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A prime destination for a city break, Olomouc is a beautiful historical city with lots to tempt urban travelers. There’s impressive architecture, communist-era relics, fascinating museums and a student-driven nightlife.
At its center is Horní Náměstí, the oldest square in the city. It is home to the 115-foot (35-meter) Holy Trinity Column, one of the largest free-standing Baroque sculptures in central Europe. From the column make your way over to the Town Hall, the most dominant building in the square and recognizable also because of the Soviet-era Astronomical Clock on the façade. Be at the Town Hall at noon to watch as mechanical figures representing the working classes emerge from the clock. These little workers aren't the only reminders of the city’s communist past. In nearby Bezruč Park, visit the Civil Defense Shelter, built to protect the city’s leaders in case of a nuclear attack by the West.
Several noteworthy religious buildings are spread throughout Olomouc. Stop by St. Moritz Church, a colossal 15th-century church. Head to the neo-Gothic St. Wenceslas Cathedral, a magnificent building with three towers. King Wenceslas III was stabbed to death in a nearby house in 1306. Other religious landmarks, such as the Chapel of St. John Sarkander and St. Michael's Church, which has a lovely Baroque interior, are also worth seeking out.
If all that touring of Olomouc’s old buildings and monuments has kindled your interest in the city’s past, go to the Archdiocesan Museum at Olomouc Castle. The museum's exhibits trace thousands of years of the area’s history and include archeological relics from 3,500 B.C. Among the city’s other museums is the Museum of Modern Art, which focuses on art from the 20th century.
One of the Czech Republic’s oldest educational institutions, Palacký University is based in Olomouc. Wander the campus to see historic Baroque buildings, such as the Art Center, and mingle with students in cafés and bars.
Olomouc is less than a 3-hour train journey from Prague, so regular daytrips from the capital are feasible. However, this city’s riveting past and lively atmosphere warrant more time, so consider staying for longer.