Festival city Olomouc

ABOUT OLOMOUC

Olomouc is an academic city with a rich cultural tradition. It is the centre of the Olomouc Region and the historical capital of Moravia. There are around 110 000 residents living in the city, which makes it the 6th largest city in the Czech Republic. Olomouc is also the ecclesiastical metropolis and the seat of catholic archbishopric.

The whole historical centre is considered the second most significant monument area in the Czech Republic (after Prague). Dominant feature of the historical centre is the town hall with the very beautiful and unique astronomical clock.

The city of Olomouc is a very popular touristic destination and a centre of culture thanks to its historical atmosphere and many important events. It is the seat of the Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra and the Moravian Theatre. Traditionally the festival of documentary films called Academia Film Olomouc takes place in the city. Some of the other important cultural events are International Organ Music Festival, festival Colores Flamencos, international music festival Dvořákova Olomouc or Flora Theatre Festival. Very important part of the cultural life in Olomouc are events organised by Festa Musicale. The most important of them is the international choir competition Festival of Songs with more than 40-years tradition. Others are for example the festival of religious music Musica Religiosa and the new international Christmas choir festival Natale Festa Corale.

HISTORY

Olomouc was an important centre of the Great Moravian Empire during the 9th and in the early 10th century. Later it became for a long time the capital of the province of Moravia. The bishopric of Olomouc was founded in 1063 and raised to the rank of an archbishopric in the year of 1777.

In 1306 King Wenceslas III stopped here on his way to Poland and it was here, that he was assassinated. With his death the whole Přemyslid dynasty died out.

During the World War II. (1939–1945) most of the town’s German residents sided with the Nazis and the German-run town council renamed the main square after Adolf Hitler. The Czech residents changed the name back after the town was liberated in 1945.

When the retreating German army passed through Olomouc in the final weeks of the war, they opened fire on the town’s old astronomical clock, leaving only a few pieces intact (the rest of the authentic clock can be seen in the local museum).

In 1950s Communists reconstructed the astronomical clock but now it features a procession of proletarians rather than saints. Most of the German population of the city was expelled after the war.

THE HOLY TRINITY COLUMN

The Holy Trinity Column in Olomouc is a Baroque monument, built between 1716–1754 in the honour of God. The main purpose was to celebrate the Catholic Church and faith, partly in gratitude for ending a plague, which struck Moravia (now in the Czech Republic) between 1714 and 1716. It is the tallest sculptural group in the Czech Republic. In 2000 it was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List as “one of the most exceptional examples of the apogee of central European Baroque artistic expression”.

TOWN HALL


The most significant secular building in the city is the city hall, completed in the 15th century. It has a 75-metre tall Gothic-Renaissance tower with an astronomical clock.

BAROQUE FOUNTAINS


In Olomouc you can find eight beautiful fountains. They were preserved thanks to the cautious policy of the city council. While most European cities were removing old fountains after they had built their water supply piping, Olomouc decided to keep them as water reservoirs in case of fire. The oldest of them are the fountains depicting Neptune and Hercules from the 17th century. Then there are fountains of Jupiter, Mercury, Caesar, Dolphins and Tritons from the 18th century and finally the modern fountain of Arion from 2002.

CHURCHES


The most prominent church in Olomouc is the St. Wenceslas cathedral. It was rebuilt at the end of the 19th century in Neo-Gothic style, but it has kept many features of the older church, which had also been rebuilt many times (Romanesque crypt, Gothic cloister, Baroque chapels). Next to the cathedral is the Bishop’s Palace, a 12th century Romanesque building. Visiting the St. Maurice church, a beautiful Gothic building from the 15th century and the St. Michael church is also recommended. The Neo-Baroque chapel of St. John Sarkander stands on the place of a former town prison. Catholic priest John Sarkander was imprisoned here in the beginning of the Thirty Years’ War. Other churches to see: the Church of Our Lady of The Snows etc.

SIGHTSEEING RELATED TO MUSIC

W. A. Mozart’s memorial plaque remembering his stay in Olomouc during the smallpox epidemy in the 18th century. You can also visit G. Mahler’s house and last but not least the beautiful Engler’s organ located in the St. Maurice church.