Opava City Tour
Approximate time of the walk without commentary: 60 – 90 min
The city tower, today called Hláska, formerly Clock Tower or German Schmetterhaus, used to be the commercial centre of Opava. The tower used to serve as a watchtower from which events such as fires, markets, or assemblies were announced. Court and town council held meetings on the first floor of the building. The original wooden tower was destroyed in 1561 by gale and fire. In its stead a new four-sided brick tower with a three-storey dome was built in the years 1614–1618 by the architect Kryštof Prochhuber from Opava. In 1618 the dome was equipped with a bell made by the bellfounder Strum. The tower got its current form during the last general overhaul in the years 1902–1903. The architect Rudolf Srnetz merged modern features with historical features into one harmonious whole. On the ground floor of the building there used to be a café and branch bank, on the first floor there was a museum. Today Hláska is the seat of the Municipal Authority in Opava
2. SILESIAN THEATRE
The foundation stone of the Silesian Theatre was laid on 1 May 1804, the construction was completed on 1 October 1805. In the years 1882–1883 the theatre underwent a reconstruction according to Eduard Labitzský’s project. The interior was reconstructed by Ferdinand Moser in 1909 following a great fire. The facade was renovated in 1945. In 1957 a new administrative building was added to the original building. In 1990–1992 a general overhaul brought back the original historicizing facade. The Silesian Theatre Opava has two ensembles – drama and opera.
3. CO-CATHEDRAL OF THE ASSUMPTION OF VIRGIN MARY
The co-cathedral is the most significant Gothic sight in Opava. It was built by the Teutonic Order in the 14th century. The building with a prominent steep roof, south tower, and an unfinished north tower with crenellation is an example of the so called Silesian Gothic (a brick building with stone details). After a fire in 1758 the vault as well as interior of the church were baroquized. The sculptures in the church were made by Jan Schubert, the paintings were authored by the painters Raab, Leichner, and Günter. Worthy attention for its quality is the marble tombstone of Karl Liechtenstein made by Jiří Lehner in 1767.
4. DEPARTMENT STORE BREDA
The department store was built for the Breda-Weinstein company in the years 1927–1928. It was designed by the architect Leopold Bauer from Vienna. The five-storey corner building with a two-storey basement and a profiled facade was furnished with the latest technical equipment. In his design of the building Bauer found inspiration in the American architecture, especially the work of Henry Sullivan.
5. SAVINGS BANK
The architectonically interesting building designed in the style of the German Neo-Renaissance was built by Karel Kern in the years 1900–1902. The facade is adorned with allegoric figures representing agriculture, crafts, and business made by the sculptor Franz Baumgartner from Vienna. In 2004 the building underwent an extensive reconstruction.
6. RECTOR’S OFFICE OF THE SILESIAN UNIVERSITY
Built in the Empire style in 1914 according to the design by Alfred von Stutterheim, for almost 90 years the building served as a military headquarters, casino, and army club. The building was reconstructed in the years 2001–2003. Today it is the seat of the rector of the Silesian University in Opava.
7. ST. ELIZABETH’S CHAPEL
This originally Gothic chapel-turned-church was built by the the Teutonic Order. The baroquized church with a preserved painting of St. Elizabeth of Hungary by F. I. Leicher was used as a funeral chapel. Today it belongs to the Orthodox Church.
8. THE BUILDING OF MATICE OPAVSKÁ
The building was bought in 1880 as the seat of Matice opavská, the predecessor of today’s Matice slezská. The purchase was funded from private foundations and the members’ collections. The mission of the association is to enlighten, educate, and organize exhibitions and cultural events.
9. THE FRANCISCAN CHURCH OF ST. BARBARA AND THE FRANCISCAN MONASTERY
The Franciscan Monastery with St. Barbara’s Church was founded by Count Š. Jindřich of Vrbno in 1665. After the monastery had been dissolved, the buildings were used as storehouses and then until 1805 as a hospital. Today the complex is occupied by the Silesian Museum.
10. MUNICIPAL HOUSE
Originally a branch of the Austro-Hungarian Bank, which purchased the building in 1911, the Municipal House dominates Ostrožná Street. Designed by the architect Rudolf Eisler, the building was constructed in the Neo-Baroque style influenced by Neo-Classicism. The richly profiled facade is adorned with decorative features such as the sculpture of Mercury and Ceres on the second-floor balcony, massive pillars in the front facade, or the carved wooden door. The interior was likewise lavishly furnished. In 2009 the building underwent a complete reconstruction, which turned the bank into an open community centre whilst keeping its historical value.
11. MINORITE MONASTERY WITH CHURCH OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
The parish Church of the Holy Spirit was built before 1269, the monastery was then built around 1300. The originally Gothic, presumably two-nave church was in the 17th century rebuilt into a single-nave church with a number of side chapels. During his visit in Opava Ludwig van Beethoven played the organ in the church. The adjacent Minorite Monastery boasts a Gothic capitular hall and winter refectory with fresco decorations dating back to the 18th century. The monastery housed a field hospital, provincial court, provincial financial head office, revenue office, education office, and others. The principality assemblies as well as court meetings were held in the monastery from the 16th century. The monastery also served as a storage space for the land registry.
12. SOBEK’S PALACE
The Baroque palace was built in 1733 by Karel Josef Rogojský of Rohožník in the place of three houses. The palace was reconstructed in 1758 after it had burned down. The front facade features a pillar portal with sculptural work. Above the portal there is a balcony with a Rococo trellis. On the ground floor of the palace Baroque vaults have been preserved. At the end of the 19th century the palace was owned by Count Sternberg. Today the building is owned by a private company.
13. BLÜCHER’A PALACE
The Baroque palace was built in 1737 on the site of former noblemen houses. In 1800 Count Larisch-Mönnich bought the house. His daughter married G. Blücher. In the years 1932–1938 the building housed the Czechoslovak Agricultural Museum. Today the palace is a depository of the Silesian Museum.
14. PETR BEZRUČ LIBRARY
The building of the library as well as its interiors were designed by Leopold Bauer and realized in the years 1908–1910. Sixteen sandstone reliefs and sculptures by the main entrance were made by the sculptor Josef Obeth. Today there is a library in the building and it seats the Chamber of Commerce, for which it was built more than a hundred years ago. Organ concerts are held in the main hall.
15. CHURCH OF ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST
The small late Gothic church was built by the Johannites in the years 1431–1451. Following a large fire it was rebuilt in the Baroque style in the years 1689–1704. The turret was rebuilt several times.
16. THE SILESIAN MUSEUM
Opava prides itself on having the oldest museum in the Czech Republic. It was founded on 1 May 1814 as the Grammar School Museum. The exhibition building in the Neo-Renaissance style with a dome was built by the construction company Julius Lundwall according to the project designed by the architects Johann Scheringer and Franz Kachler in the years 1893–1895. During the liberation at the end of World War II the museum burnt down and had to undergo reconstruction. The dome with the sculpture of Genius was reconstructed in 1986. Today the permanent exhibition Expozice Slezsko features a wide array of items and topics related to the natural and cultural wealth of Silesia.
17. MÜLLER’S HOUSE
Built in 1726, the castle caretaker’s house was originally a part of the premises of the former Liechtenstein castle. The smallish one-storey building has a hipped roof with dormer windows adorned with architraves. Today the house is owned by the Silesian Museum.
18. ST. ADALBERT’S CHURCH 16
The imposing Baroque church in the style of Il Gesú in Rome was built according to Jacob Brasch’s project in the years 1676–1681 in the place of a small Gothic church. The triumphalist facade of the basillic church with Jesuit saints symbolized the strenghtening of Catholicism in town. The church was richly decorated with frescos painted by František Eckstein. Most of the frescos were destroyed in 1945.
Outside the church in Dolní Square there is a Marian (plague) column, which an important Baroque memorial. It was commissioned by the Count of Vrbno, Jiří Štěpán in 1675.
19. U BÍLÉHO KONÍČKA (THE WHITE HORSE) HOUSE
The townhouse from the end of the 16th century has a typical wide vaulted maashaus. Among others, Jan Zacpal, the editor of the newspaper Opavský deník, used to live there. Today the vaulted ceiling arches over a trendy tavern.
20. DOMINICAN MONASTERY AND ST. WENCESLAUS’ CHURCH
Built in the Gothic style, the church as well as the monastery were founded around 1291 by Duke of Opava, Nicholas I, a son of Ottokar II. The construction was finished under the reign of Nicholas II. The church was consecrated in 1336 by the Bishop of Olomouc Jan VII Volek and it was dedicated to the Přemyslid family saint, Wenceslaus. With its 19 altars and two chapels the church was one of the biggest and most opulent churches in town. Surviving to this day is a Gothic chapel consecrated to St. Dominic with remnants of original frescos. The church as well as the monastery burnt down several times and had to undergo reconstructions. In the years 1732–1735 the three-nave basilica with a one-nave closed choir loft was baroquized. The ceiling was painted with frescos inspired by the life of St. Wenceslaus by J. I. Deépe, K. F. Samback, and M. Schwagel. During the reign of Joseph II the church was used as an army storehouse, and the monastery housed a school. The monastery underwent reconstruction in the 1960s when an art school, House of Arts, and wine bar were set up there. Today the complex serves as a modern gallery and concert hall. The sculpture outside the gallery is called Utíkající dívka (Running Girl); it was made in 1975 by the sculptor Kurt Gebauer.
21. U MOUŘENÍNA (THE BLACKAMOOR’S) HOUSE
U mouřenína House is one of the houses that survived bombing in spring 1945. It is situated in Mezi trhy Street, which connects Horní and Dolní Squares. The heart of the house is early Baroque, the facade dates to 1730; it is decorated with stucco and medallions with eagles and portraits of imperators. The attic is adorned with busts of two blackamoors and ancient Greek divinities, Palas Athena and Ares. There used to be a pharmacy in the house.
22. BOŽÍ KOUTEK (GOD’S CORNER)
The house no. 53 called Boží koutek was formed by joining two older houses, a late Gothic one in the north and a Renaissance one in the south. On the ground and first floors great halls (maashauses) have been preserved including beam ceilings with paintings from the 17th century. Today there is a shop in the house.