Region: North Moravia and Silesia
Ostrava, the third largest city in the Czech Republic with almost 310,000 inhabitants, is located in the north-eastern part of the country at the heart of the Moravian-Silesian Region. The city lies on the banks of the Ostravice river and offers views of the beautiful Beskydy mountains. Close by are the borders with Slovakia and Poland.
The first written mention of a settlement called Ostrava, on the estates of Archbishop Bruno of Olomouc, dates back to 1267. The town was located on the so-called Amber Route, an ancient trading route providing the main link between the Baltic and the Mediterranean. In the second half of the 14th century, city walls and fortifications were constructed. Today, the only remnants of these walls are in the name of one of the city’s streets – Na hradbách (‘Wall Street’) – together with a small fragment of the walls near the church of St Wenceslas. During the course of the centuries, the city was hit by numerous fires and military conquests, but it also developed into a thriving local centre of trade and crafts. The turning point in Ostrava’s history came in the latter half of the 18th century, when coal deposits were discovered. This in turn led to the development of the iron and steel industries. In 1994, however, the last ever coal was mined in the city, and modern Ostrava is no longer a typical industrial city. Its former coal mines now provide the premises for mining museums, and the iron and steel works still await future use. Thanks to its industrial heritage, Ostrava can boast many unique gems of industrial architecture.
In addition to these technical structures, the city also offers a wide range of cultural and historic attractions allowing visitors to spend a wonderful, unforgettable time here. Ostrava also has a vibrant cultural life. Its theatrical scene is renowned, with five theatres, the Janáček Philharmonic Ostrava, a strong tradition of music and folklore festivals, as well as dozens of art galleries and exhibition spaces. The city’s modern sports facilities are a must for sports enthusiasts and offer an superb range of leisure activities. Ostrava plays host to the annual Golden Spike Grand Prix athletics meeting, and is a regular venue for top tennis events including the Davis Cup. Children will love the city’s zoo, the Fairy-Tale Ghost Cellar, or the Miniuni complex with its scale models of international landmarks. The Puppet Theatre offers a wide repertoire of performances, and visitors can also enjoy the newly renovated Silesian Ostrava Castle, a favourite venue for cultural and entertainment events.
A modern-day Ostrava phenomenon is Stodolní Street, the city’s ‘clubland’ for the young and young-at-heart, offering a plethora of restaurants, bars and clubs. The street forms the central point of the annual international music festival Colours of Ostrava.
Ostrava truly offers something for everyone!