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Moravia and Silesia

photo:  (fotolia)

The eastern part of the Czech Republic is made up of Moravia and Silesia. Both regions have a varied history and are attractive geographically. The north has attractive mountains and the south, endless plains. You will find reservoirs, lakes, ponds and karst formations here. There are also many opportunities for sports activities. Various historic monuments are also worth seeing. Moravia has much to offer tourists.

Moravia is chiefly beautiful nature. It is predominantly formed of hilly country, highlands and low mountain ranges. The Bohemian-Moravian Highlands extend along the border with Bohemia. This is also where the Jihlava and Oslava rivers originate. The Bohemian-Moravian Highlands also include the Žďárský Peaks massif.

The Drahan Highlands with the Moravian Karst extend to the east of the Bohemian-Moravian highlands. The Jesenik Mountains are located in the north of Moravia and the south of Silesia. This is the location of the highest Moravian mountain, X4 Praděd X4 (map), which is 1,492 metres above sea level. Králický X5 Sněžník X5 (map) extends to the southwest of the Jesenik Mountains to the border with Bohemia. The Odry Peaks rise to the southeast of the Jesenik Mountains.
Several lowland ravines and “gates“ extend along the rivers in south and central Moravia. More mountain ranges connect to these in east Moravia – the White Carpathians, Javorníky, Moravian Silesian Beskid mountains, Vsetín Mountains, and farther to the west are the Chřiby Mountains and the Ždánický Forest uplands.
The entire area of Moravia is bisected from north to south by the Morava River. This is Moravia’s largest river. You can find the lowest point in Moravia – only 148 metres above sea level – at the confluence of the Morava and Dyje rivers in the southernmost area of Moravia, where it meets the borders of Slovakia and Austria.
Each area of Moravia offers tourists a different attraction. Lets us look at them starting from the north.

North Moravia and Silesia

As mentioned above, the north of Moravia, which also includes Czech Silesia, is predominantly hilly. From the south the mountains merge into the fertile Morava Valley and the Moravian Gate. This is where the Salt Route and Amber Road once led.
The main tourist attractions in the west of the region are the Jesenik massif and the Rychlebský Mountains. They offer excellent conditions for relaxation and alpine hiking. In winter the Jesenik Mountains are a popular destination for skiers, both cross-country and downhill. The main centres are Praděd, X6 Červenohorské Sedlo X6 (map) and X7 Ramzová X7 (map).

North Moravia also offers a dense network of cycle routes and several golf courses, such as in Čeladná and Kravaře. This region is also well known for its spa towns. The best known of these is X8 Lázně Jeseník X8 (map). It was brought to fame by native son Vincenc Priessnitz, the world-famous natural healer and founder of hydrotherapy - Priessnitz poultices. The Karlova Studánka (Charles’ Well) spa, which is located below Praděd, is also of significance. In addition to classic spa visits they currently offer relaxation programmes.

The city of X9 Ostrava X9 (map) is the centre of the area and is the third largest city in the Czech Republic. The Amber Road used to pass through this city, as well as Opava. Today everyone links Ostrava chiefly with coal, which was mined here for centuries. In the 19th century Ostrava was the most important industrial centre in the monarchy. It was only in 1990 that mining was severely reduced. Today there are a number of remarkable technical monuments on the site of the former mines. Ostrava also offers other monuments, for instance the Silesian-Ostrava castle dating from the second half of the 13th century and the second largest church in Moravia and Silesia, the Cathedral of the Divine Saviour. The younger generation will be thrilled by the famous Stodolní Street, the location of more than 70 entertainment establishments, which are open all night.

East Moravia

The eastern part of the region is called Wallachia, which is famous due mainly to the Wallachian Open-Air Museum in Rožnov pod Radhoštěm (map).Thanks to this museum we have the unique opportunity of seeing the architectural style of wooden church buildings and folk architecture with our own eyes and acquainting ourselves with period folklore.
The town of Kopřivnice is only a short distance from Rožnov pod Radhoštěm. This is famous for its automotive manufacture. In 1897 the first automobile carriage, called the Präsident, was manufactured here, it was the first vehicle of its type in Austro-Hungary. In subsequent years Kopřivnice was famous due mostly to its manufacture of Tatra vehicles. The local museum provides evidence of the history of development of the automotive industry.

Vizovice is also a well known town. It is famous for its plum orchards, or more precisely for the spirit that Rudolf Jelínek started distilling from plums in the local distillery as early as the 18th century – Slivovic. Similarly, Wallachia is also inseparably linked to Wallachian Frgale, large round open pastries, most often with a curd cheese or plum jam filling.
East Moravia is also mountainous. The best known mountains are the Beskid Mountains. They are a popular destination for skiers in winter, cyclists in summer and tourists in general. Pustevny is a renowned centre in the Beskid Mountains, it is the location of wonderful buildings by architect Dušan Jurkovič and make for fairytale surroundings. Javorníky and the White Carpathians also offer beautiful natural scenery.
The main metropolis of this region is the town of Zlín (map), made famous by Baťa and his shoes, which are world famous and thanks to the typical buildings he built in Zlín. Today they are an example of unique Functionalist architecture.
The spa town of Luhačovice is located not far from Zlín. You can visit golf courses in Rožnov pod Radhoštěm and Zlín or in nearby Slušovice.

Central Moravia

Central Moravia is a region of folklore traditions. The local folk costumes are renowned worldwide.
The fertile area surrounding the Morava River is also called the Haná. However, you can also find the mountain ridges of the Odry and Hostýn Mountains and the Chřiby Mountains here. The imaginary “circle“ around the region is completed by the Drahan Highlands.
This is also the location of the deepest ravine in Central Europe – the Hranicka Ravine. The current measured depth reaches 329.5 metres, but according to experts the total depth could be up to 700 metres. You can also find natural beauty underground. The local caves, for instance the Javoříčské (map), Mladečské and Zbrašovské caves, are definitely worth visiting.

The whole of Central Moravia is intersected by many tourist routes and cycle routes. The Moravian and Amber Road is part of the EuroVelo project. More information is available on the website of the Tourism Centre.
There are also two golf courses in the Olomouc Region, in Olomouc and Radíkov.

The region also boasts many historic monuments, some of which are even UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Sites. These are the gardens and château in Kroměříž (map) and the city of Olomouc (map). Wine is also linked to the Kroměříž region. The northernmost vineyards in Moravia are located here. The local sacramental wine is renowned. It comes from the Archbishop’s cellars of the Kroměříž Château, where it has been produced since the time of Charles IV.
Olomouc also boasts many historic monuments. The local Baroque column of the Most Holy Trinity dating from 1716-1754, which is 34 metres tall, was made a UNESCO monument in 2001. Olomouc is also a university city, the location of Palackého University. The local Flora Olomouc exhibition is also well known. Olomoucké tvarůžky (a type of soft ripened cheese) is famous. This is an authentic Czech cheese made from non-fat curd cheese with a very distinctive aroma.

The important place of pilgrimage, called Svatý Kopeček, is located several kilometres from Olomouc. There is a monumental church on the top of a steep slope, which is very visible from a distance of up to several dozen kilometres. On 21 May 1995 Pope John Paul II visited this site.
This region also offers many other historic monuments. For instance, the castles of Buchlov and Bouzov are worth a visit.

South Moravia

The city of Brno (map) is the chief metropolis of this region. It is also sometimes called the City of Trade Fairs. Brno’s trade fairs and exhibitions are the largest in the republic. The local machine engineering trade fair is world famous. The original pavilions are an example of period architecture. Brno is also a city of students. Masaryk University and the Polytechnic are both located here.
There are many historic monuments in Brno, for instance Špilberk (map) Castle and the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul. The city also has several theatres, the best known of these being Mahen’s Theatre and Janáčk’s Theatre.

South Moravia is also a place of vineyards, wine cellars and wine from the Moravia wine region. The folklore, which is linked to viticulture, is also remarkable and is made up of folk costume, music, singing and celebrations. Mikulov, Velké Pavlovice, Čejkovice, Šatov and Znojmo are all typical wine producing areas. The last named town is also famous for its gherkin production. Znojmo gherkins are world famous.

However, South Moravia offers tourists much more than just wine. We can mention the protected landscape area of the Moravian Karst, which is the location of the world-famous Macocha (map) Ravine and Punkevní cave and the Podyjí nature park, which is a preserved example of a river valley landscape.

The Lednicko-Valtický complex, which is a UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage Site, the château in Vranov nad Dyjí, Dolní Věstonice with its archaeological excavations, Pernštejn Castle and the town of Slavkov, famous for its Battle of the Three Emperors, are all historic monuments worth mentioning.

The Vranovská reservoir and the Nové Mlýny reservoir (map) both provide opportunities for bathing. Cyclists will enjoy the flat terrain and you can play golf at the courses in Jinačovice u Brna and in Slavkov.

Vysočina (Highlands)

Vysočina joins Bohemia to Moravia. It is largely made up of the Bohemian-Moravian Highlands, the most important part of which is the protected landscape area of the Žďárské Mountains. The centre of this area is the town of Žďár nad Sázavou (map). This whole area is an excellent place for recreation and sport, in summer and winter. There are many bodies of water here and in winter it offers opportunities for cross-country skiing. Nové město na Morave is the site of the annual World Cross-country Skiing Cup. There are also golfing opportunities here. You can visit golf courses in Telč (map) and in Svratka.

The most sought out monuments in the region are the Renaissance château in Telč, the Jewish Quarter in Třebíč (map) and the cemetery Church of Saint John of Nepomuk in Zelená Hora by Žďár nad Sázavou, which are all UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage Sites. The talented Baroque architect J.B. Santini, to whom the Czechs owe the most valuable Czech Baroque Gothic monuments, is the author of the church. The shrine is surrounded by a cemetery bordered by arcades in the form of a ten-pointed star.


Author: Dana Jakešová
Added: 25.01.2010

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