I’ll be honest, before starting to organize the trip to the Czech Republic, I hadn’t heard of BRNO. What’s more, trying to pronounce the name of this city gave me a sprained tongue. It was all skepticism and caution until I met her and was amazed (well, and until they told me the trick to pronounce her name: between the “B” and the “R” you must include a soft “e”. You’re welcome.) . So, so that you too can discover this incredible city in Moravia and give it the opportunity it deserves, I will tell you here the best things to do and see in Brno .

 Brno is located at a crossroads, closer to Austria (40km) and Slovakia (60km) than to Prague (200km). It was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and, after its dissolution, remained in the territory of Czechoslovakia. In 1993, after the separation of these two countries, Brno remained within the limits of the Czech Republic , although its spirit is very multicultural. Perhaps for all this is that both in its architecture, customs, gastronomy and even in its great sense of humor there is something more “cosmopolitan” than regional.

Walking through its streets is a delight, not only because of its historical heritage -and because many facades are painted in pastel colors and I love that-, but because the rhythm of the city is calm and its historic center is easily covered on foot. Precisely for this reason it is surprising that Brno is the second largest city in the country and the largest in the Moravian region.

With more than 30 university faculties, Brno is a constant abuzz with life, ideas, movement, color and march. When you go to Prague, include at least one day (ideally two) to get to know this city that perfectly combines tradition and modernity, architectural styles ranging from Gothic to the latest paradigms of the 21st century and that its streets, sculptures and monuments they make permanent winks to double meanings and humor. And if you don’t believe me, come and admire its new astronomical clock or ask where is the “best view” of the horse “Valentia” in the Plaza de los Dominicos.

Without further ado, here is a map so that at a glance you can gauge the size of the historic center of Brno, the itineraries and the most relevant sites that I am going to propose today.

Although it is possible to see everything in a whole day, my recommendation is that you take it easy, walk more slowly, pay attention to details and dedicate at least two days to the city. It has a lot to offer!

1. Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul

From practically any corner of the city, if you look up you will see this great symbol of Brno crowning Petrov Hill: the Cathedral of Saint Peter and Saint Paul.

The spiers of its two neo-Gothic towers from the 20th century dominate the skyline of the Moravian metropolis. They constantly remind one of the most important legends for the Bruneians about how they successfully resisted during the Swedish siege in the Thirty Years’ War (forever marking the character of their population).

Every day at 11 in the morning the bells ring as if it were 12 noon. The reason? To understand it, we must refer to the origin of the legend that tells that a Swedish general, exhausted after several failed attempts to conquer Brno, promised his soldiers that they would make one last one, but that, by 12 noon the siege had not given its fruits, the troops would withdraw forever.

This plan reached the ears of the generals of the Brno resistance and, neither short nor lazy, already at the limit of their forces and with their exhausted army, they rang the 12 bells an hour before, and thus managed to make the Swedes stand up. were. 

Since then, and to commemorate this brilliant idea, the bells ring symbolically from 12pm to 11am.

I recommend that you go up to the top of Petrov Hill to admire this iconic building of the city whose origins date back to the 13th century. Throughout its history it went through a Gothic reconstruction and two Baroque ones that give it the appearance we see today.

2. Spilberk Castle

From the top of a hill we go to another (you can walk there in about 15 minutes), where one of the most interesting medieval castles in Eastern Europe stands: Spilberk Castle (in Spanish it would be “Spielberg”).

This forceful Brno castle was expanded and rebuilt over time and also changed its functions according to the needs of the moment.

It went from being the residence of the Czech kings in the 13th to the 17th centuries to being a baroque fortress, to later become one of the most terrifying and feared prisons during the Austrian monarchy.

It was also a military barracks and is currently the headquarters of the Brno City Museum and also houses the “Museum of Prison Life”, where you can see how criminals and political prisoners lived there.

Cells in Brno Castle, Czechia

Cells in Brno Castle, Czechia

The castle is huge and has several areas to see, including “Las Casamates” , which is where you can see recreations of what the dungeons and torture rooms were like; the watchtower, the palace where there are two chapels, the exhibitions -permanent and temporary- that include the Museum of the City.

Another recommendation, don’t rush to the castle, because the climb is through a very nice park and from where you have beautiful views of the city and Petrov Hill with the cathedral.

​​Spilberk Castle opening hours: From July to September it is open every day from 10am to 6pm. From October to June it is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 9am to 5pm. Spilberk castle entrance fee: It has different prices, depending on what you want to see. The complete visit -which includes Casemates, watchtower and museum- costs €9 (approx).

Exterior of Brno Castle

Exterior of Brno Castle

3. Freedom Square (Brno Freedom Square)

Once you have visited the two iconic upper areas of the Moravian city, return to the center to visit one of the most central squares and with the most eloquent name in the city: “Freedom Square” (Namesti Svobody is its name in Czech ).

It is constantly abuzz with people: not only because it is the center of the city, but also because it is flanked by cute buildings with bars and restaurants on the ground floor and is where there are several interesting monuments.

For example, in Freedom Square you will see the plague column; There is also the building “of the four idiots” on whose facade four muscular men with a taste of… fools are spit on. However, the undisputed protagonist of this square is a kind of “monolith in black granite” dating from 2010 and shaped like… suppository? (Some will even say that it is a “penis”, but I will not be the one to say it).

Freedom Square, Brno

Freedom Square, Brno

If you ask a Bruneian he will tell you that he is a “time machine”. If you ask its creators, it is a complex and ultra-modern astronomical clock in the shape of a “bullet” that represents the heroic defense of the local troops against the Swedish army in the Thirty Years War.

Be that as it may, since its installation in the square it has generated controversy and controversy, but it is also an important tourist attraction. It turns out that from one of its four lower holes it launches, every day at 11am, a bohemian crystal ball . This is done to commemorate those bells that possibly saved the lives of thousands of Brunenians.

Of course, if you want to get the ball you will have to get up early, be patient and lucky. Because it turns out that there are several local characters who plant themselves right there around 9.30am, choose a hole and stay there until 11am. One of them is rumored to have over 200 crystal balls already!

If you don’t want to waste the whole morning betting on a black monolith slot… you can buy one of those balls at the Brno tourist office located in the Old Town Hall building (which is my next recommendation).

4. Building of the Old Town Hall of Brno

Another essential place to see in Brno is the Old Town Hall building . In addition to having a unique facade – which I will dwell on in a few minutes – it is full of legends that reflect the character, cunning and humor of the local people.

The building, which is the oldest civil work in the city, was the seat of the municipal administration from the mid-13th century until 1935. Nowadays you can stop by to pick up a map as it houses the tourist office.

Facade of the old Brno Town Hall

Facade of the Old Town Hall of Brno

The Old Town Hall is one of my favorites in the city because:

A. Several pinnacles can be seen on its Gothic facade, one of them is crooked because, according to legend, when the artist and sculptor Anton Pilgram was about to finish his work, he asked the rulers to pay him.

They paid him much less than what was agreed and Anton, pissed off, decided to bend the pinnacle and thus record “that it was as crooked as the word of the rulers.”

But the legend does not stop there. There is a “counter-legend” that says that this story was invented by the artist to be able to make a crooked pinnacle and thus demonstrate to the world his technique and skills. What version of the legend do you believe?

B. Inside the building there is another symbol of the city: the crocodile. Sorry, I meant the “Brno dragon” .

As soon as you walk through the front door of the building you will come across a stuffed crocodile hanging from the vaulted ceiling. Of course there is a legend behind this too and it goes like this: many years ago people in Brno lived peacefully until a huge green animal came along and scared the neighbors and ate their animals. Since they weren’t quite sure what the bug was, they thought it was a dragon.

Everyone was terribly afraid of it and didn’t know how to get rid of it until a cunning young man, a butcher’s apprentice, had the brilliant idea of ​​stuffing the body of a cow with “quicklime” and feeding it to the bug.

The dragon crocodile ate the cow, became thirsty and when it drank water -due to the chemical reaction- it exploded into thousands of pieces.

The old town hall, to commemorate that episode, then hung a stuffed crocodile so that all the people who passed through the city would know that the people of Brune can with and against everything.

C. If you were left wanting legends, there is one more: next to the famous stuffed crocodile there is a cart wheel made of wood. Why is it there? Because according to the story, a carpenter from Brno bet all his friends that he could make one of those wheels in just 1 day (he normally took almost a week to make it). He won the bet, he got rich and his friends… got poorer. So he stuffed his pockets, but he was left alone because no one else wanted to talk to him.

D. In addition to the entertaining legends, its beautiful facade and the fact that it houses the tourist office, the building of the old Brno City Hall has a tower that you can climb (there are 173 steps) to get beautiful views of the city more than 60 meters high. Admission is free.

5. Cabbage Square

Also known as the “Market Square” or “Vegetable Square” (Zelny trh is its name in Czech), this space that dates back to the 13th century owes its name to… (I’m sure you can’t even imagine it) that is here! The fruit and vegetable market has been installed since the Middle Ages!

Although the function of the market is maintained, there are things that were done in the Middle Ages in this square that are no longer done, such as putting up a cage with the “madmen” (who were often not so crazy) so that all the see and humiliate them or “tie” the scammers in one of the columns of the square (either for having overcharged or for having rigged the scales)

The square is very pretty and in it I would like to highlight: the Dietrichstein Palace -one of the oldest palatial works in Brno; the baroque house of the abbots of the Zdar monastery and the Hauspersky palace of Fanal, currently the headquarters of the Husa na provazku Theatre.

“Reduta” is also here, one of the oldest theater buildings in Europe, and it was here where Mozart gave one of his best concerts at just 11 years old. In addition, right in front of the building is the column crowned with the sculpture of the composer.

Finally, your eyes will surely go directly to the main attraction of the square: the Baroque Parnas fountain, the work of Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach. It is a fountain from the end of the 17th century that is made up of various sculptures with allegorical silhouettes and mythological animals that shape a large artificial cave where the sculpture of Hercules is located.

6. Valentia Sculpture and Plaza Morava

From square to square and I shoot because it’s my turn. This square that I recommend you visit in Brno is really worth it for several reasons.

First of all because here is the church of Santo Tomas (14th century) and on the other hand because on the esplanade next to the temple there is another of Brno’s controversial sculptures: “Courage”.

The latter is an 8 meter high bronze statue thanks to which we can see the sense of humor and mischief of the locals (among other things). The sculpture represents a nobleman with extremely long legs, as an allegory of bravery, hence its name.

Ask anyone where you get the best views of “Courage” and they’ll direct you to stand under the horse.


Sculpture “Courage” on Morva Square, Brno

7. The underground world of Brno

I am claustrophobic and many of you who have known me for a while know this, so delving into the deep and dark bowels of the Moravian metropolis did not make me particularly excited.

However, after having overcome those first few minutes of fear -and some anxiety- I have managed to enjoy underground spaces that tell stories, that tell us about life in the city from medieval times until well into the 20th century.

What is there to see below the surface of Brno? Keep reading and I’ll tell you!

A. Brno Underground Labyrinth

Under the “Plaza de la Col” there is a baroque labyrinth that tells us, through different rooms and recreations, what life was like in the city during the Middle Ages.

This is how for more than half an hour you go through old cellars to discover, for example, what an alchemist’s workshop was like, a cellar, a prison, a medieval storage room and even a bar from that time.

Open from Tuesday to Sunday from 9am to 6pm and admission costs between €3 and €6. You must contact the tourist office of the Brno city hall for the guided tour or on the Brno website.

B. Crypt of the Capuchin Monastery

Now we go to the underground area of ​​the old Capuchin monastery, next to the Santa Cruz church, where you can visit the pantheon or “Capuchin crypt”.

It is a small space where the mummified bodies -naturally- of the members of the Capuchin order from the 18th century to some patrons and other important personalities are perfectly preserved.

Ossuary of Saint James in Brno, Czechia

Ossuary of Saint James in Brno, Czechia

C. Ossuary of Santiago

Underground there can only be deaths, gloomy stories or things from the past, which is why until now I have mentioned a crypt or a succession of rooms from the Middle Ages.

On this occasion we go under the church of Santiago where you can visit the second largest ossuary in Europe -after the one in Paris- and the largest in the Czech Republic.

It has its origin in the 17th century and was only discovered in 2001 . In it are the bones of more than 50,000 people who have died for various reasons: from plague and cholera to the Thirty Years War.

The entrance is outside the church, a few meters from the main entrance.

If you have time, also take the opportunity to visit the Church of Santiago, which is one of the most important late Gothic buildings in the country. This temple was originally a Romanesque building and was later replaced by this Gothic church. As a curiosity I tell you that Anton Pilgam participated in its construction (the same one who made the pinnacle of the crooked town hall facade).

Inside you will see, in addition to the three naves and the beautiful vaults, the tombstones of several illustrious people, including that of Commander Jean-Louis Raduit de Souches, who was the one who successfully defended the Swedish siege (come on, the genius who it occurred to him to play the chimes of 12pm at 11am.).

​​Church hours: every day from 7am to 8pm Church entrance fee: free St. Jacob’s Ossuary hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 9.30am to 6pm. Closed on Mondays Entrance fee to the Osario de San Jacobo: between €2.75 and €6, although with the Brno Pass it’s free.

D. Bunker 10-Z

Until not long ago the anti-aircraft alerts were constant… Under the castle hill is this old anti-aircraft shelter built by the Nazis during World War II.

In 1946 it became a wholesale wine store called Lowy & Smid, but it did not last long. Since after the coup d’etat at the beginning of 1948, the store was confiscated by the communist government and there they finished building the shelter intended to protect a maximum of 500 “important” people to control the city and the region for three full days. .

Today this bunker is more than a “museum” of modern history (you can visit it on your own or with a guided tour). It is a space where, in addition, you can live an “scape room” experience and even spend the night in one of the rooms, either double or triple or in community bedrooms. The price range starts at €25 (bed in a shared dormitory), would you dare?

​​Brno bunker hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 11.30am to 6.15pm. Closed on Mondays. Bunker entrance price: €6 (if you visit for free). More information on the webpage.  

 7+1 Villa Tugendhat

In Brno there are several villas of great architectural relevance and historical importance. However, the villa built for the couple Greta and Fritz Tugendhat takes all the prizes for various reasons.

To begin with, it is a mansion designed in a functionalist style that dates from 1929 and the house is considered a key work of modern architecture.

In addition, the building is part of the Unesco World Heritage Site for its architecture, but also for its history, since it was in its rooms that the separation of the former Czechoslovakia was negotiated in 1992.

Currently you can take a tour of its different rooms through a guided tour that lasts 90 minutes. I put it as 7+1 because, to be honest, it didn’t fascinate me and it’s not in the center, but you have to take the tram (although it’s close, it will take about 10-15 minutes) and I thought it would have I spent that time on other things.

However, I know that this town has a brutal historical weight and that people queue up and wait months to see it, but it did not convince me (perhaps it was because I took a guided tour in German -although they gave me a brochure in Spanish-, but I think I missed a lot of the explanations).

​​Hours: from March to October it opens from Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 6pm and from November to February it opens from Tuesday to Sunday from 9am to 5pm. Entrance: the price starts at €2 to visit only the garden up to €12 for the complete tour -including the guided tour-. On the Tugendhat website you have more information.

Villa Tugendhat in Brno

Villa Tugendhat in Brno

Although you could take a day trip from Prague, my recommendation is that you stay at least one night in the city so that you can spend two days exploring its main attractions.

What’s more, you could dedicate even more than 48 hours to it since it has more interesting places to see, such as: the Morava Gallery in Brno, the National Theater, the Brno Dam, the science center or the observatory and planetarium of the city ( just to mention a few).

 Hotel in Brno

If you finally listen to me and decide to spend at least one night, I can recommend the hotel where I stayed: “Hotel Passage”.

It is located less than 10 minutes on foot from the historic center , it has cozy, modern rooms with some little details that freak me out, such as having an electric kettle with infusions or a robe and slippers…

In addition to the Hotel Passage, in Brno there are countless options for all tastes, wallets and needs… there are accommodations from €9 per night!

Hotel Passage in Brno

How to get to Brno

The Moravian capital is only 200km from Prague and it is very easy to get to -as well as cheap-.

From Prague you can take a train to Brno, the ticket costs from €7 and the journey takes about 3 hours. You can also opt for the bus , the ticket is a little cheaper (from €5) and it takes less than 2.5 hours to make the journey.

You can also reach Brno very easily from Olomouc. There is a bus that leaves you at your destination in 1 hour.

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