wooWalking the streets of Brno is like walking through a Wes Anderson storyboard, where confectionery-colored 19th-century façades meet frame-by-frame with charming modernist buildings and Communist-era apartment blocks.
The Czech Republic’s second city enjoys its quiet, quaint life out of the limelight: while Prague handles stag parties, Brno, about a quarter of the capital’s size in terms of population (1.3 million to 379,000), quietly frowns on those things. Can focus on what he cares about, like music and food. The Vegetable Market, where produce stalls share space with food trucks and smart outdoor cafes, is never overcrowded, and the nearly weekly festival ranges from August’s multi-genre music marathons to uproasted, joyous, community-spirited affairs. live, which brings free performances throughout the summer. streets and squares. The Fringe Theater is also big here, and The Goose on a String Playhouse is one of Brno’s many delightful hidden courtyard cafes.
The student population of at least 12 universities ensures a relaxed and youthful atmosphere. This is evident each evening in Jakobske Square, the center of Brno’s nightlife, where customers of Vepe na Stojaka (the name means “standing bar”) drink their local craft beer outside on the sidewalk, then to a burger at Forky’s. Head, a stylish vegetarian restaurant with its own fast-food counter.
The fleshy medieval walls of the former seat of Moravia’s ruling class look down on the compact city centre. Spielbark Castle is a peculiar tourist attraction, given that its damp, windowless rooms were used largely as prison dungeons, but the recent transformation of two huge water tanks into a stone temple, centuries-old Showcasing statues and monuments, an atmospheric Game of Thrones tingle.
In the early 20th century it was opposite the hill that became Brno’s most fashionable address. The former grasslands of Cerna Pol are now covered in smart homes, and this district, just north of the beautiful Lusanki public park, has become a must-visit, especially for two residences: the Art Nouveau Villa Low-Bier, named for its The second owners are named after German-Jewish textile magnate Alfred Low-Beer (who was assassinated after being detained by the Gestapo in 1939), and Villa Tugenhaut, which was named after his daughter Greta (who died in 1938 as his own). had fled to Switzerland with the family) by the modernist architect Ludwig Mies van. Der cry. Both houses were lost to the family through the German invasion in 1939, and were later used by the Gestapo. Major restoration projects at the turn of the 21st century have returned them to their original splendor and they are now important touchstones of the city’s economic and social history.
Food and Drink
Brno’s cafes and bistros are among its brightest attractions, mixing a fast-paced gastronomic edge with a casual, all-welcoming feel. The Atelier, with its pop-art patio, and the Elementor, with its open kitchen and NYC vibes, are two of the hottest tables in town, while new-style pubs like Locale U Capella still serve up classics like goose chowder and goulash with beer. The dishes are served freshly drafted from the tanks parked by the bar.
Lunch specials (which come with a soup starter) are a good way to sample the local cuisine – if you’re visiting Villa Tugenhat, it’s a short walk to Era Café, whose functional interior contrasts with the complex of youth. buzzes with people. Meanwhile Pho in Brno is always a good option, thanks to the Vietnamese community that has flourished here since the 1960s.
Fifteen years ago it was just too hard to find a good cup of coffee in the city – now it’s packed with microroasteries, and the enduring art of Czech confectionery is getting an upgrade with avant-garde patissier like Sorry. Meanwhile, Bar That Doesn’t Exist kickstarted an original cocktail scene a few years ago, and its creators now run five different offerings from Super Panda Circus across town, where menus are navigated through an interactive game. is done. A comprehensive whiskey bar that was voted Brno’s best when it opened last year.
In November 2021, Brno reopened its Museum of Applied Arts (part of the Moravian Gallery) after a complete overhaul of its galleries: it now boasts one of the best-designed museums in the world, and admission is free. Is. Futuristic catwalks allow you to walk through exhibits suspended between original 19th-century balconies, while Brno’s glass-, ceramic- and textile-making history is reflected in collections that resemble the archives at the Ministry of Magic . There is even a robot barista who will make you a selfie-ccino with your picture.
The music festival scene in Brno has everything from international opera to alt-pop (a new addition to Brno’s crowded festival calendar, Pop Messe). But it’s the smaller clubs, rather than the big venues, that keep their heartstrings intact. Fleda, a former cabaret venue, has been entertaining people for more than a century, while the small cabinet mews have transformed themselves from being home to an experimental theater company to bolster the idea that a late-night club What can happen; what can be done. At night it hosts local alternative bands and electronica; During the day it operates a popular vegetarian cafe and a record store with its own in-house label.
There are also two great cinemas in the city. Kino Art, a de facto cultural hub for the community, has been an increasingly popular hangout since its cafe was given a nice makeover by interior designer Martin Herdina. Meanwhile, a visit to Scala University Cinema is like taking a step back to the 1960s in a good way: its retro wood-paneling and charming staircase complemented by a busy, trendy bar.
The forest-side Brno Reservoir, colloquially known as Prigal, stretches for 10 km from end to end; Its southern tip, where a hydroelectric dam was built in the 1930s, is only half an hour on tram (and less by car) from the city center. Well-marked hiking trails surround the lake, and there are several sandy beaches where families can come to swim, sunbathe, or play volleyball. In fact, it is popular for all kinds of recreational activities, from paddleboarding and waterskiing in the summer to skiing and ice skating in the winter. Public transport boats operate all the way to Waveri Castle, which overlooks the northern part of the lake from its rocky cliff, and hosts a number of events and festivals. On the east coast is the Maximus Resort, one of the best spas in the country that has an “Outdoor Sauna World,” and offers excellent value for its two- or three-hour trips. Beyond the dam at the southern end, the Sratka River runs through the city zoo to the Brno centre, which covers about 65 hectares on Monks Hill along the way.
where to stay
There is a remarkable wave of nostalgia dating back to the time of the First Republic, founded in 1918 after the fall of Austro-Hungarian rule, with businesses ranging from banks to cafes invoking its spirit. In those interwar years, Brno was a major center of functional architecture, much of which is now being restored after decades of neglect. In 1926 Bohuslav Fuchs designed the Hotel Evian (doubles from £66) to squeeze into an extremely narrow gap between the buildings, and after six years of renovation this eight-metre-wide building reopened to guests in March 2022 Gaya – Non-residents can still visit its museum and cafe.
Emma John’s trip to Brno was provided by Czech Tourism., travel pass provided by Interrail; Prices start at €185 (for a trip of four days within a month)