Brno at a glance Pronunciation: Bru-no Birthplace of : Milan Kundera Population: approx. 381,000 (as of 2020) To note: Brno is home to the oldest theater building in central Europe
You know that feeling you get, when you arrive some place new, and immediately feel as though you have finally reached home? Like you have been there before? Like you belong there? That’s how I felt the minute we arrived in Brno. I can’t really pinpoint what about it made me feel this way. Whatever it was, I am really glad that we decided to make a stop here.
Brno is home to one UNESCO World Heritage Site, namely the Villa Tugendhat. Besides that, this vibrant city has been the birthplace of not only several notable people, but also ground-breaking ideas. In 1856, an Augustinian monk by the name Gregor Mendel (not to be confused with Mendeleev or Mengele) planted some peas in the experimental garden of the St. Thomas’ Abbey. This seemingly innocent act, would lead to Brno becoming the birthplace of modern genetics and Gregor Mendel its father.
Now for a little background on the monument we came to Brno for. Completed in 1930 and inscribed into the UNESCO world heritage list in 2001, the villa of Greta and Fritz Tugendhat was designed by the architects Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Lilly Reich. They designed the furniture inside the villa as well, producing the iconic Brno and Tugendhat armchairs. Not only is the Villa Tugendhat a testament to modern architecture, it also holds an important historical place for the people of the Czech Republic and Slovakia. In 1992, Václav Klaus and Vladimír Mečiar, met here to bring into effect the division of Czechoslovakia into two separate nations peacefully.
I would recommend that you pre-book a tour at least 4-6 months in advance. We tried to book a tour 2 months in advance and they were already sold out! So unfortunately, we were only able to enjoy the garden of the villa and the views of Brno and the villa from the outside. Which was still pretty amazing! However, we were able to enjoy a virtual tour of the inside later-on, which I would highly recommend too (link can be found here)! What personally impressed me most was the heating and ventilation system built into the house.
After taking in the views of the city and enjoying the garden of the Villa Tugendhat, we made our way back to the city-center, strolling around taking in all the beauty and curiosities that make Brno so unique. From the crocodile on the ceiling of the old town hall to the four fools trying to hold up an entire building.
After strolling through the city under the late spring sun, we decided to stop for a nice lunch before heading back to our hotel to cool off. We had planned to visit the ballet in the evening and didn’t want to be too tired to enjoy Swan Lake. The Mahen theater was a relatively short walk from our hotel, so we decided to enjoy the balmy evening with a leisurely walk there. Built in 1882, it was the first public building to be electrified in Europe. The interior of the theater, as well as the performance, were breathtaking!
After Swan Lake, it was time to head back to our hotel. Brno at night is just as vibrant and full-of-life as during the day. We stopped at a pub for some beers, before calling it a night on what be our last in the Czech Republic. I only hope that someday soon, I will be able to visit Brno again.