Weekend trip to Olomouc in Moravia.

This weekend we decided to take a trip away from Pardubice to unwind and reset our minds after being cooped up in our little apartment for perhaps a little longer than is healthy. I sent Sinéad a message on Facebook on Wednesday saying we should do something this weekend and go somewhere new…..an hour or two later and we were all booked in on the train and had a room for two nights. No panic, no looking through guidebooks, just chosen and booked….simples.

We left early Friday evening and had a bit of nightmare finding our seats on the train. You see České dráhy, the Czech railway company have this awesome numbering system for their carriages. We stood at the platform as the train came in, first carriage 367, then 366, then 365, then 364…..”ah this next one will be ours hun, whoo hoo let’s go on an adventure!”……..360…….360? Cue walking down the train, squeezing past people in the corridor and eventually finding our carriage to find of course that people were sitting in our reserved seats. Thankfully we had the only booked seats in the compartment so there was plenty of room for them.

When we arrived in Olomouc there was a thick fog in the air and it was noticeably colder than Pardubice. Thestation is currently being upgraded and our carriage just barely lined up with the temporary platform, requiring a wee bit of a jump to the right when disembarking.

We decided to forego the tram trip to our hotel and strolled through the town to our destination, the very nice Hotel Arigone, just a stones throw from the old square. We had passed an Irish bar on the way so of course that was added to our itinerary for the evening ahead. We had a lovely pizza in Gallery Caesar which has perhaps the most enviable location right in the middle of the old square. The pizza was really good, nice thin crispy base and plenty of toppings.

The rest of the evening was pretty chilled, and we had a fairly early night as we had yet to discover the main nightlife area and all the bars around the square closed fairly early. The following morning I spent a little while researching the various sights around town for places to photograph and set off for the day, Sinéad meanwhile was going to take it easy and have a pampering day in the massage parlour at the hotel.

My first port of call was the Horní náměstí (stop giggling!), the largest of the old squares in Olomouc and home to the largest plague monument in the Czech Republic, and boy is it large. So large in fact that there’s a chapel on the inside, which being November was unfortunately closed. The tourist season usually ends in September/October so if you’re planning/hoping to see the sights, i’d recommend going earlier but then again with the off-season there’s always the potential for snow, thus making already pretty towns, even prettier.

In the centre of the square lies the town hall, home to the aforementioned restaurant and also the site of another astronomical clock, less famous than it’s cousin in Prague but still quite pretty. The animated display is fairly simple but I really like the tile work on it and it certainly attracted sizeable crowds when it was time to chime.

The city planners of Olomouc are clearly fans of Roman antiquity and ancient mythology if the various Baroque fountains dotted around the town are anything to go by. There’s good ole Julius Caesar, famous for inventing the Caesar Salad and building Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas….of course. There’s Hercules, with his lovely hood and big stick. There’s Neptune with his trident threatening some horses and then naturally, there’s a fella hugging a dolphin, which details the story of Greek poet, singer and kithara player Arion rescued from the sea by a dolphin attracted by his singing. So if you find yourself fallen overboard from a cruise ship or yacht and you have a good set of lungs and a lovely singing voice, don’t panic, don’t worry about firing off a flare….just have a wee sing and a dolphin will be along to assist you. In all seriousness though, the Arion fountain is really cool and full of lots of tiny little details celebrating Olomouc and its characteristics.

After wandering around the square and taking in all the sights I decided to see what the local churches and cathedrals were like, after being suitably impressed in Kutna Hora a few weeks before. I made my way to St. Michael’s church which was just around the corner from our hotel. It’s not much to look at from the outside but on the inside……..phwoaaaaar, it BaROCKS with Baroque style. Opulent, massive, ludicrous, ostentatious….deathly quiet. A most impressive structure, now sitting empty and barely used like so many such buildings in the Czech Republic.

Following on from there I made my way to the Bezručovy sady, a quaint little park filled with Autumnal detritus, carpeting the green grass with an orange glow and making for pretty seasonal pictures. I moved slowly through the park taking in the relaxing air before carrying on through to St Wenceslas’ Cathedral, which boasts the tallest church spire in Moravia. I had a quick peak in the door and after St. Michael’s church it didn’t quite have the same wow factor, although I did return with Sinéad the following day and it is quite impressive in its own right, albeit not to the same exuberant extent as its smaller neighbour.

They say great minds think alike and such was the case when our Scottish friend informed us she was also visiting Olomouc the same weekend, just as randomly as we had been ourselves. It really is the best way to travel if you ask me as you can so easily get bogged down by guide books and set itineraries that you forget to actually experience the trip and instead just tick off a list without actually exploring. Of course i’ll do a quick recce beforehand but just to get my bearings so I don’t end up missing all the interesting places.

We met up with our friend on Saturday and had a grand aul time visiting a number of really cool and funky bars all within a short walk of each other. Czech bars traditionally are quite sombre affairs with little in the way of design or interior decor but many of the bars in Olomouc went all out on their themes, particularly the funky Koktejly & Sny retro bar designed like a 1950’s diner. Thanks to the waitress there for letting us in despite not having a reservation for what is clearly a popular spot with locals and visitors alike.

As with any town this large, a weekend isn’t enough to do it justice, there’s plenty of other sites we didn’t get to visit and check out but I think we got a pretty good taste for this North Moravian delight. I’d definitely go back there for another weekend getaway.

 

And now for some photos from the trip. I thought it would be useful to include a map of where the pictures were taken so anyone wanting to pay a trip there will be able to find their way around to the interesting sights. The photos below are pretty much in order of the way I took them. As you can see by the grey buildings on the map below there’s plenty more to see in Olomouc.

Map Legend

  1. The Holy Trinity Column
  2. Arion fountain
  3. Town Hall and Astronomical Clock
  4. Caesar Statue
  5. Školní (Picturesque Street)
  6. Neptune Statue
  7. Bezručovy sady (Park)
  8. St. Michael’s Church
  9. Chapel of St John Sarkander
  10. Hotel Arigone
  11. St Wenceslas’ Cathedral

Pictures Map

Statue behind small church
A statue outside the chapel of St John Sarkander

 

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The rather quaint Mahlerova Street heading down towards the main square.

 

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The Julius Caesar statue

 

Bros
The original Bromance, a feature of the Caesar statue.

 

Turtle Statue
The funky turtle statue next to the Arion fountain.

 

Turtle in the square
The Holy Trinity Column looms over the square.

 

Fishy Statue
Loved the detailing on the Arion fountain, like this dude hitching a lift off a big fish that has people’s faces in its scales and a small boy smoking a massive joint on its back……obviously.

 

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I’m no anthropologist/primatologist but that skull looks distinctly ape-like to me. More cool details on the Arion fountain.
Shell Girl statue
Modern art can be pretty atrocious but the Arion fountain holds its own against the more classical statues it shares the square with.

 

Dolphin Lover
Arion hugs his rescuer. He really loves that dolphin. And as you can see, he’s not excited by the dolphin, it’s completely platonic love between a man and a dolphin that saved his life.

 

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A fine view indeed.

 

Plague Monument Detail 2
Some details from the Holy Trinity Column.

 

Plague Monument Detail
“Lads I can see my house from here!!” The ornate golden statues atop the Holy Trinity Column.

 

Astronomical Clock 2
The astronomical clock isn’t as fancy as its more famous cousin in Prague and nowhere near as portable as an iWatch but still cool all the same.

 

Astronomical Clock 3
The clock bears depictions of a more working class nature. Bigging up the little guys if you will.

 

Astronomical Clock 4
The mosaic work really is pretty……communist.
Astronomical Clock 5
“Oh man I am beat, all this walking around in a circle is so tiring”.
Dragon drainpipe
I’ve noticed the Czech’s love to pimp their gutters and drain pipes, and that’s a great thing.

 

Small Town map 2
The feature all towns should have, a 3D map of the whole area, so handy for getting your bearings and way better better than a paper or phone map. And no it’s not made of chocolate despite the droopy spire. Do you think it would still be there if it WAS made of chocolate?

 

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You really can’t go wrong with a Neptune statue. Trident: check Beard: check Horses: check Badassness: check

 

Baby mural
Almost missed this mural at the entrance to the Dolní náměstí, must have been a school or orphanage previously.

 

Nice Street
The almost Mediterranean Školní street with a view towards the Town Hall tower.

 

Fancy Church interior 2
Boom! The rather grandiose interior of St. Michael’s Church
Fancy Church interior 3
The OCD in me is seeing that the centre of this dome is slightly off centre….I think….The orange glow is from orange glass in the upper portion of the dome. Quite breathtaking.

 

Fancy Church interior 4
Loved this entrance way, particularly the stone work over the door way.

 

Fancy Church interior 7
This altar is HUGE.
Fancy Church interior 5
A view back towards the front doors. There’s not an inch of this place that isn’t magnificently decorated.

 

Fancy Church interior 6
Ah the man himself.

 

Fancy Church interior
There’s no less than three domes inside the church and my 18mm (28mm on a crop sensor) lens was no way near wide enough to capture them all.
Lovely Street
Hrnčířská. A beautiful little street next to the park.

 

Castle Walls
Bezruč Park is a lovely little strolling area right in the heart of the city.

 

River
The Mlýnský potok flows through the park.

 

Tiny Church
It wouldn’t be a Czech park without a tiny wooden church.

 

Leaves band stand
……or bandstand.

 

Cathedral Path
While trying to make my way to St. Wenceslas’ Cathedral I took a wrong turn but was gifted with this delightful view as a result. Sometimes going the wrong way can have its upsides.

 

Archdiocese Museum
The Archdiocese Museum next to the cathedral.

 

Big Cathedral interior 2
Inside the cathedral was a bit more subdued than St. Michael’s Church but still rather grand all the same.

 

Big Cathedral interior
The interior of St. Wenceslas’ Cathedral.

 

Astronomical Clock
The Astronomical Clock is lit up nicely at night.
Dolphin Fountain
The Arion fountain with the Holy Trinity Column in the background. The blurry parts in the fountain are little kids who were climbing all over it….the hooligans.

 

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A spot of floodlighting makes everything look prettier don’t you think?
Angel statue 2
Another modern statue stands in contrast to the Holy Trinity Column behind it.

 

Town Hall and Plague Monument
The obligatory picture postcard photo from the trip.
Dolphin Lover at night
Arion: “I love you dolphin” Dolphin: “Love you too Arion, now sing me a song”

 

Small Church
The closest sight to our hotel, the chapel of St John Sarkander was right outside. St. Michael’s church is in the background.

Be sure to check out this great website full of useful information on Olomouc and surrounding areas.

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