Brno with 400 000 inhabitants is the second biggest city in the Czech Republic. Even though it's not a large city, it still has things to offer, no matter whether you're just passing by or planning to live here permanently.
I'm also very glad I could write this article for you because as a Brno-born person, I'm not really good at all this touristy attractions and sights. I could probably tell you more about sightseeing in London than in Brno. This made me look a bit into the history of Brno, so thank you, dear readers, for it. :)
Ok, enough with the sentimentality, here is my top 10 list:
#1 Dam lake and firework festival
Every year in spring there is an international firework exhibition at the Brno dam lake called Ignis Brunensis (latin for Fire of Brno). There are many other activities and events accompanying the fireworks and the whole festival will be held between 25/05 and 14/06. More on the events can be found on the official website (available also in English): http://www.ignisbrunensis.cz/.
If you're not in Brno in this time, don't worry. The dam lake area is very nice in every season. Either take a walk around it, or use the opportunity for a great hiking or cycling trip, do some water sports or take the boat.
Not far away from the dam lake is located the Brno ZOO. Even if you don't have children, you should check it out. The location is simply amazing! Unfortunately, they don't have panda bears (as my friend always complains) but many other interesting and cute animals. There are also many educational activities and every day is a commented feeding of some animals. Take a look at the schedule here: http://www.zoobrno.cz/en/animals-in-the-zoo/feeding-of-the-animals/.
#3 Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul
Have you had enough of these modern things? Are you more into history and sightseeing? Good, then Brno has some things to offer to you, too.
The Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul with its 84 meter high towers is Brno's dominant feature. The building is in gothic style whereas the interior is mostly in baroque. The building began in the 12th century, but the church underwent several major re-buildings during the centuries.
One interesting point: the bells rung 12 o'clock at 11 in the morning. Why? According to a legend it's a war ruse that helped in a fight against Swedes in the 17th century.
#4 Liberty Square
Probably the most important square in Brno. There are several sights you should see: the Plague Column built in the end of 17th century, the Omega Building, Schwanz Palace, and also the very famous astronomical clock. Every day at 11 o'clock it gives out one little glass ball. There are always many people around it waiting for it, so if you want it, be there early. Because of its shape it has been called many names which I can't reproduce here. I'm sure your imagination is good enough though. :)
#5 Špilberg (Spielberg) Castle
Once a royal home, then a terrifying prison, at last a museum. That's the history of Špilberk in a nutshell. Today you can see many permanent exibitions inclusive the casemates. There is a nice park surrounding the Špilberk caste as well.
The casemates are said to be the most visited tourist place in Brno and I'm sure it's true. I mean, who wouldn't be thrilled by the idea of a secret fortress?
More information on casemates including opening hours can be found here: http://www.spilberk.cz/?pg=zobraz&co=casemates.
Opened in 1998 by the Islamic Foundation in Brno is one out of two mosques in Czech Republic. The second one is located in Prague. The mosque is open even to public but you should always check the schedule of prayers as it's not open 24/7. The architecture is very unique and it's something you wouldn't expect in Brno, so you should check it out. So will I, when I'm back in Brno.
#8 Jewish Cemetery and Skořepka Synagogue
The Jewish Cemetery was founded in 1852 but was built in four stages. There are around 9 000 gravestones. The Skořepka Synagogue was built in the late 1930's in functionalistic style and is currently the only one open and serving its purpose in Moravia and Silesia.
#9 Masaryk Circuit
Here is one attraction that men will probably be interested more in: Masaryk Circuit. The original circuit was made up from public roads that we nowadays normally use. The modern circuit was opened in 1987 and is close to the city, however doesn't include any public roads.The Czech Republic motorcycle Grand Prix has been held there every year since it was opened and every year it attracts many motorcycle fans. This year's races will be held between 23/08/2013 and 25/08/2013. If you're interested, you should probably buy your tickes soon as well as arrange for accomodation!
#10 National theatre
And finally, Brno has something for women as well (but of course, men are welcome as well). The National Theatre in Brno consists of three stages: Mahen Theatre (plays), Janáček Theatre (opera, ballet), and the recently re-opened and reconstructed Reduta Theatre (guest performances).
Of course there are many other places worth seeing in Brno! What sights would you like to see or have you already seen? Which sights would make your top 10?
Picture by zabroda, www.sxc.hu