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|ČESKÁ REPUBLIKA||CZECH REPUBLIC|
|Jihomoravský kraj||South Moravia (Brno) region|
Brno is situated at an elevation of 215 m at the confluence of the Svitava and Svratka rivers. With a population of about 367,400 (2005) is is the second-largest city of the Czech Republic. Brno is the capital of the South Moravia region.
The origins of Brno go back to a castle that was founded around 1021. The earliest document mentioning the settlement dates from 1091. The town itself was founded in 1243 by Wenceslaus I of Bohemia. In 1641 it superseded Olomouc as capital of Moravia. During the Thirty Years' War (16181648), Brno was besieged without success by Swedish troops. In 1805 the nearby Slavkov u Brna (Austerlitz) was the site of the famous victory of Napoleon over the Austrian and Russian armies. The battle is also known as the 'Battle of Three Emperors', although only Czar Alexander I and Napoleon participated personally, Franz I of Austria (Franz II as emperor of the Holy Roman Empire) was not present in person. Since the 13th century, the population of Brno (German: Brünn) was largely German-speaking. After World War I a number of neighboring communtiies were incorporated into the municipalty of Brno so that Czeck speakers became the majority. After World War II, on 31 May and 1 June 1945, almost all the German inhabitants (about 25% of the population of Brno at that time) were forced to leave the town and were marched off to the Austrian border, about 60 km away. Many of them died of prostration, starvation or typhoid fever.
Villa Tugendhat, designed by Mies van der Rohe and built in the late 1920s close to the centre of the city, is known as a monument of modern architecture, and was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2002 (see also list of other UNESCO heritage sites).
The fortress on the Špilberk (German: Spielberg) hill was founded in the second half
of the 13th century. It became a seat of the kings of Bohemia and margraves of Moravia. In the mid 17th century it was
enlarged into a mighty fortress. Together with the fortifications of the city of Brno it was the strongest fortress of
Moravia. Under Emperor Joseph II, in 1783 and 1785, parts of the castle were converted into a prison intended for the incarceration of those who
were considered the most dangerous enemies of the country. Large parts of the fortress were demolished by French troops in 1809
so that it lost its military significance. From 1820 until 1855 it was only used as a
prison. After that, it was used as barracks and military prison for another hundred years. Extensive renovation works
in 19871992 aimed at restoring its state of the late 18th century.
One of the most prominent prisoners of the fortress was Franz Freiherr (Baron) von der Trenck, leader of an irregular
corps of Pandurs in Austrian service. After the peace between Austria and Bavaria in 1745, he was court-martialed
for insubordination and other offences. Von der Trenck died in the fortress in 1749.
The Besední dům ('Society House') [left] was built in 18711873. The building in Renaissance Revival style is the most important construction in Brno of the architect Theophil Hansen from Vienna. Since 1956 it is home to the Brno State Philharmonic Orchestra.
The "Deutsches Haus" ('German House') [right]
was built in 18891891. The brick building in German Renaissance Revival style razed to the ground by the
Czech authorities in 1945. The site today is occupied by the public park, Moravskó náměstí ('Moravian Square').
Depicted in front of the building is the
The church of St. James [left, no.2032: background left; the spire also visible in the background of the picture on no.028, right] was built in the 14th and 15th century. The roof of the church tower was added in 1592.
Glass no.2032 [left] shows a view of the square in front of the German House with the monument for Emperor Joseph II.
Glass no.028 [right] shows a view of the square, Náměstí svobody ('Freedom Square'), which,
during the times of the Austrian monarchy, was named "Großer Platz" ('Grand Square').