The Czech Republic’s third largest city Ostrava, is situated where no fewer than four rivers (Lučina, Ostravice, Opava and Oder) meet. Ostrava is also pretty close to the border with Poland. Locally known as the “steel heart of the republic” due to its past and present industry and abundant top grade black coal seams in its vicinity. Many of the old factories are now closed down, with some serving as industrial museums.
Ostrava’s history goes back 25,000 years, as it was situated at crossroads on the ancient Amber Road. More recently, Silesian and Moravian Ostrava were mentioned in the 13th century, when a fortress straddling both banks of the Ostravice river was being built.
The discovery of huge black coal deposits in the 18th century led to an industrial boom and inrush of immigrants. This expansion continued into the next two centuries, with life quality also improving towards the end of this era. However, Ostrava was made into a bombing target during WWII, causing great destruction. Due to economics, many mines closed in the recent past.
Summer’s a good time to visit, if only for the “Colours of Ostrava” local and international music festival. Places worth visiting in Ostrava include Landek Park for its unique Mining Museum exhibition, the imposing 13th century gothic Silesian Ostrava Castle and the huge 1949-built Ostrava Zoo.
Ostrava’s museum, within the typical local style architecture Old Town Hall, has a unique intricate and ornate astronomical clock. A wonderful view of the city and the surrounding mountains can be had from the 72 metre tall New City Hall Viewing Tower. You can also take a tour through the Ostrava brewery and sample some traditional products at the 60 year old tap bar. For bars, clubs and nightlife, Ostrava’s Stodolní Street (and environs) is where it’s all happening.
Also worth visiting is the Miniuni, a unique collection of 1:25 scale models of prominent European architecture, skyscrapers, railways and various other models. Finally, the puppet theatre provides great entertainment for all ages.
Posted : Thursday, July 19th, 2012 at 10:00
As well as writing about travel, Karen Bryan offers tips on saving money, frugal living and how to live well on less, on her site Help Me To Save