Located roughly halfway between Prague and Krakow, Olomouc boasts a concentration of Baroque architecture second only to Prague.
Olomouc was founded as a royal town near the Morava River in the early 13th century. The history of settlements here is much older. Thereis mention of a Premyslid castle in the mid-11th century; the Moravian bishopric was also founded here around that time. There are numerous religious monuments, such as the Bishop’s Cathedral of St. Wenceslas. Residential buildings surround the former castle and canonry houses. The Bishop’s Palace is an outstanding monument with a complex design of windows. In the building of the capitulary dean the last Premyslid King, Wenceslas III, was murdered in 1306.
The second significant section of town is the western part with the Upper and the Lower squares. The remarkable rectory Church of St. Maurice and the extensive town hall, which has a bay chapel and a modern astronomical clock, date from the Gothic period. The Renaissance is represented by several town palaces and a complex of merchants' houses called “Pod bohatými krámy”(Under the rich shops).
After the Thirty Years' War, the town was magnificently rebuilt in the Baroque style. Besides the buildings of the Jesuit order, the Archbishop’s Palace or the nearby pilgrimage place called “Svatý kopeček” (Holy Hill), a unique complex of six Baroque fountains and plague columns has been preserved. On the site of a large Baroque fort, a green zone of parks and orchards was founded in the 19th century.