for wining, dining and having a great time is Stodolní Street, in the heart of the city. It boasts over 60 bars and restaurants in an area covering just a few blocks.

The development in university education, especially in humanities, significantly contributed to the recovery of cultural life in Ostrava after 1990. The need for mutual meetings, discussions and presentations of the first literary, artistic and musical attempts led to the creation of the cult club Black Spider (Černý pavouk). It quickly became a popular place for young Ostrava artists and intellectuals. Other “competing” clubs were founded nearby shortly afterwards and each of them provides for its own specific atmosphere. 
 Whether you are looking for a little jazz or rock, dance clubs, karaoke, casinos, bowling, billiards, or just a quiet place to have a drink, you’ll find it all on today’ s Stodolní Street. Known around the Czech Republic as the “Street that Never Sleeps”, Stodolní’s reputation is growing all over Europe.

                                                        Ostrava’s Top 5:
  1. The Cathedral of The Divine Saviour. The second largest cathedral in Moravia and Silesia (after the basilica in Velehrad) is one of the most beautiful churches in the city. The three-aisled Neo-Renaissance basilica is completed with a semicircle apse with two 67m-high towers from 1889 (according to a project by Gustav Merett). The interior is the work of Max von Ferstel. Pope John Paul II founded the Ostrava-Opava diocese in May 1996, and in September of the same year, the basilica was upgraded to a cathedral. Since 1998, it has been equipped with a Neo-Baroque organ. It is often used as a venue for concerts, enhancing the musical experience with its acoustics and atmosphere.
  2. Silesian Ostrava Castle is a castle in Ostrava. It was originally built in the 1280s near the confluence of the Lučina and Ostravice rivers. The castle was built for military purposes due to its proximity to the Polish border. In 1534, the gothic castle was rebuilt into a renaissance chateau. It burned down in 1872 but was rebuilt. It was restored recently after many years of dilapidation, caused by coal mining under the castle. Today, the castle is one of the most important tourist attraction of the city.
    The castle held the Colours of Ostrava festival in 2007.
  3. The Viewing Tower of the New City Hall The Viewing Tower is one of the city's most popular tourist attractions. On a clear day, it is possible to see the entire city, the nearby Beskydy Mountains, and even neighbouring Poland. The Viewing Tower has dominated the Ostrava skyline since it was built at the New City Hall (the largest in the Czech Republic) in 1930. The strict functionalist style of the tower creates, in the opinion of its designers, a noble beacon of concrete, metal and glass. The tower reaches 298.05 metres above sea level, or roughly 85.60 metres above ground level. The tower is equipped with an illuminated clock face, an elevator, and a lookout deck 72 metres above the ground. The Ostrava City Information Centre, located directly beneath the tower, provides all sorts of information about the city, in several languages.
  4. Antonín Dvořák Theatre in Ostrava is one of the opera houses in the Czech Republic. It is a part of the National Moravian Silesian Theatre, founded in 1918. The
    Neo-baroque building of the theatre was designed by architect Alexander Graf, realisation was made by Ostrava company Noe & Storch. Antonín Dvořák Theatre was the first building in Czechoslovakia using reinforced concrete beams. The interior was designed by sculptors of the Johann Bock & son company. The sculptures decorating the facade made Eduard Smetana and Leopold Kosiga. Drama and Music, two reliefs in the main foyer of the theatre, were donated by academic sculptor Helena Scholzová alias Helen Zelezny-Scholz. Antonín Dvořák Theatre was opened on 28 September, 1907, as German theatre. Up to 1919, the performances were solely German. Following the World War I, the theatre passed to the hands of Czechoslovak state and became a stage of the National Moravian Silesian Theatre. From 1949, the theatre was renamed to Zdeněk Nejedlý Theatre and in 1990 to Antonín Dvořák Theatre.
  5. The Ostrava museum was established by merging three older local museums in the Old Post-Office building after World War One. Since 1931 it occupies the Old Town Hall in Masaryk Square, the oldest existing example of original historic architecture typical of Ostrava's city core. On display are local history of Ostrava and a couple of other theme shows. Its singular feature and pride item is the 225 cm (88.58 in) tall indoor astronomical clock called the Mašek Clock. It boasts 51 different functional features and consists of four dials: clock, calender, astronomical and planetary dials.
Silesian Ostrava Castle

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