August 16, 2022

Gosh, I spy a uncommon free seat on the jam-packed Bar Ktery Neexistuje, which interprets as The Bar That Doesn’t Exist.

Gazing up at an illuminated floor-to-ceiling wall made up of each bottle of booze conceivable, I’m quickly sipping a pitch-perfect Manhattan.

This institution is on the coronary heart of medieval Brno — as soon as the capital of Moravia, now the Czech Republic’s second metropolis.

Martin Symington explores the Czech metropolis of Brno, which attracts solely a fraction of the guests Prague will get. ‘The whole lot within the historic centre is tightly packed and there’s a fizz and hum across the previous metropolis partitions and cobblestoned squares,’ he reveals. Above is Freedom Sq. on the coronary heart of the previous city

Pronounced Brrrno, it attracts solely a fraction of the guests Prague — some 130 miles away — will get, and there are direct flights from Stansted to Brno’s toy-sized airport.

The whole lot within the historic centre is tightly packed and there’s a fizz and hum across the previous metropolis partitions and cobblestoned squares, the place folks dine al fresco with floodlit spires hovering overhead.

Go within the second week of August and you’ll expertise Brno’s Maraton hudby — Music Marathon. This well-known pageant covers a rare number of genres, from jazz and rock to opera and people.

With greater than ten universities and an enormous worldwide pupil inhabitants on this metropolis of round 400,000, the youthful vibe is hardly stunning. Once I meet information Martina Pospisilova on the Previous City Corridor gatehouse, she exhibits me a dangling crocodile carcass. Often known as a dragon, that is Brno’s mascot.

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Legend has it that the beast lived within the Svratka river and wolfed up residents, till a heroic butcher poisoned it by filling an ox cover with caustic lime.

On a visit to the 13th-century Spilberk Castle, pictured, Martin learns that 'cruel and strange things' happened there in the medieval era

On a go to to the Thirteenth-century Spilberk Citadel, pictured, Martin learns that ‘merciless and unusual issues’ occurred there within the medieval period

We climb to Spilberk Citadel, which stands alone on a hilltop. The Thirteenth-century fort has been a fortress, a Moravian royal palace and a infamous jail.

‘Merciless and unusual issues occurred right here within the medieval period,’ I’m instructed in a whisper. Then a peal of bells from a turreted tower marks the hour with a weird rendering of Elvis’s Love Me Tender.

Time to drop in on Villa Tugendhat, a UNESCO World Heritage Website and certainly one of Brno’s headline points of interest.

It was constructed by the rich Czech-Jewish Tugendhat household (Tom Tugendhat MP, the latest Tory management hopeful, is certainly one of their kin) simply earlier than World Warfare II. I really feel transported into the longer term, fairly than again greater than 80 years, as I wander by minimalist expanses enclosed by glass and partitions of translucent onyx.

The villa fell into the palms of the occupying Germans a number of years after it was constructed. Later it turned a plaything of the Japanese European communist elite.


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Extra lately, it was chosen because the signing venue for the historic and amicable ‘velvet divorce’ between the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1992.

Different facets of Brno’s turbulent twentieth century are additionally unavoidable. Spilberk Hill, beneath the fort, was hollowed out to change into an air-raid shelter in the course of the warfare. Later, the identical tunnels had been put to make use of as a Chilly Warfare fallout shelter.

The corridors and claustrophobic chambers have been became a chilling museum that preserves in aspic a pattern of each eras.

On my final day, I enterprise south into the Moravian countryside, by rolling hills blanketed with vineyards and dotted with castles and mansions.

We cease for lunch at Znojmo, close to the border with Austria, and style some scrumptious dry rieslings on the city’s vinoteka.

This area was a stomping floor for the rich in Austro-Hungarian days, and I’m reminded that Vienna is a mere 90 minutes by highway from Brno.

‘We’re nearer to Vienna than Prague in each sense,’ Brno people maintain telling me. Actually, Brno appears like yin to Prague’s yang.

I suppose it’s a second-city factor, however Brno doesn’t examine itself with Prague. The Rivalry That Doesn’t Exist fairly echoes that bar in Brno’s previous city.