Horní Náměstí

sights / Architecture

Horní Náměstí information

Olomouc , Czech Republic
Address
Street Horní Náměstí
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Lonely Planet review

The splendid, polymorphous town hall (radnice) in the middle of Horní Náměstí was built in 1378, though its present architectural style and needlelike tower date from 1607. Note the oriel window of the 15th-century chapel on the south side and don't miss the astronomical clock on the north side, remodelled in communist style so that each hour is announced by ideologically pure workers instead of pious saints. The best display is at midday.

The square is surrounded by a jaw-dropping roll call of historic façades and contains two of the city's six baroque fountains. The Hercules fountain (Herkulova kašna) dates from 1688 and features the muscular Greek hero standing astride a pit of writhing serpents. To the east of the town hall, the Caesar fountain (Caeserova kašna) was built in 1724 and is Olomouc's biggest. During the communist era the Roman emperor straddling his horse was crowned with a single red star; proof that the Nazis were not the only totalitarian regime to co-opt the essence of ancient Rome.

Olomouc's tradition of building fountains was continued in 2002 when a seventh fountain was erected in Horní nám featuring turtles and a rampant dolphin. A few rascally locals claim that rubbing the head of the turtle nearest the Holy Trinity column will bring you good luck. Try it and see.

Down Opletalova is Olomouc's original parish church, the vast St Moritz cathedral (chrám sv Mořice). Thoroughly Gothic, it was built between 1412 and 1540. The western tower is a remnant of its 13th-century predecessor. The cathedral's amazing island of peace is shattered every September with an International Organ Festival (the cathedral's own organ is Moravia's mightiest).