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Ostrava Czech Republic is the capital of the Moravian-Silesian Region and, while the country’s third-largest city, a little off the beaten path. After an industrial past, Ostrava is on a path of revitalization which makes it an interesting stop on your itinerary. There are many things to do in Ostrava and besides, who wouldn’t want to visit a city whose logo looks like this: OSTRAVA!!!
And those exclamation marks? They represent the dynamism, energy and self-confidence of Ostrava and its people. Do you notice those qualities as you explore the streets of Ostrava Czech Republic?
7 Unique Things To Do In Ostrava Czech Republic
1. Dolní Vítkovice (DOV)
Dolní Vítkovice is Ostrava’s most unique place to visit. The revitalization of this former industrial complex is a tribute to preserving the city’s industrial heritage. It is an incredible sight to see today, in part to appreciate the massive size of the mining complex and also to bear witness to the vision of creating this area as an active living space for residents and tourists alike.
Dolní Vítkovice, between 1828 and 1998, was an industrial centre where coal was mined and pig iron produced. It is hard to believe that the former gasholder has been revamped and is now a Multifunctional Auditorium Gong (the round building in the photo below) holding conferences and other activities. There are definitely some visionaries in Ostrava Czech Republic!
The Bolt Tower, named to honour Ostrava’s connection with the Olympic gold-medalist sprinter Usain Bolt, was blast furnace #1! Riding to the top of it in a skip hoist where raw materials use to be loaded, almost 80 metres high, provides incredible views of the entire complex and the Beskydy Mountains.
Take the tour of Dolní Vítkovice. I rode the hoist all the way to the top with a chaperone and a mandatory hard hat but was solo while up there (it’s HIGH UP) and not exactly sure what I was looking at!
There is also a Science and Technology Centre.
Try to time your visit during the summer music festival called the Colours of Ostrava when Dolní Vítkovice is full of live music.
I am not sure I appreciate the uniqueness of this former plant in Ostrava Czech Republic. Nor the process of what was produced here – coal mining, coke and pig iron production – but I can gawk at the sheer magnitude of the premises and imagine the noise, heat and the men working here to produce 200 million tonnes of raw material over 162 years.
How about a day trip to Tromezí where you can be in 3 countries, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland, all within minutes? And the bonus is the stunning countryside!
2. Masaryk Square in Ostrava Czech Republic
Masaryk Square, right in the middle of Ostrava Czech Republic, is named after Tomáš Masaryk who was the first elected president of Czechoslovakia in 1918. The colourful buildings surrounding the town square seem to kindly invite you to relax, people watch and have a coffee. The Ostrava museum is housed in the Old Town Hall (yellow building) which served as Ostrava’s Town Hall for over 400 years, surviving several fires.
3. New Town Hall
Another thing to do in Ostrava is to visit the New Town Hall, which is not all that new. New Town Hall is the largest town hall in the Czech Republic and has the tallest tower. Start your visit here as there is tourist information available. Then take the two elevators to the top of the tower. Find yourself 73 metres high on the observation deck with vistas all the way to Poland! This is a popular attraction! On a Friday night, there was a line up for the second elevator. Not to worry there is a small souvenir shop to peruse while you wait!
If you are super fit and into races, you could join the twice-yearly race of 410 steps straight up to the top of the tower!
4. Ostrava Gallery of Fine Art
This unassuming building is tucked behind a construction zone. However, one of the hidden treasures of Ostrava Czech Republic is waiting to be seen. The art gallery houses works from the Old Masters as well as some Czech modern art. But the crowning glory, in my opinion, is the Gustav Klimt painting.
Painted in 1904 by the Austrian master, this glistening golden painting, called Judith, hangs quietly in the Ostrava Gallery. Having just seen a Klimt art and light show in Paris, this was quite the find!
5. Coffee Culture in Ostrava Czech Republic
Ostrava, back in the 1930’s, had more coffee houses than Prague. How impressive. Viennese in style, with large arched windows where one could sit and read the newspaper, they were a place to visit and discuss the daily news with friends.
There was an overabundance of men in Ostrava Czech Republic due to the mining industry and the coffee shops provided a place for them to socialize. There were enough coffee shops to cater to 1500 people. Many of these have long since gone into disrepair or are being used for other purposes. Ostrava’s coffee culture is slowly returning but in the American style.
6. Spot Historical Clues in Ostrava
While on the lookout for antiquated arched coffee shop windows also keep your eyes open for clues to Ostrava’s past. Before WWII, Ostrava Czech Republic was a cultural mosaic of Germans, Austrians, Poles and Czechs. People of different religious denominations, including Jews, lived mostly in harmony.
Before WWII, ten thousand Jews lived in Ostrava. Two thousand survived.
Karel Reisz was born in Ostrava, Czech Republic. Just before WWII, he was one of 669 Jewish-Czech refugees rescued by Sir Nicholas Winton. Under Czech Kindertransport, Reisz, at age twelve, arrived in England without speaking a word of English. His parents did not survive Auschwitz.
Karel Reisz became a director, his most famous film being “The French Lieutenant’s Woman.” This plaque stands proudly over the doorway of the home where Reisz was born. He is the little one on the right.
As a participant in the TBEX (Travel Bloggers) Conference in July 2018, I took part in a free walking tour around Ostrava. I would highly recommend asking at the tourism centre in New Town Hall for a guided tour.
7. Raise a Glass
And lastly, you are in the Czech Republic where the most beer per capita is consumed in the world!
So raise a glass of local beer (Ostrava) on Stodolní Street or overlooking the Ostravice River!
More Travel Info
Plan Your Trip to the Czech Republic using this resource and this one will help with this resource
How to Get to Ostrava Czech Republic:
If you are coming from Prague there are many trains that make the three-hour journey.
Stations: Note that there are 2 train stations in Ostrava Czech Republic. The first station coming from the direction of Prague is Ostrava střed. The central station is the next stop Ostrava hl.n. which stands for hlavní nádraží. Check with your accommodation as to which station to use. There are trams right out front the central station.
Both Regiojet and Leo Express offer bus service as well.
Also, try the bus line Flixbus for cheap travel on many routes in Europe.
In and Around Ostrava:
Trams will take you wherever you need to go in Ostrava. Tap your card or buy a ticket at the tram stop. Remember to validate your ticket once you are on the tram!
Accommodation in Ostrava Czech Republic:
There are many places to stay in Ostrava.
Hotel VP1 is where I stayed as it was right where my conference was (Dolní Vítkovice) and the rates were great. Definitely a basic hotel but it did the trick and included breakfast. It is several tram stops out of downtown. Next time I would stay more central.
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