Ostrava – Steel Heart of the Republic
Ostrava is the third largest town in the Czech Republic and the second largest urban agglomeration after the Czech capital city Prague. The city has been largely affected by exploitation and further use of black coal. Many of the heavy industry companies have closed down or transformed. For many people, Ostrava is inhospitable, industrial and dirty. It seems the situation is not as bad now. Ostrava is full of contrast and heading to a better future.
Facts and numbers
Ostrava got its name after the river Ostravice. The root of the word Ostrava “ostrá”, meaning sharp. The City is located in the north-eastern area of the Czech Republic, very close to the Polish and Slovak borders. The local climate is continental temperate, with warm summers and cold winters.
Country: Czech Republic
Population: 304, 136
Density: 1,500 / km2
Area: 214 km2
Ostrava equals black coal
Ostrava was an important crossroad of prehistoric trading routes. Archaeological exccavations have proved that the area around Ostrava has been continuously inhabited for 25,000 years. In the Stone Age mammoth hunters had an encampment at the top of Landek Hill. The most significant discovery was a figurine of a woman’s torso made from hematite called the Petrkovice Venus. Archaeologists have found evidence that prehistoric hunters used coal from exposed seams on the surface as fuel. It is the first evidence of the use of black coal in the world. The last coal was mined on 30th June 1994 and all the collieries have been closed. Forty thousand miners and steelworkers have been fired. Unemployment is still one of the biggest problems in the region and also the main reason for young people to leave the city and move to different parts of our republic.
If you love sightseeing, art, galleries, museums and cultural events
The oldest building in Ostrava, St. Wenceslas Church, was founded in 13th century. Its appearance was changed during the centuries because of two extensive fires and because people wanted to have a church in style, which was modern at their age, Gothic, Renaissance or Baroque style.
Museum of Ostrava is placed in the Old Town Hall, which was built in the 16th century. On display are is the local history of Ostrava, the nature of the region, mining exhibitions and many others. Its singular feature and pride item is the 225 cm tall indoor astronomical clock called the Mašek Clock. It boasts 51 different functional features and consists of four dials: clock, calendar, astronomical and planetary dials.
The New Town Hall was built in 1925 and finally opened in October 1930. The New Town Hall has a 72 metres high tower which provides visitors a panoramic view of the whole city and its surroundings. In clear weather it’s possible to see the Beskids and Jeseníky mountains. There are also 4 statues symbolizing 4 functions of the city – mining, metallurgy, business and science.
The first written mention of the Silesian – Ostravian Castle comes from 1297. In 1534, the gothic castle was rebuilt into a renaissance chateau. Since the 1930s the castle was in the possession of Wieczkovs and now it is a private estate used especially for weddings, concerts and theatre performances. It is also one of the most historic and cultural monuments of the city Ostrava.
A popular attraction is Stodolní Street, near the center. Full of bars, pubs and clubs, bringing night-life to the city and thousands of visitors all year long. There are currently around 60 places to have a drink or dance on this street, each with its own style and atmosphere.
Ostrava is the city with the highest number of theatres per capita. You can visit one of the most favourite five: Antonín Dvořák´s Theatre, Jiří Myron´s Theatre, Petr Bezruč´s Theatre, Arena Theatre, children’s choice Pupil Theatre or many others, depending on what style you prefer.
In Ostrava there are also more than 20 galleries (Shagal Gallery, The House of Arts), 5 museums and unique technical landmarks, such as Lower Vítkovice Area, the Michal Min, and Landek Park, with its Mining Museum exhibition, which has no match within the entire Czech Republic and it is part of the UNESCO heritage.
The Ostrava ZOO is now one of the biggest ZOO’s in Central Europe. It was opened in 1951 with only eight animals. Since that time, it has expanded to include 230 species of animals placed on the 3 km2 area. The most favourite children attraction is the Petting Zoo, where children can go right to the exhibition to feed goats and sheep. The Ostrava zoo was the first in the Czech Republic to see the birth of an elephant. Two elephants were born in 2011, one of them passed away.
The Ema Heap is made up of mining waste material from The Trinity Colliery. It is 82 ha and contains some 4 mil. cube meters of dirt. Spontaneous ignition appeared deep in its bowels in the 1960s and the invisible fire still keeps burning. Inside temperature reach up to 1,500 °C creating suitable habitats for steppe species of fauna and flora along the dump limits.
The biggest event of the year is a summer music festival Colours of Ostrava, which is every June hosting many famous star musicians and groups from all over the world.