Located at the confluence of the Opava and Opavice rivers, Krnov is considered one of the oldest towns in Bohemian Silesia. Largely neglected by international tourists so far, the town offers a wealth of sights that are worth at least a day trip.
History of Krnov
Already in the 13th century, Germans were settled here by the Bohemian King Wenceslas I and shortly thereafter obtained the town charter. In 1273, the Minorite Order chose Krnov as the seat of a monastery, which in the coming centuries was one of the most important in the region. In 1529, the town also became the seat of the Duchy of Jägerndorf, which lasted until the 19th century and was ruled first by the Hohenzollerns and later by the Liechtensteins.
Jägerndorf as a bone of contention between Prussia and Austria
Frederick the Great of Prussia invoked the rule over the Duchy of Jägerndorf when he started the First Silesian War. Ironically, however, Prussia was not granted Jägerndorf in the subsequent preliminary peace of Breslau. Instead, it became a border town. In the 19th century, thanks to the construction of the Moravian-Silesian Central Railway and numerous Jewish textile manufacturers, Krnov developed into the textile center of Silesia and was also called the “Silesian Manchester.” Many magnificent factory buildings and villas bear witness to this to this day.
Czechoslovak years, German occupation and communism
Against the will of the majority German inhabitants, Jägerndorf became part of the newly founded Czechoslovakia in 1918 and as Krnov became the administrative center of the region. As a result of the Munich Agreement, German troops occupied the town in October 1938. Jews were persecuted and mostly deported to concentration camps and murdered. When the Red Army occupied the town on May 6, 1945, Krnov was reincorporated into Czechoslovakia. The German inhabitants of the town were taken to internment camps and expelled to Germany in the coming months. Moravians, Sinti and Roma moved to the town instead, and in the following years Greeks who had fled the civil war in their country.
Krnov has a very compact but worth seeing old town. Even though the city was very badly affected during the Second World War and some streets were completely destroyed, it still offers some very beautiful buildings.
Town hall and savings bank
The architect of the Austrian National Bank in Vienna, Leopold Bauer, a native of Jägerndorf, was supposed to be the builder of the town’s new town hall. But his design was rejected by the councilors. Instead, they opted for the proposal of the Viennese architect Moritz Hinträger, which was built between 1901 and 1903. The neo-Renaissance style building was modeled after the Währing Town Hall in Vienna’s 18th district. The town hall survived the bombings of the city during World War II as one of the few buildings on the market square. Visitors can climb the 52-meter tower during the summer months. No less impressive is the adjacent savings bank building from the Art Nouveau style. Built between 1906 and 1907 by master builder Franz Blasch from Krnov, it also housed a café.
City Hall: Hlavní nám. 96/1, guided tours of City Hall from May 15 to September 15 every Wednesday 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., Saturday 2 p.m. and Sunday 9 a.m., cost 20Kč.
City parish church of St. Martin
First mentioned around 1281, the town parish church of St. Martin is the most visible church in Krnov. Since the Middle Ages, the north tower has been guarded by a tower keeper. The organ of the church was built by the Rieger organ factory founded in Jägerndorf and served as a show organ for the factory. Since 2014, the tower has also been open to visitors and can be climbed.
St. Mary’s: Nám. Osvobození, guided tours on weekends from 1 to 6 pm or as a group by request to the tourist information.
Church of the Holy Spirit
Founded in the 13th century together with a hospital, the church was later badly neglected. Even to the extent that the Moravian Margrave Josta obliged the citizens of Krnov to restore the church. It owes some of the oldest wall paintings in the region to this fact. After frequent changes of owners, the 27 murals were painted over and forgotten in the 16th century. It was only in the 20th century that they were rediscovered and today they are among the highlights of the city.
Holy Spirit Church with hospital: Sv. Ducha 30, information on guided tours and visit in the city information.
The castle of the rulers of Jägerndorf had its heyday between the 16th and 17th centuries. After that, it increasingly fell into oblivion. Where once splendid festivities were held, which are said to have been celebrated as a booze binge for a whole week, it has become quite quiet today. A restaurant in the courtyard invites visitors to drink beer. Otherwise, there is not much to see here anymore.
Art Nouveau and modern architecture in Krnov
With the emerging textile industry and the increasing prosperity of the citizens of Krnov, more and more representative buildings were built, which reflected this wealth. Especially in the first half of the 20th century, many buildings were built in Krnov, which belong to the most beautiful modernist buildings in the Moravian-Silesian region.
The textile manufacturer Theodor Flemmich wanted to have a villa built for himself and his family near the factory. He commissioned the Viennese artist Otto Prutscher for this purpose, who designed the building according to Flemmich’s wishes. The interior was lost, but the architecture still impresses.
Villa Flemmich: Hlubčická ulice 20, open Tuesday to Sunday 8 am to 6 pm, admission 30Kč.
Below the castle hill lies the Střelecký dům, which was one of Leopold Bauer’s first significant designs. He planned it as an event center for the Schützenverein (shooting club) in 1904 and changed the idea again in 1907. The result is impressive and still attracts people to concerts in the Art Nouveau hall of the building today.
Střelecký dům: Dobrovského 16. Open for events. Information about events in the city information.
Besides these buildings, there are other buildings worth seeing. Particularly photogenic are the Villa Johann Chalpuček (Textilní ul. 3), Villa Karl Larisch (Říční okruh 6/12a), Villa Schnürch (Revoluční 893/46), Exhibition Hall Silesia (Mikulášská ulice 1015/12), Theater (Mikulášská 911/21) and Polyclinic (Náměstí Hrdinů 6) and the outside Art Nouveau, inside ČSSR-style Cinema Mír 70 (nám. Míru 1).
Jews settled in the region as early as the 10th century and are documented in Krnov since the 13th century. However, in the 15th century the envy of Christian merchants led to their banishment from the whole county. It was not until the middle of the 19th century that the number of Jews in Krnov grew stronger again. In the 1860s Jews were emancipated in Austria-Hungary. A first public Jewish community in Krnov was established in the 1870s. They played a decisive role in Krnov and the region until the occupation of Czechoslovakia by Nazi Germany. Jews further developed many industries and economic sectors in the town and region.
The Krnov synagogue is unique for the region and is one of the best preserved Jewish temples in the Czech Republic. It was built in 1871 according to the plans of Ernst Latzel, a local architect. Even though the synagogue was not an Orthodox temple, men and women could sit separately here as well. Nevertheless, the Krnov synagogue has an organ, which is again typical of Reform Judaism. It was only one of three synagogues in Moravian Silesia to survive the Reich Pogrom Night. Even the interior with the wooden coffered ceiling has been preserved to this day.
Today the synagogue belongs to the Jewish community of Prague and is even occasionally used for prayers. Besides, the temple is also a venue for concerts and other events. An association of friends of the synagogue takes care of the maintenance of the building and receives visitors.
Krnov Synagogue: Soukenická 83/28, www.krnovska-synagoga.cz, open 10 a.m. to noon and 1 to 3 p.m., closed October to April, admission 60Kč. Ring the bell if the door is locked.
Jewish cemetery Krnov
The Jewish cemetery below the castle hill shows the interesting mixture of the Jewish community. The Jewish cemetery of Krnov, established in 1874, was devastated in 1939 after the occupation of the Sudetenland by Nazi Germany. Nevertheless, gravestones with German, Czech and Hebrew inscriptions can still be found here today.
Jewish cemetery Krnov: U Lazebníka 909/2
Castle Hill (Cvilín) in Krnov
No matter from where you enter Krnov, the 441-meter-high Front Castle Hill will probably be the first landmark of the town you see. For the citizens of Krnov, the Castle Hill has always been the favorite destination for walks. Several hiking trails cross the area of the Castle Hill, which are worth a walk also to the castle that gave the name to the hill. However, many believers also come here to experience spiritual purification.
Sanctuary of the Sorrowful Virgin Mary
Created to recatholicize the area after the Thirty Years’ War, the pilgrimage church of the Sorrowful Virgin Mary attracts mainly believers to the castle hill. There is an image of the Virgin painted and donated by the Krnov painter Heinrich Täuber in 1683 in gratitude for the healing of his daughter. Since then, pilgrims came four times a year to ask for healing of diseases. Because the small wooden chapel was bursting at the seams at the beginning of the 18th century, the present pilgrimage church was built here from 1722 to 1728. In order to make the arduous journey from the town up the Burgberg to the pilgrimage church easier, the people of Krnov built a stone staircase with 222 steps in the 19th century. At the end of the Second World War, the church was badly destroyed, but thanks to many pictorial testimonies, it was later rebuilt in great detail.
Liechtenstein Warden’s Office
At the beginning of the 20th century, the Moravian-Silesian Sudeten Mountain Association endeavored to build a control room in Krnov. The project was supported by the Prince of Liechtenstein, which is where the name comes from. From the subsequently built Liechtenstein Warden’s Office, which was completed in 1903, there is a divine view over the whole region. Once the tower was 35 meters high, today it is still 29 meters high. Between the battlements on the platform, you can even see as far as the TV tower on the Praděd in good weather.
Liechtenstein Warden’s Office: open from June to September from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., from October to April on weekends and only in good weather. Outside these hours, ascents can be organized through the Krnov tourist information office.
About 1.5 kilometers from the pilgrimage church lies the old Cvilín Castle, which has stood here on the Rear Castle Hill at least since 1253. Once the exalted residence of the princes of Jägerndorf, the fortress lost its importance under the rule of the Prussian Hohenzollerns. Today, only some of the outer walls of the castle remain. But at least you can wander through the ruins and enjoy a view of the surroundings from the former tower.
Krnov – Kofola’s haven
In the second half of the 19th century, a pharmacist named Gustav Hell in nearby Opava was already developing an extract from coffee beans. This was the basis for a syrup developed by a pharmaceutical company in Opava when it was looking for a use for the surplus caffeine produced during coffee roasting. It came in handy then that in the absence of Western cola, the communist government of the ČSSR called on state-owned enterprises to develop their own beverages. This is how Kofola was finally born in 1960. Kofola became so immensely popular that today it rivals Coca Cola in the Czech Republic and Slovakia and is drunk more often than the American original. Today, the syrup is processed into the drink and bottled in Krnov at Kofola a.S. Kofola takes quite a bit of getting used to and at first tastes something like Jägermeister without the alcohol. You get used to it and it soon becomes addictive.
Kofola Music Club
The Lemonade Factory does not offer tours, but it runs a club on the outskirts of Krnov where concerts are held all the time. Here mainly Czech bands play, which is why a visit to the club can be worthwhile to get to know the local and national music culture better. Don’t worry, there is beer, of course.
Kofola Music Club: 1403 Bruntálská Street, http://www.kofolamusicclub.cz
What to do in Krnov?
Krnov city tour
At the tourist information (address below) you can also book a guided tour in English. Here you will learn interesting stories about the old hunting village. If you prefer to look around on your own, but still want to know a little more, there is also an audio guide that you can borrow at the tourist information.
Nachmelena Opice brewery tour
You can join a brewery tour in the in Krnov. The tour will be in English. Here you will be explained how to brew the local craft beer and you can also taste the beer directly there.
Nachmelena Opice Brewery: Textilní 1154/1 under the castle hill, www.nachmelenaopice.cz/
Events in Krnov
KRRR Film Festival for 70mm Films
A special highlight in Krnov is the KRRR film festival. It is dedicated to 70mm films, which are popular among film fans for their sharpness of detail and surround sound, which used to be rare. The Mír 70 cinema is one of the few cinemas in Czech Republic that still has the technology to show these films. Therefore, the festival is a special highlight.
KRRR Festival: every year around the beginning of April in Krnov in the cinema Mír 70 (nám. Míru 1), https://www.krrr.cz/
Tourist information Krnov is located a few meters from the town hall at Hobzíkova 13. It provides information about the sights in the city and its surroundings and arranges rooms all year round. It is open from 9 am to 5 pm, except on Sunday.
Parking is possible in many places in the city. Directly on the market square it costs a fee. If you want to park relaxed without a fee, you can park your car for example at Petrovická street.
Hotel Cvilín is located directly on the castle hill next to the pilgrimage church. From the restaurant of the building you have a great view over the city. The rooms are comfortably furnished. The hotel offers some luxury. But it is located on the castle hill and the 222 steps are certainly tiring on foot after 2 or 3 beers in the evening.
Closer to the center and especially not on the mountain is Villa Café. In this villa from the beginning of the 20th century you can stay comfortably and in style. All rooms are modernly furnished. In many of them there are great wooden parquet floors. The prices are cheaper than in the Hotel Cvilín. The breakfast is delicious.
It is always cheap and good to stay in guesthouses in Czech Republic. In Krnov, Penzion Eva Krnov is especially recommended. The hosts are very friendly and help with everything that is needed.
Food & Drink
Bistro Včera, dnes a zítra has not only a stylish ambience but also delicious dishes on the menu. The dishes are a welcome change, especially if you have already eaten some Czech dishes in the meantime. Breakfast is also recommended. There are usually only two dishes available. However, the restaurant is open only during the week from 7 am to 3 pm, but on Fridays until 10 pm.
Greeks have lived in Krnov since the 1950s, when they fled the civil war. Therefore, it is appropriate to dine on Greek food in Krnov. Hermes is located in a listed house and there is probably no nicer place to have a delicious lunch or dinner.
The “small café” offers daily changing international dishes and otherwise of course coffee in a friendly atmosphere.
Pekárna Zdravá výživa
In the bakery “Healthy Food” on the corner of Radniční / Zámecké nám., you can find not only fresh baked goods but also many regionally produced products from the whole region. If you have some space in your luggage or even more in your car, you should stock up on delicious Czech food here.