The weekend before Easter we visited Brno, the largest Moravian city in the Czech Republic and the second largest city after Prague. Apart from visiting the wonderful Easter market, we also enjoyed soaking up the atmosphere of the city in spring, and visited some sights that I had not been to on previous visits to Brno.
First of all, we visited Špilberk gardens and castle. I had admired the view of Špilberk castle on the hill from many vantage points around Brno, but hadn’t walked up to visit it before. The walk itself is through a park, and that was also lovely in spring with yellow forsythia bushes, red tulips, pink blossoms and new leaves.
At the top, you have good views over Brno, and can walk around Špilberk citadel, even once the castle museum is closed. Construction of the castle began in the 13th century, and gradually a citadel grew up around it. The strong fortress was turned into a prison, and then a barracks. The fortifications of Špilberk helped Brno to defend itself against the Swedish army in the Thirty Years’ War, and it became the only city to resist the Swedes. This gave the Habsburg forces of Austria a chance to regroup and force the Swedish army to withdraw from the area, so that Austria was not conquered. When you see the solid walls of the fortress, you’ll understand why it was hard to defeat.
After our visit to the castle, we walked across town to meet some friends of my husband for drinks and food. On the way we passed by some of the familiar sights of Brno (read more about them here), and when we arrived on the other side of town we had a great view back over the castle.
Since it was a guy’s evening, drinks and food meant beer and ribs. Saying Czechs love beer is no generalization – statistics shows they have the highest beer consumption per capita in the world. My husband is no exception.
To be honest I am no beer fan (I find it too bitter), so my husband had promised we could go for a cocktail after the beers. There is a cocktail place in Brno I really like called “Bar, který neexistuje” (the bar that doesn’t exist). We had planned to go there again, but then read about its zany sister bar called “Super Panda circus” and were curious to try that one this time. Our verdict: we liked the decor and the atmosphere was fun but we much preferred the cocktails of “Bar, který neexistuje”.
The next morning, when most of the city still seemed to be asleep, we headed off on a tram to visit a dam next to Brno on the Svratka river. Brno has a very wide tram network – just look at this map.
We got off one stop before at “Zoologická zahrada” and then took a lovely morning walk along the river, admiring the spring blossoms along the way.
Several men were fishing in the river, and one was actually standing in water, fly fishing. Soon afterwards we came to the dam wall itself and spent some time watching the water rushing out of the sluice gate on the side before tackling the long flight of steps up to the top of the dam wall. On the other side of the wall, we could see the vast reservoir of water. Some yachts floated along the surface like butterflies, and as we walked closer we saw that they were taking part in a sailing competition.
It was still fairly quiet in the area and not many things were open, so after our walk we took a tram back to the city centre. Our next stop was to visit the Botanical Garden of the Faculty of Science of Masaryk University. It’s a small garden so we did not have big expectations, but it was surprisingly lovely. The design of the garden is so good that there is a lot packed into a small area – you can spend quite some time there. The Easter decorations added a special touch, but I’m sure there is something to see all year round.
After the botanical garden, it was about time for some coffee. There are many cafes in the city, but my husband made a beeline for his favourite, “Kofi Kofi”, the Brno coffee wagon.
Next it was time to head through the town to the Easter market to grab a bite to eat. I loved the Easter market so much that I wrote a whole post about it, which you can read here. There were plenty of signs that Easter was coming all around town, from Easter egg trees to pomlázka stalls to window displays full of Easter decorations.
At the same time that the Easter market was going on, there was also some kind of marathon finishing on the square, and it was also Open House Brno, which meant you could take a walk around some buildings that were normally not completely open to the public.
After this, it was time to head to the bus station for the long ride back to Berlin. It was a short trip, but it was nice to see a little bit more of Brno. The city is less famous than Prague, but there is certainly enough to see and do to make it worth spending some time there. A bonus is that there are far less tourists and the whole city feels more relaxed. A trip there could also easily be coupled with a visit to the Moravian winelands. If you’re tired of fighting the crowds in the more touristy areas of the Czech republic, visit Brno!