Monday, 15 October 2018

Brno, Czech Republic

10 - 12 June.

The morning of the 10 June, saw us saying farewell to our travelling companions as we disembarked the Monarch Queen in Budapest. A short taxi drive saw us safely delivered to Keleti Station where we met up with Frank's friend Nic. Nic lives in Geneva, and we always manage to rendezvous with him somewhere on any of our European travels. Our first destination together was Brno, the second largest city in the Czech Reoublic. A city I knew little of and wasn't overenthused to be visiting.

That quickly changed on our arrival. Wonderful architexture, wide, traffic free, cobbled streets and a noticeable absence of tourists. Brno is a university city of 90,000 students with many coming from neighbouring countries. They bring with them their cultures, festivals and parades. The university year had just been completed. Graduates were out celebrating but did nothing to destroy the relaxed, friendly atmosphere we were enjoying.

Our train to Brno initially followed the Danube, where we had sailed 2 days previously. We had seen little then, because of the heavy rain falling. Sadly for 2 of my hiking friends sailing here as I write, [Jenny and Margot] the Danube water level is so low that they have been bussed from Budapest to Vienna, I assume along this road. Six of their 14 day cruise will be by bus.

We were bemused by the herdsman's casual concern for his sheep grazing beside the line. No workplace, health and safety laws here.

Our accommodation was very central, and just around the corner from Liberty Square.

Late afternoon, the area around the fountain becomes a free 'beach' area.

The black granite bullet on one side of the square quickly caught our eye. It is actually a "black obelisk and refers to a significant event in the history of the city. It is a symbol of the resistance and bravery of the people of Brno. During peacetime, it measures the flow of time."

The time is measured by two upper stone pieces rotating continulously. An ageless method, I believe. Gear wheels move the stone and glass piece and the stainless steel dislpay. At exactly 11am all the revolving pieces align to form a symbolic ball that appears in one of 4 release holes. The time 11 am is of historical significance. I hope you can read the info I have recorded in the photo below. I think its worth increasing the viewing size.

And what about the hearts you ask? Well, we asked the same question when we returned the following day to sea the ball released at 11am. Alas, luck wasn't with us and the Chronometer had failed. It was wrapped up until someone qualified could be recruited to make the expensive repairs.

Brno views

The view up and down the main square or Produce Market.

Monday was market day.

The town hall tower.

13th C Cathedral of St Peter and St Paul.

It always pays to remember to look up...............

in 1767, Mozart aged 11, played a concert in Brno's Reduta Theatre, seen here in the background.

Spot the ants on the yellow wall.

It's also worth peeking in through windows.
Merry Goose, theatrical pub.

Lots of interesting and curious sculptures to be found.

LHS - Wire light bulbs in memory of Thomas Edison. RHS - Memorial to the Resistance.

This equestrian statue [2015], is a "tribute to Jobst Moravia and is an allorgory to courage. The eight metre high bronze statue, depicts a knight on a horse with unusually long legs." It is not only controversial re its concept, but also for the view that visitors queue to see.

Delightful water features in the Market Square.

The Church of St James has the largest ossuary in Europe after Paris, but is also famed for the 'Indecent Little Man'.

"There are two legends attributed to the little man, both involving the competition between the Church of St. James and the Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul on nearby Petrov Hill. 
The first is that the two churches, each financed by a family from either side of town, were about to be finished. The spires of the two churches both towered high, but St. James’ ended up being taller by roughly 30 feet. The naked man and his bottom were added on as a middle finger from the winning church to the losing one.
The second story is that the financiers of the Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul were jealous of their competitors because, though Petrov Hill was a wealthier part of town, the stonemason on the Church of St. James was one of Europe’s finest. In addition to his skill, he was an efficient and well-liked labourer, and as such work on St. James was going considerably faster than on the cathedral. Using power, influence, and money the lords of Petrov Hill were able to remove the stonemason from his position at St. James’, but not before he finished one final window. This, of course, was the one bearing the indecent little man, spreading his cheeks toward Petrov Hill for as long as the church stands.

Some historians claim that both these stories are apocryphal, and that the rude sculpture is merely a strange but not uncommon piece of Gothic adornment. You choose which story you prefer."

Note the crooked spire on the Town Hall - result of an unpaid sculptor.

Spilberk Castle, 13th C royal castle of Czech Kings.
In the 17th C it was known as the fearful Prison of Nations, under the Habsburg monarchy.

Views from its tower.

Church of Finding the Holy Cross, 1665, a part of the Capuchin Monk Monastery.
The crypt beneath was used solely for the tombs of the Friars.

"The sophisticated system of vents in the walls of the tomb allowed the deceased bodies to be dried naturally and gradually, thus mummified without any embalming. Today, 41 of the original 205 people who were buried in the crypt have been preserved. It was used as a tomb until 1784, when Emperor Joseph II banned this method of burials."

Above L - Relics of Saint Clementiane

Walking along yet another fascinating street, we entered this unusual place of worship. On entry there are only a few pews and then a large, ornately decorated crypt. Immediately behind are a few more pews confronted by eye catching and unfathomable staircase to the altar. 
Research explained that this is a small part of a monastic complex and the 'Holy Stairs' in this 'Holy House', are an imitation of the Holy Stairs tread by Jesus in Pontius Pilates Palace.

Bottom R is the monastic church of St John, 1257, nestled next door to the Holy House.

Vytopna Railway Restaurant - what an unusual, ingenious, fun concept for a restaurant. And the burgers were d e l i c i o u s !

My septuagenarians didn't seem out of place in this line up of relics!

Celebrating this milestone together. 
Nic's was in January and Frank's a few days prior.

On our 1st night we tried the local menu.
Divine apple strudel, beef with thick brown sauce, cranberries and dumpling bread, pesto chicken on sweet potato.

On our last evening we took a lift to the rooftop bar of the House of Lords of Lipa, for predinner drinks. It didn't appear to have any political alliance other than to be very Bohemian in decor and to be the haunt of students.

We then set off to find the local, famous creperie, highly recommended by our, free walking tour, guide. It is still to be found but the menu at the Cosmopolis Greek Grill was a winner.
The carafe of wine arrived in a large metal cup. 

Finally, as we departed Brno by rail, for Bratislava, I rather enjoyed the bold architicture of the Letmo Shopping Centre, completed in 2014, 

An unexpected 'wow' few days here in Brno. Can Bratislava live up to its expectations?

I would love to read your comment.


  1. Aw Helen, how grateful I am for these posts. Brno may lack some vowels, but it doesn't lack for everything I've ever thought of has the charm of a great European city. I want one of those burgers RIGHT NOW!

    1. Thanks Bill. Even though the blog is in part a diary for me, your apprecaiation makes finding the time to put it together worthwhile.
      Their lemon drinks were extremely refreshing as well.

  2. Your trip reports continue to be amazing. You travel to some of the most interesting places! I had to chuckle about the "cheeky" church statue!

    1. Thanks Linda. We are very fortunate to travel somewhere new each year.
      Until I did a google search as I wrote this post, we were under the impression the 'cheeky statue ' was male /female, which was weird for a church.

  3. Europe overwhelms me with its history and beauty.

  4. I've read that many of these eastern European cities are well worth visiting as well as the better known ones like Budapest. As I've said many times, so many places to see and not enough time!

    1. Yep, too many places. Not enough time. One can only begin to scratch the surface and keep hoping to win the lottery.

  5. You definitely found some "interesting" statues on this particular trip. And I am hungry after seeing the spectacular food photos! Thanks for sharing another wonderful journey.

    1. Thanks Kim. It's interesting to see the styles of sculptures that are now evolving. Some completely odd but in the main incredibly creative.

  6. Wow, you get around. I find those mummies rather creepy.

    1. They were rather. So difficult to comprehend the length of time that they have just been lying there. What was each one's story?
      We didn't have time to visit the ossuary of the Church of St James. 50000 interred, row upon row.

  7. I must say I was surprised to read that in the beginning you weren't very interested to see Brno. :) I have the impression that the Czech Republic is one of the most beautiful countries in the world and its towns are enchanting.
    Once more I found the churches and the food especially interesting. :)
    Thank you for the fascinating tour! xx

    1. PS One of the bloggers I follow is just "back from Australia". :)