A few weeks ago I had the chance to visit Brno for a couple of hours. I had no clue what to expect from the town, except the words of my father-in-law who said it was a boring place (even though he has never been there).
I started the day in Bratislava, jumped into the car, and drove to the city center of Brno. We used the hotel of a garage (the parking price was 60 CZK per hour). From there we could easily reach the city center, and we only walk for 1 minute before we saw this interesting statue next to us.
The statue is from 1962. It wasn’t a statue I would stand and admire for hours, but it was a nice way to start exploring the city. As we walked for a hundred more meters, we entered a walking street, and thus the inner city. The shops very fine, but the most interesting was what was above us. It was a large gathering of umbrellas. What made this so cool is that they are there purely for design, because if it would actually start raining and the wind would start to blow, they wouldn’t keep you dry for a second.
We only had to walk for a few more minutes, and then we reached one of the main squares in Brno. This was a wide square with lots of nice looking buildings on all sides. There are several interesting objects at the square, for example, the plague pillar that was raised after an epidemic plague in 1689. The entire square was renovated in 2006, and as a result, the pillar was also renovated then. Today, this is a fantastic square with shopping opportunities, restaurants, cafés, and almost everything you need.
The square is normally called the Freedom square (Náměstí Svobody). Since it is located lower geographically than the other big square in Brno, it has also been called the lower square. But, due to its size (it is bigger than the other famous square), it has also been called the Big Square. No matter what you call it, it is an impressing square, and you can easily enjoy a couple of hours watching the architecture, grabbing something to eat, and doing some shopping here.
The black granite at the Freedom square
One of the most special constructions at the square is the black granite clock from which small marbles fall out every day at 11.00. Make sure to check it out if you are in Brno at that time of the day (we weren’t). There are other famous buildings at the square, for example, the House of the Lords of Lipá, House of Four Giants, and the Klein Palace.
As we left the main square, we walk in the direction of the Church of St. James (in the opposite direction of the other famous square in Brno). This is a church that is hard to make a photo of, but I managed to grab a photo anyway.
The church has been a national monument in the Czech Republic since 1995. The church is free to enter, so I went on the inside to enjoy the interior for a few minutes before it was time to grab some lunch.
We ended up eating our lunch in a restaurant just next to the church after the short church-visit. The name of the restaurant we chose was Forky, and it is something in-between a fast food restaurant and a normal restaurant. What we didn’t know is that this is a restaurant in which they use no meat, which is interesting based on all the hamburgers they have on the menu. We anyway ordered, ate, and had a good time. The hamburger “meat” looked a bit strange, but once we understood that it had no actual meat in it, we quickly understood why!
The restaurant itself had a beautiful interior, just look at the picture beneath.
As we left Forky, we headed back to the Freedom square, and from there we headed in the direction of the other main square in Brno, the Vegetable market (Zelný trh). Before we got there, we ate a pancake with nutella, giving new strength and much needed sugar to the body.
At the vegetable market, we could still see parts of the market (it was a Saturday and the sellers had started to leave the square). In the very middle of the square, you can enjoy the beautiful Parnas fountain, one of the most beautiful baroque monuments in Brno. It was built between 1693 and 1695, by Adam Tobiáš Kracker.
At the square you can also find the Grandezza hotel, a perfect place to live if you want to reside in Brno for a night or two. The square also has a glass building in which there was an indoor market on every floor. The building had free toilets in the basement, and if you take the elevator (or the stairs) to the top floor you can enjoy a magnificent view towards the next station on our trip, the Cathedral of St Peter and Paul.
The most beautiful church of them all in Brno
As we walked the streets of Brno, we felt as if there were churches on every corner. But, the most beautiful of them all was still the one we gazed towards from the Vegetable market, the Cathedral of St Peter and Paul.
As we climbed the stairs towards the church, we met lots of guests attending a wedding. They were all getting ready for the ceremony in the church, but luckily we managed to get on the inside of the church before it all started. It is free to enter the cathedral, so if you visit Brno, make sure to visit the inside of this church. It is one of the most important buildings in this part of the Czech Republic, and it was built on the location of an earlier church in the 14th century.
Why do the bells ring at 11.00 in Brno?
There is a very cool legend connected to this cathedral in Brno. Normally, all churches ring their bells at 12.00, but here they ring at 11.00. But, as the Swedes laid siege of Brno during the Thirty Year War, they said they would call of the attack if they didn’t take the city by 15.00. Some smart citizens rang the bells of the church at 11.00, and the Swedes thought it was the sign that they should retreat.
Since then, the bells of the cathedral has been ringing every day at 11.00 instead of 12.00.
Before you leave the Petrov Hill (where the cathedral is located), I recommend you to walk around the church. You can enjoy a nice view towards other parts of Brno from one lookout point, and you can also see some very nice houses surrounding the church building itself.
As we left the Petrov Hill we were tempted to accept a welcome drink to the guests attending the wedding, but instead we walked on towards the Vegetable market again.
If you take a look at the picture above, you can see the Vegetable market in Brno again. On the left, you can see the “glass building” I mentioned earlier, which serves as an indoor market. From the top of this you can enjoy a nice view, completely for free. But, just behind it you can also see the Old Town Hall. This is the best place for a panorama view in Brno.
Old Town Hall in Brno
In the Old Town Hall you can visit a permanent exhibition about the history of the hall. There is also a gallery here. During the summer season it is possible to climb the 63 stairs of the tower to get to the top and enjoy a splendid view. If you have the chance, make sure to do so! The entrance fee is 70 CZK for adults, while children under six can enter for free. If you arrive with the entire family, the family ticket is 150 CZK.
By now, it was time to return to our parking lot and to pay our parking fee. We had totally enjoyed our stay in Brno, and would gladly return to the city to enjoy its architecture, to eat some real meat, and to visit all these places (and many others) once again.
Earlier, I have only visited Prague and Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic, but Brno was a giant surprise, and I would love to visit the city again (just like I would love to visit Cesky Krumlov and Prague again).
Have you been to Brno? Did you enjoy your stay? Did you leave Brno with as many good memories as we did? If I have inspired you to visit Brno with this article, know that it is only 200 km from Prague, meaning you can rent a car and get to the city in less than 2 hours.