© Libor Sváček, archiv CzechTourism

Olomouc in the times of the House of Luxembourg

Olomouc - Litovel - Uničov - Bouzov

Length 63 km Duration 1 Day

Olomouc is situated about 280 kilometres from Prague; you can make the entire journey by motorway. Alternatively, you can use the direct train connection from the Prague Main Railway Station. It takes about two to three hours. For transportation between the stops on the itinerary the local train and bus connections can be used.

Moravia was always an important part of the Lands of the Bohemian Crown and is inextricably linked with the life of Charles IV. On this trip you can see three towns that formed a defensive alliance confirmed by Charles IV in 1346, namely Olomouc, Litovel and Uničov. The towns as well as the whole region are full of Gothic landmarks, which are definitely worth seeing.

In Olomouc, the first stop on the visit is Upper Square, where you seemingly move against the flow of time. Its landmark, the Column of the Holy Trinity, part of UNESCO World Heritage, is the largest grouping of Baroque statues in one sculpture in Central Europe. The nearby Town Hall, the town’s most important secular architectural monument, has been a symbol of the town’s importance for six centuries. Permission for its construction was granted by Charles IV’s nephew, the Margrave of Moravia, Jobst of Luxembourg, in 1378. On its facade there is an astronomical clock, whose roots date back to the 15thcentury, but which was remodelled into its unique present form much more recently. Watching it is really entertaining, so have fun. The third stop in Olomouc is the Church of St. Maurice, one of the rarest late-Gothic buildings in Moravia. One of its interesting features is the double spiral staircase at the west wall, but the most unique part is the late Gothic sculpture of Christ on the Mount of Olives, located inside the Church. You also should not miss the organ, the largest in Central Europe and the eighth largest on the entire continent. From the Church, move on to Olomouc Castle, where the last member of the Přemyslid dynasty, the Czech King Václav III, was murdered in 1306, leaving the path to the throne open for the Luxembourg family. Definitely worthy of attention is the Bishop's Palace with its famous Romanesque windows, included in the tour of the Archdiocesan Museum and founded on the initiative of Pope John Paul II. The most important part of the castle is the Gothic Dome of St. Wenceslas, today adapted in the neo-Gothic style, which is the church of residence of the Archbishop of Olomouc. Among the famous guests at the castle were a young W. A. Mozart, who composed his 6th Symphony in F major here, Mother Theresa and the already mentioned Pope John Paul II.

After strolling around the sights Olomouc, why not have a rest and something to eat. The local specialities are highly recommended and are easily recognised as they bear the label “Ochutnejte Hanou” (Taste of Haná). The restaurants labelled with this brand serve traditional recipes using exclusively local or seasonal ingredients. You can enjoy slowly roasted duck with caraway seeds and apples, braised cabbage and potato dumplings, tripe soup or delicately salted pastries made from original Olomouc cottage cheese.

From Olomouc, move on to the town of Litovel. Here the oldest functional stone bridge in Moravia can be seen, it is the third oldest in the country, after Charles Bridge in Prague and Písek bridge. Another important monument in Litovel is the originally Gothic Church of St. Mark. Its history dates back to the beginning of the 14th century, since then it has been damaged and repaired many times. Its interior is unusually simple for a catholic church, but still very interesting. The benches from 1769 are extremely rare. On Ottokar’s Square, make sure to visit the exhibition hall, whose tower is one of the landmarks of Litovel. The tower was built at the end of the 15th century and a saying has it that it is the highest tower in Moravia. However this is just a pun, because the tower is situated directly on one of the branches of the river Morava.

The next stop on the trip around the Olomouc region is the ancient town of Uničov. In 1354 Charles IV granted the town the right to hold an eight-day annual market and nineteen years later, this privilege was expanded with the right to hold a second annual market being granted. One of the remarkable Gothic monuments associated with the time of Charles IV is the remains of the fortification walls and the only preserved gate called Medelská Gate. The original form of the walls can be seen on a picture of the city and its ground plan from 1680, which is on display in the Town Museum at the Water Gate. Also well worth a visit is the irregular-shaped Masaryk Square whose dominant feature is the Marian Column, built in 1735–1745 to express gratitude for saving the city from the Hussites and the Hungarian army.

Bid farewell to the Olomouc region at Bouzov Castle, connected to the personage of Charles IV in an interesting way. In, 1414 it became the property of Boček of Kunštát and Poděbrady, a former cup-bearer of Charles IV. His son Boček II later became Charles IV’s Lord Chamberlain.

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