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
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|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.
|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
|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.
|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.
|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.)
[Previous page: Kraków, Poland]
[Next page: Terezín concentration camp]
[Tour start: Central Europe, 2003]
(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.)