Ostrava in the Czech Republic puts on the style

Masaryk Square

Masaryk Square

OSTRAVA has had a massive makeover – and is now getting the attention it deserves.

Wait a minute. Where?

You’d be excused for having to look Ostrava up on a map of Europe – it’s so new as a holiday and city break destination, we’re convinced you feel like an early pioneer as you discover its beautiful, reborn squares and streets. But you’ll be glad you did.

It’s all a far cry from its heavy industrial past. It’s not forgotten its heritage – it celebrates its hard-working reputation all over the city – but it’s also been reinvented as a modern, vibrant, exciting city with every modern amenity you’d expect in even the most fashionable European cities.

ONE DAY IN OSTRAVA IS NOT ENOUGH!

There aren’t many places where you head eagerly for a disused steelworks complex the minute you get there but Ostrava is different to most places. The Lower Vítkovice Area is home to the former industrial complex which is now an impressive technology museum.

But you didn’t come to Ostrava to study technology – even if the museum does have great interactive displays of Jules Verne-inspired adventures. You came to discover this fascinating city and if you ride the special lift to the top of the historic blast furnace you get the most amazing panoramic views of the area.

While you’re here you might as well learn a bit about the place. A guided tour will show you various parts of this amazingly well-preserved industrial complex, built by the legendary Rothschild family and including the ‘Gong’ – a stunning new multipurpose hall created by converting a historic gasholder.

If you want to hang around, Lower Vítkovice has enough sights and activities to fill a whole day, but if you fancy a change from all things industrial, head into town to explore the new Karolina quarter and Ostrava’s historic city centre, and enjoy a relaxing stroll along the banks of the Ostravice River.

The Information Centres dotted about will help you plan your stay. There you can buy tickets for public transport, collect maps and leaflets, and ask for up-to-date information on any aspect of your visit (www.ostravainfo.cz).

SEE THE SIGHTS

Here’s a whistle-stop tour of all the major attractions in Ostrava:

The New City Hall has the highest viewing tower (věž) in the country.

The World of Miniatures (Miniuni), where you can travel all around the globe in a single afternoon.

The Fairytale Clock (Pohádkový orloj) casts its magic spell every two hours from 8am to 8pm. Look up at the windows of Ostrava’s Puppet Theatre to see a two-minute performance. For a truly magical atmosphere, come in the evening when the clock is illuminated.

The Silesian Ostrava Castle (Slezskoostravký hrad) is at the meeting point of the Ostravice and Lucina rivers in very heart of the city, just a short walk from Masaryk Square. Over the years the castle has sunk 16 metres due to the collapse of underground mine tunnels.

Ostrava’s legendary entertainment district Stodolní Street, with over 60 bars, clubs, pubs, restaurants and much more long into the night – truly the street which never sleeps.

The Ostrava Zoo is a must – among the appealing residents is Ostrava’s very own little elephant Rashmi.

The Michal Coal Mine (Dul Michal) offers tours of the best-preserved former mine in the city. The tour follows the same route taken by miners when arriving at work.

The Landek Park mining museum takes you on an interactive tour of the historic Anselm coal mine, with a former miner as your guide.

Last but not least, there is the Ema Slag-Heap (Halda Ema), an artificial hill made of the land dug to create local mines. On the right bank of the Ostravice River, at 315 metres above sea level, this secret corner of Ostrava offers a subtropical climate. The snow never settles in winter, while flowers bloom all year round. Smoke and steam rise up from cracks in the ground from the heat of the moved earth beneath – it’s like Ostrava’s very own volcano right in the heart of the city. But don’t worry. It’s not going to erupt!

For more info, visit www.ostrava.cz, www.ostravainfo.cz, www.filmostrava.cz and www.conventionostrava.cz

WHERE TO STAY

Ostrava offers a wide range of accommodation options for all budgets. There are four-star luxury in the city centre and plenty of three-star hotels, guest houses and hostels throughout the city. For detailed information, go to www.ostrava.cz, choose your language, and then click on the Tourism/Accommodation section.

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