Photo Tour: Eastern Czech Republic

If you're visiting Prague, think about taking one of the fast trains east. In a few hours, you'll be in Moravia, on the other side of the Czech Republic, far away from the crowds of tourists in Prague and Central Bohemia.

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Trinity column
One of the themes that's run through my trip to these former socialist/communist countries is the contrast between "then" and now. You'll see that contrast in Olomouc (OH-low-moats), a pretty city with a big central area that's full of twisty cobblestone streets and a mixture of architecture -- a nice place for wandering because it's hard to get too lost. Around almost every corner, you'll find a náméstí (NAAH-me-yes-tee, a "square," although most aren't actually shaped like a square), many with a monument or a fountain. The place with an overload of those is probably Horní náméstí, where (among others) you'll find the huge Trinity column and an astronomical clock. The clock used to be like the famous one in Prague, with a procession of saints... but the former communist government changed it to show a parade of proletarians. Detail from astronomical clock
textbook photos of various peas
Czech friends warned me away from Brno, the Czech Republic's second-largest city. They called it boring or dirty. Still, it was an easy trip from Olomouc, so I tried a day anyway. The city center has plenty of beautiful and interesting architecture, as you can see in the photo at the right from Zelny trh (Cabbage market square), where the daily market is still held.

I found out about another local tradition as I arrived at 11 in the morning -- just as the church bells rang noon. Hundreds of years ago, the commander of atttacking Swedish troops promised to call off his attack if it didn't succeed by noon. The town's clever bell-ringer decided to ring the noon bells an hour early... and his city was saved.

Brno is where the monk Gregor Mendel did his famous experiments with the traits carried from generation to generation of peas and bees. He became the father of modern genetics. I wondered how he reconciled his religious beliefs about divine creation with what he was discovering about evolution.
On Zelny trh
Two generic building supporters...
While we're talking about issues of religion vs. science, let's toss in a question of morality or good taste vs. fun -- and stir the pot. Around náméstí Svobody in Brno, you'll find a bunch of buildings "held up" by statues. The most controversial has got to be the one on the right. This man is one of the four mamlases (a slur that means "clumsy and stupid") who has the unfortunate job of holding up the building with one hand while he holds up his pants with the other. ...and one that's more controversial
Springtime in Kromeriz
Not far south of Olomouc is Kromeříž. My guidebook called it the best in the region around Zlín, and it is a pretty town. Spring was coming, for sure, as you could see in the budding trees and in the swans on the lake in the park by the chateau. swan at Kromeriz
This is stitched from five shots of the velke náméstí in Kromeříž. (Click for a larger view... if your browser shows a scrollbar, you can scroll it left and right.)
velke namesti in Kromeriz

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[Tour start: Central Europe, 2003] [Tours]

(These photographs are Copyright © 2003 by Jerry Peek. Much higher-resolution versions of most images, and many other images too, are available at Jerry Peek Photography. Photos are available at reduced prices, or free, for non-commercial use.)

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