5 minute guide to Brno: modern landmarks and subterranean secrets in the Czech Republic’s second city

5 minute guide to Brno: modern landmarks and subterranean secrets in the Czech Republic’s second city

Where to drink with the locals: The Czech Republic is famous for its beer and there’s no shortage of excellent drinking spots in Brno. Grab a pint of Pilsner straight from the tank at Lokál U Caipla, taste the local brew at Pivovarská Starobrno, or head to Brno favourite Výčep Na Stojáka for the best of the region’s microbreweries. The name loosely translates to “the standing pub”, so grab a spot at one of the standing tables or enjoy your beer outside in the square.

If beer isn’t your thing, then Super Panda Circus and Bar, Který Neexistuje, (or, as it translates in English, “The Bar That Doesn’t Exist”,) are both an absolute must-visit for cocktail lovers.

The best way to get around the city is: on foot. Brno’s city centre is easy to explore just by walking around, with most sites being within a 10-minute walking radius. If you’re planning to venture further out, the local bus and tram systems are inexpensive and easy to navigate.

Best view over the city: Špilberk Castle. Dating back to the 13th century, the castle offers 360-degree views of Brno and the surrounding area. Located on a hill above the city, you’ll be able to get great shots of the Cathedral of St Peter and Paul and the AZ Tower, the tallest building in the Czech Republic.

For design inspiration head to: Villa Tugendhat, one of the Czech Republic’s top cultural sites. Designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Lily Reich and constructed in the late 1920s, this building pioneered modern architecture in Europe. Aside from its groundbreaking design, Villa Tugendhat shot to fame again in 1992, when the leaders of Czechoslovakia met there to sign the document that would split the country into two: the modern-day Czech Republic and Slovakia. In 2001, it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Due to its significance and popularity, tours of the villa are booked out several months in advance, so be sure to get tickets early if you’re planning to visit.

The must-have Instagram snap is: The Cathedral of St Peter and Paul perched atop Petrov Hill. There are plenty of spots in the city to get great snaps of the city’s most famous landmark, but for the best shots, head to Kapucínské Náměstí and Špilberk Castle. Brno’s curiously-shaped astronomical clock in the city’s main square, Náměstí Svobody, is another Instagram favourite— for reasons which become obvious once you see it for yourself.

What you didn’t know about local history: Brno has many secrets hiding below its streets. The Ossuary at the Church of St James is the second-largest in all of Europe, after the Parisian catacombs. Founded in the 17th century, the ossuary was long forgotten and only rediscovered in 2001, when architects found the remains of what is an estimated 50,000 people buried there. Further down the street, the Capuchin crypt provides another eerie experience, featuring the mummified remains of Capuchin monks.

There’s also an extensive labyrinth located under the vegetable market, Zelný Trh. A market has been held in this area since the 13th century, and subterranean cellars were gradually created beneath the square as storage space for merchants and surrounding buildings.

Your favourite obscure local fact: Visitors to Brno’s town hall may be surprised to find a full-size, taxidermied crocodile hanging from the ceiling in the passageway below its Late Gothic turret. Also known as the Brno dragon, legend has it that the crocodile terrorised the city until a local butcher had the ingenious idea to slay the beast. The unlikely hero created a trap for the “dragon” by creating a sack covered in fur and filled with lime. Tricked into mistaking the lime-filled bag for a tasty animal snack, the crocodile ate the cunning decoy. Legend says that the lime made the crocodile so thirsty that it guzzled gallons of water, until its stomach eventually burst. The citizens celebrated by having the animal’s body preserved and put on display for all to see.

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