Brno is the heart of South Moravia, its capital and the second-largest and the second most populated city of the Czech Republic. It is located in the southeast of the Czech Republic at the confluence of the rivers Svratka and Svitava. It is the centre of industry and trade strategically located in Central Europe with an excellent accessibility. It provides connections to the motorways, extensive railway network and international airport. The city is the place of business of many Czech and international companies.
Brno has became a dynamically developing centre of industry, trade, science, information technologies, research and innovation with business incubators and centers of science in the private and public sectors. Some of the research centres have linkages with local universities. There are fourteen universities containing thirty four faculties and three university campuses in Brno. It is also proud to have one of the best-equipped observatories in the world.
Optimally located in the heart of Europe and with extensive range of accommodation facilities, Brno is a popular destination for both exhibition and congress tourism, as well as for company events. Brno is an important trade fair city also thanks to the premises of the Brno Exhibition Centre, where domestic and international exhibitions, congresses and fairs are organised during the year. The Brno Exhibition Centre is one of the most famous trade fair complexes in the world since 1928. In terms of architecture the Brno Exhibition Centre is one of the most unique functionalist buildings that you can see in Brno.
Tugendhat Villa is also a functionalist work which is the only building of modern architecture in Brno listed on the UNESCO heritage sites. Tugendhat Villa was designed by the architect Mies van der Rohe for the married couple of Fritz Tugendhat and Greta Tugendhat, formerly Löw Beer. Greta’s father owned Löw Beer Villa situated in the city part Černá pole near Tugendhat Villa.
The dominant sight of the city is Špilberk castle. Even from a distance you cannot overlook the hill overgrown with greens and with the mighty castle at the top of it. Due to the location in the centre of the city, Špilberk castle is the venue of celebrations, festivals and theatre performances. Another castle of Brno is Veveří castle which towers above the Brno Reservoir. Veveří castle is a popular destination due to its location which allows you to combine a visit of the castle with a boat trip.
You can visit some of the other sights such as the Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul whose bells strike midday at eleven o’clock in Brno. It serves as the reminder of the year 1645 when Brno was the only city in Moravia which resisted the Swedish siege during the Thirty Years’ War. On the basis of the legend, after one hundred and twelve days of the siege the Swedes decided to withdraw if the city does not fall till twelve o’clock. The defenders however tolled midday an hour earlier and Brno was not conquered. The pride and the resilience of the city is commemorated by the cartridge shaped Clock sculpture located in the Freedom Square that every day at eleven o’clock plays a carillon melody. In the Freedom Square which has kept its triangular shape to this day you can see also the House of the Lords of Lipá, one of the most beautiful renaissance Brno houses or early Baroque Plague Pillar.
There is the Old Town Hall near the Freedom Square decorated by the Gothic portal with a twisted middle Pinnacle (turret). Based on a legend, Pinnacle should be as straight as the behaviour of councillors, who refused to pay to the stonemason’s master Anton Pilgram for the construction of the portal. The Old Town Hall has another legend as well. In the passage of the Old Town Hall you can see the so-called Brno Dragon whom knight Albert Trut brought to the Prince Ulrich as a gift. The prince let the dragon be hung in the chamber of the Old Town Hall so everybody can view the dragon.
There are headquarters of two important cultural institutions of the state in Brno – Moravian Gallery and Moravian Museum which is the oldest museum in the Czech Republic. Brno is also the centre of the Czech judiciary. The Supreme Public Prosecutor’s Office, the District Court Brno-venkov, the Municipal Court of Brno and the Regional Court are also located there. There are also three supreme judicial institutions, i.e. the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Administrative Court and the Supreme Court.
Bratislava, the capital as well as the largest city of the Slovak Republic is one of the youngest capitals in Europe. The city is located on both banks of the Danube river in the south-west part of the country. Bratislava is an important traffic junction with connections to highways, several railway lines and the Bratislava Airport. The Danube river is also used for both personal and cargo shipping.
There are several industrial enterprises and software companies operating in Bratislava, located mainly in the business centres on the outskirts of the metropolis. On the other hand, a few major companies and the banking sector are concentrated in the city centre due to newly built administrative and commercial complexes and high-rise buildings.
The dominant sight of the city is the Bratislava Castle rising above the Danube which is also one of the most popular tourist spots in the city. The most distinct building of the Castle is undoubtedly the Castle Palace which forms the panorama of the city. Between 2008 and 2014, a significant reconstruction of the Castle took place. The Castle currently serves as the representative seat of the National Council of the Slovak Republic and there are also exhibitions of the Slovak National Museum.
The Slovak National Museum is a science and cultural-educational institution whose largest building is located on the Danube embankment, where the permanent natural science exposition and the headquarters of the Slovak National Museum, which uses the building also for exhibition purposes, are located. The Bratislava City Museum, located in the building of the Old Town Hall right in the middle of the city, is devoted to the history of Bratislava. In the city centre, there is also the Michael’s Gate, the seat of the Exhibition of Weapons of Bratislava City Museum. The Michael’s Gate is the only preserved gate of historical city fortifications dating from the 14th century. The 51-meter high tower, from which upper terrace the view of the Castle and the Old Town can be seen, is also a part of the Michael’s Gate. To the right of Michael’s Gate, there is the house No. 15 as well, which is the narrowest house in Europe with its width of 1.3 meters.
Most of the sights including several palaces are in the city centre. The Primacial palace was built as the seat of archbishop of Esztergom. The palace is constructed in classicist style, the wall is decorated with allegorical sculptures and the front facade is dominated by a tympanum, at the top of which can be seen the coat of arms of the cardinal József Batthyány, who was the first resident of the palace. Today, the palace serves as the office of the mayor of Bratislava. The Mirror hall inside the palace is now used as a concert hall. In the indoor courtyard, there is the Fountain of St. George fighting against the dragon.
Another important palace of Bratislava is the Grassalkovich Palace, originally built for the President of the Royal Chamber of Hungary which used to be a sought-after place for aristocracy. Nowadays, the palace serves as the seat of the head of the state. The palace itself is complemented by the Grassalkovich Garden, originally designed in the French ornamental style, which is currently a popular place for walks and concerts. In the garden, there is the statue of Empress Maria Theresa on horseback, the Fountain of Youth and avant-garde statues. There is also an alley in the park called the Presidential avenue, where each head of the state plants a small oak as a sign of their visit.
The Mirbach Palace of rococo style which was built by Michael Spech, a brewer from Bratislava, was named after its last owner, Count Emil Mirbach who left the palace to the city. The wish of Emil Mirbach was to make this place a gallery. His desire was met and nowadays, there is a permanent exhibition of Central European baroque painting and the art of sculpture. Some of the rooms are also reserved for short-term exhibitions. There is also a fountain decorated with statues of Triton and nymphs in the courtyard of the palace.
In the historic area of Bratislava, there is also the St Martin’s Cathedral, the largest and most significant church of the city. The Cathedral is built in gothic style and is to be a reminder of the time when Bratislava was the crowning city for Hungarian kings.
Another significant sight of the city as well as a national cultural monument is Devín Castle located at the bottom of a cliff above the confluence of the Danube and Morava rivers. In addition to the beautiful view, there can be seen a part of a cave, formerly used for food storage, which now includes an exhibition devoted to the history of the Castle.
Bratislava also has the highest memorial of Central Europe reaching the height of 52 meters. Due to its location and the height, Slavín is visible from a large part of the city. The memorial is a military cemetery for 6,845 soldiers of the Soviet army fallen at the liberation of Bratislava during the World War II.
Major state institutions such as the Office of the President of the Slovak Republic, the Office of the Government, the Ministries, or the National Bank are in the capital of Slovakia. In Bratislava can be found, also some important judicial institutions such as the Supreme Court and the Judicial Council.
Slavkov-Austerlitz (Slavkov u Brna) is a town located in the South Moravian Region to the east of Brno on the Litava river.
The town is a well-known tourist destination. Its historical centre, including houses of townsmen, the Mansion House and the town hall, was declared an urban conservation area in 1990.
Slavkov-Austerlitz entered history books in 1805 after the victory of the French emperor Napoleon I. Bonaparte in the Battle of the Three Emperors. 165 000 soldiers encountered under the flags of the greatest European powers – France, Austria-Hungary and Russia at the battlefield near Slavkov-Austerlitz. This victory made Napoleon the European ruler for the next few years. The battlefield at Slavkov-Austerlitz was declared a landscape conversation area in 1992.
The Chateau dating from the end of the 16th century, originally built in renaissance style, is a pride of the town. In the 80’s of the 17th century, it was rebuilt into baroque style of today by the design of an Italian architect Domenico Martinelli of Lucca. In addition, a considerable part of the town has undergone a redevelopment including a new parish church. Italian artists took care also of the interior decoration of the Chateau. Frescoes were painted by Andrea Lanzani, closely cooperating with a stucco worker Santin Busi. The reconstruction of the Chateau was completed in the 30’s of the 18th century by the architect Václav Petruzzi. After the time, rich stucco and fresco decorations have been replaced by classicist elements.
A part of the Chateau complex is also a Chateau Garden of 15.5 ha which is one of the most significant historical gardens of Moravia. The Garden, originally of renaissance style, has been changing along with the Chateau itself and has been supplemented by, for example, sculptural elements created by Giovanni Giuliani. In the 18th century, small buildings were built in the Garden, of which the Chinese Summerhouse has been preserved. During the 19th century, the Garden was transformed into the style of English landscape garden. In the 70’s of the 20th century, the Chateau Garden was rebuilt to restore its baroque style. Its main components are two garden pools and baroque sculptures of mythological themes. There is also a six-hole golf course in the back part of the Garden since 1996. The Garden includes gardening and greenhouses as well.
In some parts of the town, including the Chateau Garden, Slavkov-Austerlitz has also preserved a part of its original Municipal Fortifying Walls from the 14th century. The remains of the Walls made of stone blocks have been preserved of average height of 4 meters, but originally reached 7 to 8 meters.
There is also a historical Jewish Quarter in the town of whose original 77 houses have been preserved more than half, including the school, a ritual bath, the Jewish Cemetery and a Jewish Synagogue which is protected as a cultural heritage.
The classicist Church of the Resurrection of Our Lord dating back to 1786 – 1789 is another cultural heritage of the Czech Republic to be seen in Slavkov-Austerlitz.
Various historical events, sightseeing, rock concerts and open-air theatres take place in the town during the tourist season.