Moravia and Silesia
How the Baroque Beauty was Born
It is a historical paradox that the beauty of Baroque Olomouc was born from great suffering and almost complete destruction of everything that used to be there. However, that makes the value of local sites even higher. They are an expression of determination, resilient will to live and spiritual power.
When the Swedish army left the city after eight years in 1650, it was in ruins. About a quarter of the seven hundred city houses were inhabitable. Only 1,765 inhabitants out of 30,000 remained here. Some of them even proposed not to fight destiny and change the old city into a village. But that did not happen. On the contrary, Olomouc was gradually transformed into one of the most perfect bastion fortresses in the entire Habsburg monarchy after 1655. The six Baroque fountains with figurative decorations inspired by ancient Rome became the symbol of revival and one of the most beautiful monuments in today’s Olomouc. The fountains of Hercules, Jupiter, Mars and other figures are accompanied by a modern one, Arion’s fountain from 2002, and the fountain of the Live Water Spring of St. Jan Sarkandr in the courtyard of the neo-Baroque palace of St. Sarkandr.
Fountain of the Live Water Spring of St. Jan Sarkandr in the courtyard of the neo-Baroque palace of St. Sarkandr
The three cupolas of the Baroque Church of St. Michael is one of the dominants of the city, and its rich interior decoration is also impressive.
To honour the legend of the founder of the city, the Olomouc citizens also had the beautiful Caesar fountain built in the Baroque period. It is believed that around the year 57 B.C., a group of Roman soldiers led by Julius Caesar came to this area. On the hill above the Morava River, where the Olomouc Castle was later built, they built a fortress called Julimontium, or Julius’ Hill (from which the name Olomouc comes). When a routine archaeological survey took place in 2001 before the construction of a road in the Neředín quarter, no-one expected that the archaeologists would find the remains of a Roman military camp and even fragments of Roman bricks and roofing in the city centre. Two thousand years later, the legend was proven true.
The Holy Trinity plague column in Olomouc has been registered on the UNESCO list of world heritage since 2000. It is the largest collection of Baroque statues in Central Europe but it also has a symbolic meaning for the inhabitants of Olomouc.
The plague column, registered on the UNESCO list of world heritage in 2000, is probably the most significant work of Baroque sculpture in Olomouc. It is over 32 metres high and forms the largest collection of Baroque statues in Central Europe. After its completion, the column became a symbol of pride for the inhabitants of the city because it was built by the citizens of Olomouc. The first couple of the monarchy, Empress Marie Theresa with her husband Francis I, attended its consecration.
When Olomouc was besieged by the Prussian army in 1758, the column was hit by cannon balls several times, and the citizens had the courage to ask the Prussian general not to hit their column. The general was taken by surprise and agreed to spare the column. The whole city defended itself in the end. When you look at the column, try to find a golden-plated replica of a cannon ball – it is a reminder of how brave Olomouc citizens were.