Olomouc (Olomouts) is quite a lovely small college town (100,000 people) in Northern Moravia, Eastern Czech Republic. We visited from Mikulov Wine Country on our way to see Pearl Jam in Prague. The town dates back to the 10th century and is the former capital of Moravia. The Swedes demolished the city during the 30 days war, moving the capital to nearby Brno. Today, Olomouc is a special place undiscoverd by tourists. Our timing was perfect because school had just recently let out for summer break.
The Poet’s Corner Hostel fit the town’s personality perfectly. Upon our arrival, a young Scottish man named Chris greeted us like new friends. He spent 30 minutes going over the town with detailed maps of places to see and things to do. The initial list of “to do’s” was huge! A few quirky sites jump to mind like the the old Russian War Plane Bar “Letka” and The Chapel of St. John Sarkander with a preserved medieval torture chamber. Of course, we were keen to have a proper Czech beer experience. Svatovaclavsky Pivovar Beer Hall was Chris’ top choice. There, we downed huge 1 liter hefeweizen (wheat beer) jugs….. with whatever veggie slop we could get our hands on!
We visited Letka bar our last evening in the dark. There was a private party going on, so we never saw the inside! No worries, The Frugal Flashpacker captured his time at Letka beautifully. Dobrá čajovna Tea House provided blue-green teas and berry flavored shisha.
Onto more historical things, Olomouc boasts six Baroque style fountains. Julius Caesar is the most noticable and legend says he founded Olomouc. The main square hosts Town Hall and the 1420′s astronomical clock. The clock has been reconstructed a few times over the years. The retreating Nazi’s sprayed bullets all over the clock during WWII. The socialist Russians replaced the clock with proletariat figures like farmers, scientists and everday workers. Our long walk ended in a beautiful park surrounded by the old city walls. We visited the St. Wenceslas Cathedral with its lovely neo-gothic facades dating back to 1141.
Our site-seeing highlight was climbing atop St. Moritz church. The tower structure must be like 25 meters tall. The spiral staircase climb proved to be quite the workout. About 2/3 up, we watched the old church bells. Wooden steps turned metal as we approached the roof. We popped open a flimsy plastic door and private panoramic views were in sight.
And last, but not least….. The St. John Sarkander torture chamber. Jan Sarkander was a local catholic priest at the time of the thirty years war. He was suspected by the newly Protestant authorities of trying to organise a Polish invasion to seize the country back for the Catholics. He was arrested, thrown in jail, and tortured until he eventually died. When the Catholics were back in power after the war, the jail was converted into a chapel in his memory. The original torture rack is preserved beneath the chapel with his gravestone. We took a picture showing his likely death.
We thoroughly enjoyed our time in Olomouc, especially roaming the tourist free cobblestone streets. It’s rare to find special places like this little city that are undiscovered and untainted by tourism. As we moved onto Prague, we prepared ourselves for the complete opposite with it’s tourism boom, particularly during the summer months.
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Olomouc, Czech Republic