Circuit in Czech Republic

The City of Brno, Czech Republic's second largest city

The tradition of motorcycle racing in Brno dates back to 1930 on the 'City Circuit'. The first Czechoslovakian Grand Prix was held at Brno in 1965, with the 500cc class raced over thirteen laps of the original 13.94 km long road circuit. The current circuit was first used for GP racing in 1987 and hosted the Czechoslovakian GP through until 1991.

Known originally as the Masaryk circuit, in Czech, Masarykuv okruh or Masarykring, now called the Brno Circuit. It was two different motorsport race tracks near to the city of Brno.

The original street circuit was made up of public roads, and at its longest measured nearly 19 miles (31 km). In the 1930s, events such as the Masaryk Grand Prix attracted top teams and riders from all over the world. The track is so-named after the first president of Czechoslovakia, Tomas Masaryk. Racing on the old roads ended after 1986, when the new current circuit opened.

The event was revived in 1993 as the Grand Prix of the Czech Republic and has taken place every year since. The only venue to have hosted more Grand Prix events than Brno being Assen, in the Netherlands. Races at Brno attract large crowds and in recent years the presence of local riders such as Lukas Pesek, Karel Abraham and Jakub Kornfeil have added to the excitement of this historic Grand Prix.

The world's most famous riders have taken part in GP events in Brno since 1930, where up until 1982 they would race through the villages and western parts of the city on a road track named after the first Czechoslovak President - T.G. Masaryk. A new circuit was built during the 1980s with the aim of attracting Formula 1 to Czechoslovakia, and in 1987 it played host to the FIM Czech Grand Prix. Popular with both fans and riders, the new circuit is built in a natural bowl which is banked in places to offer spectators an excellent view. Brno constantly changes in elevation as it sweeps across forested hillsides and its fast undulating corners test rider talent and engineering to the limit.

Brno, Czech Republic

The Czech Republic is a beautiful country with a varied landscape, and thanks to its location in the heart of Europe, it is easily accessible to visitors. The country offers plenty to be discovered in its mountains and forests, in its historic cities, and its 12 UNESCO heritage sights.

In addition, the Czech Republic has a long tradition of sporting success, gaining international glory in tennis, ice hockey, football and motorsport.

Prague, the capital city of the Czech Republic, is situated in central Bohemia. This is a picturesque medieval city, with a romantic atmosphere and a historical city centre, where you can enjoy the sunset above the Charles Bridge which connects Prague Castle to the Old Town. Visitors and locals also enjoy strolling along the Vltava river to the park at Petrin Hill or browsing the many shops and boutiques of Prikop and Parizska Streets.

Brno is the second largest city in the Czech Republic, and also well-known for its beautiful city centre and vivid nightlife. This is a dynamic and fast-evolving city which is becoming increasingly recognised as an attractive place to visit.

It has nice restaurants, cocktail bars and Brno's best nightspots in the historic city centre, Luzanky Park and Mendel Square.

In trendy areas such as the city centre or Veveri there are plenty of hotels, plus there are apartments and lots of bed and breakfast establishments.

Exploring Brno and Czech Republic

Brno is the capital of the South Moravian region and there is never a lack of things to do here. During the day, you can admire architectural treasures like the Villa Tughenhat, a UNESCO heritage site, and the Petr and Pavel Cathedral - then spend some time in a relaxing park nearby. If you want to experience the evening atmosphere of Brno, head to a pub on the Jakubskeho namesti (St. Jacob's Square). Within a few minutes' walk of the square there more local bars, each of which offers quality Czech beer and traditional food.

For a more relaxed evening head to the little square in front of the Janacek Theatre and enjoy the colourful, dancing rainbow fountain. Or perhaps take a romantic walk up to the Spielberg Castle, stroll around the castle walls and enjoy the beautiful view of the entire city at sunset.

The "Prygl", Brno Reservoir is nearby and a good place to visit, especially during the Firework Challenge. You can take a boat trip to the Veveri Castle, or go running, cycling or swimming. You can even rent a paddle boat and take in the beautiful natural surroundings.

The South-Moravian region is also famous for vineyards and wine cellars. During summer, many of the family-owned cellars offer wine tasting sessions.

Also, nearby is Lednice, where a marvelous chateau is surrounded by a peaceful park with a maze for children. A 15-minute drive from Lednice is the historic town of Mikulov, whilst to the north east of Brno is Macocha Abyss which is best experienced on a boat trip.

Brno is the Czech Republic's second city and has a hardworking reputation, although commerce is a just a small part of this quirky city's story. Set where the Svitava and Svratka Rivers meet, Brno was capital of Moravia from the 1100s right up to the communist era. Naturally, a lot of heritage remains, and you can take in a great deal of Gothic and baroque sights on the cobblestone streets of the Old Town. But what really gives Brno its identity is its devotion to the weird, wonderful and downright creepy. Let us explain, in our run down of the best things to do in Brno.

Villa Tugendhat

Villa Tugendhat is a historical building in the wealthy neighbourhood of Cerna Pole. The Villa of Greta and Fritz Tugendhat. The Villa Tugendhat amongst the top buildings of the world with Le Corbusier's Villa Savoye in Paris as a prototype for modern architecture. It's considered an icon of modern architecture.

Built from 1928-30, it was designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and is a UNESCO-listed masterwork of functionalism. This building changed the game thanks to its open floor plan and wall-sized rear windows. Villa Tugendhat's history is as important as its design. The Tugendhats were a Jewish couple and were forced to flee Brno after 1938. The villa became a base for the Gestapo, and then as quarters for the Soviet army. It wasn't until 1967 that Greta Tugendhat returned and the restoration process began.

The Old Town Hall

Here you get an idea of Brno's enduring sense of fun, as well as a neat view of the city from the roost of the tower. On approach you might notice that one of the turrets on the Town Hall's decorative facade looks a bit skewed. The story goes that Anton Pilgram, the building's architect was screwed out of money by Brno's City Council and his payback was to mess with the design. The other version holds that he was simply too drunk to get it right. The building goes back to the 1200s, and formed part of the city defences during the famous siege by Swedish forces in 1645.

You can walk around the Old Town Hall's grounds. It's a good few stairs to reach the top but there's a small collection of artefacts to browse on the way up. On a clear day, the views from the top are incredible!

Freedom Square

Probably the most popular square in Brno, is Freedom Square, which is boarded with shops, bars and restaurants and features some stunning colourful buildings, beautiful sculptures and a giant water feature. It's also home to Brno's famous 'bullet' clock. If you visit just before 11am, you'll be able to see it in action!

The Bullet Clock

In the Freedom Square, you'll see the 'Bullet' Clock. This giant black statue represents a bullet and links to the 1645 battle of Brno in which the town fought off the Swedish army using sneaky tactics. The Swedes had said if they didn't conquer the town by 12pm, they would abandon the fight. So, the people of Brno chimed the midday bells an hour earlier which signified the end of the battle! In honour of this, the bells chime from within the clock at 11am every day.

A strange addition involves the release of a small glass ball when the bells chime. There are four slots around the bottom of the clock where you can place your hands to try and catch this ball. As there are only four holes, you'll need to get there a bit before 11am to hear the 12 chimes.

Gregor Mendel's Abbey and Museum

Where you can learn about genetics

Just next to the Capuchin Church is the Mendel Museum, situated within an authentic Augustinian Abbey, the place of work of scientist Gregor Johann Mendel who was a monk now considered the 'Father of Genetics' after his discoveries related to genetics and heredity.

The godfather of genetics spent almost his whole life in Brno, and stands today as one of the 19th century's most important scientists. At the Abbey of Saint Thomas you can visit the garden in which he conducted his famed experiments on pea plants that helped him discover the secrets of heredity. For a bit more insight, the Mendel Museum outside the old town has detailed exhibits that shed light on his methods, and how early experiments breeding mice attracted the disapproval of the church. You can also find out about his experiments in the field of beekeeping, but these have made a less impact on the course of history.

Spilberk Castle

Just outside the city centre, you'll find the Spilberk Castle, with views that are great in the sunshine! The castle was established around the mid-13th century, built on a steep, rocky hill (290 m), peering down on to the town's historical centre. It's pretty stunning to see up close - its just so enormous! Once at the top, you get great views of the city and the countryside. It's huge and there is a lot to see!

As the seat of the rulers of Moravia, this building has been around for almost as long as Brno has existed. And as you might expect this has left the structure with a range of styles, from Romanesque to baroque. It's a large hilltop fortress that has served all sorts of roles and seen a lot of action in its time. Like the Town Hall Spilberk Castle helped repel the Swedish Army during a siege in the Thirty Years' War in the 1600s. At this time it also doubled as a prison to house and torture protestants, given that Brno was a catholic city. You'll learn at the museum here why Spilberk was a no place to end up if you belonged to the wrong denomination.

Zackuv rodinny dum Modern Architecture

Alongside Villa Tugendhat, Brno had a design boom in the early-20th century when some of the most beautiful landmarks beyond the old town were built. Brno has some 70 functionalist buildings. Real architecture buffs can download a list and track them down on a walking tour. If you're willing to put in the legwork you'll be rewarded with some memorable yet unfrequented sights, nearly all of which continue to serve their intended public and residential roles. In Brno-center keep an eye out for Zackuv rodinny dum, Basova vila, Haasova vila, state of the art residences built for Brno's elite in the 20s and 30s.

Observe a traditional Moravian Village scene

In the same courtyard that houses entry to the Capuchin Crypt, there is also an option to visit a Moravian village and Nativity scene illustrating rural life in the 19th century. There's demonstrations of contemporary artisans and scenes of traditional rural events. One of the events includes a pig slaughter.

Brno's Underground Torture chamber

A maze of tunnels and chambers sits underneath the Cabbage Market in the old town. In 2011 these were opened to the public as part of a compelling 40-minute walking tour. The square above dates back to the 1200s and many of the passageways that weave underneath are also from this time. You'll see how food was preserved here in the medieval era, visit an historic wine cellar, and will also be able to peruse an authentic alchemist's laboratory. As ever in historic Brno, there's a dark side. Looming underground is a real pillory, a public torture device for criminals in the middle ages.

Zelny Trh, The Cabbage Market

The market place is in a square in the old town, that has been in use since the 1200s. You can buy vegetables at this farmers' market.

In the centre is the Parnas Fountain with its statue of Hercules. It is said that in old times fishmongers showcased their stock by letting their carp swim in the fountain waters.

On the south side is the Reduta Theatre is a concert hall that goes back to renaissance times. In 1767 an 11-year-old Mozart performed here with his sister.

Building 21

Situated in the Zelny Trh (the Cabbage Market) square, Building 21 is home to an underground labyrinth. After a much needed renovation a few years back, it has been open to the public since 2011. This large maze of underground tunnels and rooms is home to a number of mysterious nooks and crannies and medieval cellars, complete with historical and mock artefacts. The tunnels run underneath Brno's oldest square and each guided tour takes you into food cellars, past oak barrels used for wine, through the evolution of lighting, past an alchemist laboratory and moreā€¦ finishing in a traditional Moravian 'pub'. You have to go underground with a guide (tours run every hour) and there are audio devices if you don't speak Czech. Tickets were 80 Koruna for students and 160 for adults.

Cathedral of Saint Peter and Paul Brno

This Cathedral is on top of Petrov Hill. The cathedral dates back to the 11th and 12th centuries, when a Romanesque chapel was built on the top of a hill. At the end of the 12th century, a small church with an apse and a crypt was built there, and in the 13th century it was expanded into a Romanesque basilica, the remains of which were discovered during an archaeological study of the cathedral at the end of the 20th century; the site is now open to the public.

The church was then rebuilt in the early Gothic style and made a provost church and a collegiate chapter. The artist behind the 18th-century Baroque interior was architect Moric Grimm. The current main altar was created at the end of the 19th century. The 'Kapistranka' pulpit located on the left side of the hall is a remarkable piece of art; it is named after the Franciscan friar St John of Capistrano, who preached in Brno in the second half of 1451. The bells on the cathedral towers ring at 11 am instead of at noon in remembrance of a legendary trick that Jean-Louis Raduit de Souches played on the Swedish army.

The Church of Saint James

A beautiful national monument, this church has survived intact for almost the last 500 years and dates originally to the 1200s. It's a lovely Gothic building, with soaring vaulted ceilings, but recent excavations have uncovered a rather sinister feature underground.

If you dare you can step down to what is the largest ossuary in Europe after the Catacombs in Paris. It opened its doors in 2012 and is crammed with the remains of some 50,000 people, their bones and skulls arranged in ornamental designs and stacks.

The Brno Dam

Also known as the Brno Reservoir, this expanse of water is just outside of the main city centre.By day people flock to the wooded shores of the reservoir in summer for boating, water sports and bike rides. You can walk along the Dam or go for a boat or ferry trip on the Brno Reservoir.

If you go to the Brno dam after sunset at the end of May, beginning of June you will find teams from around the world who vie for the top awards at the Ignis Brunensis firework competition. This started out as a mere exhibition, in 2003 hi-tech pyrotechnics companies started using the event as a chance to show the marketplace what they could do. This sense of competition is great news for the public, as the increasingly elaborate displays are reflected wonderfully by the waters of the reservoir.

Brno's Luzanky Park

Luzanky Park was the first public park in what is now the Czech Republic, which has earned it national monument status. The Jesuits played a part in its foundation, using these grounds for meditation and rest, and when they were expelled in the late 1790s Luzanky was laid out in the French formal style, later becoming more of a botanic garden with an ornamental stream.

Another nice park is the Denis Gardens it connects Peter and Paul Cathedral with Spilberk Castle. With 19th-century gazebos and an elegant colonnade. There are lookout platforms offering romantic views of Brno.

The Observatory and Planetarium

Situated on the outskirts of Brno city, you'll find the Observatory and Planetarium. With an electronic viewing tower, science exploratorium, astronomical observatory, solar system talks and more.

Quite a few Castles are in or near to Brno

In the beautiful countryside of Brno are the Lednice Castle and the Valtice Castle.

Spilberk Castle

Not far from the city centre, you'll find the Spilberk Castle, with views that are great in the sunshine!

The Kromeriz Castle

Kromeriz will wow you. The castle was actually mainly a residence for bishops, although the Leichtenstein family also had a hand in its development. The landscape, which includes both a magnificently manicured and colourful in summer, Baroque gardens and a sprawling English garden, which are highly enjoyable to walk through on a nice day.

Kromeriz's Flower Garden was established in the late 17th century and is one its main highlights. This Baroque beauty will astonish you. It is one of the of the finest places to experience this exquisite architectural style and amazing garden.

Here the splendid Flower Garden, also known as "Libosad", which is considered to be among the best preserved Baroque gardens in the world. Its perfect geometrical shapes, a variety of statues, sparkling fountains and magnificent colonnades give you a true sense of Baroque beauty.

The Lednice Castle.

In the 17th century, the Lednice Castle became the summer residence of the Liechtenstein family and its interior is as beautiful as its facade. Inside you can visit the rooms, see some of the original pieces of furniture and the impressive one wooden piece carved staircase.

It's a travel into the past, a trip that starts in the castle and ends at the huge gardens with a minaret tower standing solo in the middle of the fields.

The Valtice Castle

The Valtice Castle which is in the middle of a cute town, with an impressive church and a lovely square. The Liechtenstein family was the owner of the Valtice Castle, but nowadays the castle is the home of the National Wine Center.

In Brno is the picturesque Mikulov town, where you can walk around the main square, see the castle and the church. Another beautiful town lost in time.

There are Caves near Brno

You can mix sightseeing, nature, adventure, and exploration around Brno. A visit to the Moravian Karsts.

The Moravian Karst the complex is huge with more than 1100 caverns and gorges. A paradise for people who love caving. There are four caves open to the public. The Moravian is one of the most important karst in Central Europe, an area of 100 square kilometres of limestone.

Through the huge corridors of Punkevni jeskyne [Punkva caves]. The guide explaines about the limestone formation, the beautiful stalactites and stalagmites, ending with a cruise on the underground river. The water from the river is crystal clear. The boat cruised to the bottom of the famous Macocha Abyss, the biggest gorge in Central Europe.

The view is stunning, with the river running calmly and snow hanging on the trees and limestones. The place is beautiful and unique.

The Macocha Abyss

This sinkhole, half an hour north of the city, is like something out of a fantasy movie. The Macocha Abyss is part of the Punkva cave system and draws both serious subterranean adventurers and casual tourists who want to explore the deepest sinkhole in Central Europe. The Abyss came about when the ceiling of a deep cave collapsed, and the feature is part of a vast and labyrinthine network of tunnels that you can navigate on a guided tour on foot and then by boat once you approach the cathedral-like Abyss. In the open air is a trail that snakes through the rocky scenery is favoured by walkers and cyclists.

Dining out in Brno

Brno cuisine is mainly game, beef, pork, duck and chicken, potatoes and dumplings.

Among the favourite Brno meals you can order are, Svickova na smetane. Roasted sirloin in cream sauce, served with dumplings. Roasted Pork with Sauerkraut and Dumplings. Baked Mincemeat with Potatoes. Smoked meat with Spinach or Horseradish sauce.

Roasted Duck or Schnitzel (Both Pork or Chicken) with Potato salad. All served with numerous types of sauces

Game is also popular, hare, wild boar or deer.

A Brno speciality is Smoked catfish served with grated foie gras, a quail egg, and dill, layered with tangy beet root sauce and topped with shaved truffles, this is a more traditional flavoursome Brno dish.

Also Wild "bear" garlic soup with a poached egg, and macadamia nuts. The bear garlic is a local garlic, and more used for the green bits sprouting from the top than the bulbs of the regular garlic. It is a bright green herbal soup

Other Brno specialities include Roasted Tiger Prawns with coconut cream, chili and cucumber salad.

Grilled Duck with foie gras, fresh mango and gingerbread. The sweetness of the mango and gingerbread offset the creaminess of the foie.

Locally caught fish, most common are bass, Turbot fish and carp. Turbot fish and veal sweetbreads are served with artichokes, madeira sauce, lemon, yuzu emulsion, and hazelnuts.

Another speciality dish is Wild Pigeon served with onion puree and balsamic mushrooms.

Sushi is also available in Brno

Tasty Sashimi and beef tenderloin served with tartare, cucumber, avocado and wasabi.

Other Brno specialities are...

Wild red Argentine shrimp, with mango gazpacho, green asparagus, yuzu, and matcha oil and tasty.

Sea Bass with beet root, black sesame, rice powder, hollandaise, and dashi vinaigrette.

For dessert the local favourite is Valrhona Milk Chocolate Bavarois with black current ice cream. a creamy cake, with even more creamy chocolate.

Cafes and Bars in Brno are great for an afternoon coffee or to sip some beer,

Beer and wine in Brno

Brno's biggest brewery is Starobrno. There are many local microbreweries, such as Hauskrecht, Pegas or Moravia that can be found in Brno. Also breweries such as Cerna Hora, Dalesice or Slavkovsky pivovar are from around Brno. Local Brno brewery Krusovice, who brew a beer called Lezak za studena chmeleny. There are some smaller brewers like Bakalar who brew Pilsner Urquell, a dry hopped beers. With 5.2 per cent alcohol, making it one of the stronger beers.

Brno Plzen (Pilsen) beer, Na stojaka a smooth lager beer that is available straight from the tap. Another popular beer is the 'U Alberta' and there are a large selection of craft beers to choose from, all nearby in the market square and the Spilberk Castle.

In Brno the local bars they serve your beer with an appetizer such as Syrova kulicka (cheese ball), Utopenec (pickled sausage) or pickled brie.

Brno has many wine cellars also many Cafes serve wine. You can usually buy a bottle or just a glass of Moravians wine. Typical South-Moravian wine includes Neuburg, Moravian Muscat, Palava, Pinot blanc, Pinot Gris, Silvaner or Veltliner.

Brno nightlife, the streets of Brno come alive at night and a small door can hide an incredible bar. Cocktails, wine, and beers are taken very seriously. From classic to contemporary drinks. There are all the usual discotheques, theatres, music and dance halls.

Interesting to know

The city of Brno has 12 twin cities, namely: Dallas (USA), Kaunas (Lithuania), Kharkiv (Ukraine), Leeds (United Kingdom), Leipzig (Germany), Poznan (Poland), Rennes (France), Sankt Polten (Austria), Stuttgart (Germany), Utrecht (The Netherlands), Vienna (Austria) and Voronezh (Russia).

- Roland Potter