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marianne Brno - A travel report by Marianne
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Brno,  Czech Republic - flag Czech Republic -  Jihomoravsky Kraj
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marianne's travel reports

Traveller in Brno

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Brno is the second largest city of the Czech republic. The compact centre with large squares, fine churches and beautifully restored houses is a pleasue for the eye.


Capuchin Monastry
Capuchin Monastry
True to say Brno is less photogenic than Prague, but it is also less crowded and away from the standard tourist route. The city is worth a visit, if only to see the mummies in the crypt of the Capuchin Monastry.

The City Centre is compact and has comparatively few sights, most can be seen in one day. If you want to include Villa Tugendhat, a villa built in functionalist style a second day is needed.

The Tourist Information Centre opposite the train station was very helpful in finding accommodation.



WALKING TOUR

START: Svobody Namesti (square)

Pedestrianized Svobody Namesti is the heart of the city and bustling with people. The Plague Column in the middle dates back to 17th cent. These columns are found all over central Europe and commemorate plague epidemics, their victims and survivors.

The square is surrounded by buildings with a variety of archtectural styles. My favourite is the building whose façade is adorned by four larger than life-size figures each holding up the building with one hand while with the other hand they hold up their underpants.

Turn into Masarykova, a shopping street that leads to the train station. Take the 6th street on your right. It leads to Kapucinske Namesti and the Capuchin Monastry whose main attraction is some 150 mummies.

They were not embalmed but the conservation method was a natural one. There are some 50 ventilation vents in the crypt so that there is a slight draught which dried the dead bodies and preserved them.


Favourite spots:
Holding uo their underpants
Holding uo their underpants
The crypt was first and foremost reserved to bury Capuchin monks, but Capuchin supporters and donators were also buried here. One of them is a noblewoman who was most likely buried alive because she lies in a cramped position with distorted arms and legs.

If the city was struck by the plague or another infectuous disease the dead were buried straight away without waiting 3 days to be sure of clinical death. This nobelwoman was probably deep unconscious which was recognised as death. Judging from the position she is in, she must have woken up only to find out that she had been buried alive.

At the far end of the crypt behind a wrought-iron gate is a hall in which the monks were buried, or rather were aligned in two rows. They lay side by side fully dressed. Each has a brick as a headrest. Some still wear their capuchin hoods and habit with ropes. They were brought to the crypt in a coffin with a removable bottom. This way the coffin could be re-used for the next interment.

What's really great:
Gothic Portal and crooked turret
Gothic Portal and crooked turret
On leaving the crypt turn left to a large square named Zelny trh which means cabbage market. It is still a daily market for fruit and vegetables. The 17th cent fountain on the square was once filled with carp, especially at Christmas because carp is the traditional Czeck Christmas meal.

Turn into Radnicka on the north end of the square. On your left the the Old Town Hall. The entrance is through a Gothic portal with a crooked middle turret. This was the revenge of the artist because he was not paid the agreed amount of money.

Inside the porch is the Tourist Information Office. They have maps of Brno and information about sights and activities. Here we booked our guided tour to Villa Tugendhat for the next day as reservation is mandatory.

When you leave the tourist office look up at the ceiling in the archway. You will see a large stuffed crocodile suspended to the ceiling.


Sights:
Catedral od Peter and Paul in the background
Catedral od Peter and Paul in the background
Walk back to Zelny Trh and turn into Petrska (south west side of the square). This street will take you to the Cathedral of the saints Peter and Paul.

The inside is worth a peek for the 11-m high main altar with carved statues of Peter and Paul. We climbed the tower for views of the city. Halfway up is a museum with religious artefacts such as chasubles lovingly embroidered by nuns and gem-inlaid monstrances.

Turn left into Biskupska (continuation of Petrska), turn right at the traffic lights. You are now in Husova, a busy thoroughfare. Take the 2nd street on your left: Spilberk, which leads to Spilberk Castle.

The castle looks more like a military barracks than a fairy-tale castle. In the 19th cent and in WW II it was a prison and these days the Museum of Prison Life is in the vaults.The castle itself is the Brno City Museum with a permanent exhibition of the city's monuments and history. If pressed for time, give the castle a miss as it is not all that interesting.


Accommodations:
Pegasus Hotel
Pegasus Hotel
We stayed in Hotel Pegas, a 3-star hotel located withhin Brno's Old Town. From the train station, walk 500 metres north along Masarykova until you get to Namesti Svobody, a pedestrianised square.

Cross the square and take Ceska for a further 50 metres until you get to Jakubska, a narrow street on the right. Here you'll find Hotel Pegas. The hotel's name is not displayed at the entrance instead you will see 'Pivnice Pegas', Pegas Beerhouse. Take the lift the the first floor and the hotel.

The great assets of the hotel is that it is in a historic building, dating back to the 14th cent and the brewery in the beerhouse on the ground floor where we tasted 'Pivnice Pegas'. The brewery offers three traditional beers. Each brewed without the help of any chemical ingredients.

The hotel has 11 double rooms and three apartments, on the second and third floors. Our room and bathroom was small but perfectly adequate.

Nightlife:
Villa Tugendhat
Villa Tugendhat
If you are interested in architecture Villa Tugendhat is the place to visit. It is open to the public from Wednesday to Sunday, guided tours only. (see tips for more details).

Villa Tugendhat is a prime example of functionalist architecture. It was designed in 1929 by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, a famous German architect. Its design is one of the first open-plan houses and of such importance that it was added to Unesco's list of world heritage sites in 2001.

The villa is named after Fritz Tugendhat and a wedding present from his family who were owners of a Brno textile factory.

The street-facing front of the villa is made of milk-glass, has rounded walls and is hardly noticable and not attractive at all. The villa is built on a grassy slope, has three levels which can only be seen from the garden

Hangouts:
View from Spilberk
View from Spilberk
The villa has no traditional lay-out of rooms. There is one open space for living room, garden room, library, dining room, reception room and music room, yet they are separated from each other by partition walls, but still interconnected.

The wall facing the garden is one hugh window. The glass wall can be lowered and sinks into the basement. When the windows are lowered, the room appears to be even more spacious. Mies van der Rohe also designed the furniture but the furniture in the house are copies. Nothing of the original is left.

The Tugendhat family lived here only for 8 years. Just before WW II they left for Venezuela. During WW II the Gestapo moved in, after the war the Russian army. Then it served as a gymnasium and finally the City of Brno had offices in the villa.

The exterior is in bad repair. The biggest problem is the foundation: the house is slowly sliding down the hill.

No photos allowed inside. In the garden photos of the exterior are allowed.

Restaurants:
Haribol Restaurant
Haribol Restaurant

Czech cuisine is rich in meat. We are not really 'meat-lover' that's why we were very happy to find an Indian vegetarian restaurant, Haribol.

The set meal is a thali: rice accompanied by curried vegetables.


Restaurant Haribol is north of the centre on Lužánecká 4 and open from 11.00 am - 16.00 pm


Other recommendations:
Janacek Museum
Janacek Museum
Brno's city centre can easily be seen in one day. It is of medium interest. Yet we stayed another day to go to Janacek Museum and Villa Tugendhat.

The Leos Janacek Memorial Museum is at 14 Smetena, north of the city centre and open from 09.00–12.00 & 13.00-1600.

Janacek is one of the three big Czeck composers, the other two being Smetena and Dvorak. All three included 'musical nationalism' in their oeuvre which shows in the folk music they incorporated in their works.

Janacek was a conductor, composer and the founder of the Brno Academy of Music. He is best known for his operas: The Cunning Little Vixen, The Makropolos Case and From the House of the Dead.

The museum is the house where Janacek lived from 1910 to his death in 1928.It contains his study complete with grand piano and exhibits of his major works. We also watched a 45-min video about his life and works. I can highly recommend watching this as it gives a good insight in his life and music.


Published on Wednesday October 25th, 2006


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Mon, Apr 30 2012 - 06:58 AM rating by louis

Very informative report and the pictures are great.

Tue, Feb 13 2007 - 07:38 PM rating by travler

I found this was quite informing and very well written, Maam

Thu, Nov 02 2006 - 11:38 AM rating by magsalex

Great report..the usual high standard!

Thu, Oct 26 2006 - 08:58 AM rating by gloriajames

Great report! Thanks for sharing this gem with me! 5*

Wed, Oct 25 2006 - 05:02 PM rating by mistybleu

Marianne, another well thought out report, full of great informations.

Amanda

Wed, Oct 25 2006 - 03:10 PM rating by eirekay

Marianne, you set such a high standard! This is a terrific report - I love your walking tours!

Wed, Oct 25 2006 - 01:30 PM rating by davidx

This is the sort of report where a maximum of 5 feels like a real restriction. Not only is it excellent but it makes such a change to hear about somewhere in the Czech republic other than Prague, great as Prague is. Many thanks.

Wed, Oct 25 2006 - 11:17 AM rating by frenchfrog

Marianne, many thanks for your guided tour of the city Brno, this is another fantastic report,you provided fantastic informations about the city and gave me an idea of "where to go next!". Many thanks, what else to say but 5*, perfect report!

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