Brno - The Charms of modern architecture

Discover one of the leading centres of functionalism in Central Europe – a real trailblazer of modern architecture in its time.  Find out more about the story of the Tugendhat family and the troubled fate of the world-famous villa, which aptly reflects the history of 20th century Europe.
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Title
The Tugendhat Villa, named after its first owners, is the only piece of modern architecture in the Czech Republic that is listed as a UNESCO monument. This building made the Moravian metropolis famous among architects as well as the broader public.
 


You will be entranced by the atmosphere of the 1920s and 1930s, when Czechoslovakia was the centre of Central European democracy, and Brno, the second largest city of the young republic, was at the cutting edge of the modernist movement. Just imagine. Brightness and freshness permeate the entire society of the time and the seemingly simple appearance of functionalist buildings is the result of a clear vision and an elaborate concept. Ornament is considered a crime – new public and commercial building have a very subtle way of showing success. Brno Exhibition Centre becomes a meeting place for industry representatives from all over the world. The villas of the most influential families of Brno, built according to designs by famous architects as well as local creative minds, change the way of looking at housing architecture.  Several times a week, cafés with live swing music are filled with guests dancing in the open space. The resting dancers are attended to by a waiter with a bow tie, who unobtrusively floats through the room. For many, this beautiful era of fun and prosperity unfortunately ended by a quick disillusionment in the late 1930s.
 
After more than half a century, Brno is returning to the legacy of this golden era. It is, however, not only nostalgia that’s driving it – old buildings are swarming with new energy and an entirely new life. The cafés are once again abuzz with the guests’ excited conversations and the waiter with the bow tie is ready for your order.

Interesting thing

Have you ever heard of the Moravian Manchester? It was the development of the textile industry in Brno and the rise of the rich entrepreneurs in this industry that contributed to Brno’s status as the cradle of functionalism. By the way, do you know how the family Löw-Beer, in which Greta Tugendhat had her roots, or the Stiassni family got rich? There is a unique guide to the monuments of Brno’s functionalism – the Brno Architecture Manual (http://www.bam.brno.cz/en/). Apart from the city’s architectural development, it also gives you an outline of its social and cultural background. 

Day 1

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6
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sights
10
Your journey begins at the once glorious Avion Hotel built on one of the narrowest plots you can imagine. Note the corner house across from the hotel – the former apartment house Convalaria is currently home to a newspaper editorial. Walk past the former department store Brouk a Babka (today Baťa) to the Svobody Square. You will be facing the building of the former Bank of Moravia. Take in the sharp contrast of its simple facade with the ornate pseudo-historical buildings around. Pass Brno’s astronomical clock and walk through the Omega department store to the Alfa Palace. From there you can head to the lively Jakubské Square. The spacious Savoy Café with a grandiose staircase still conjures up memories of the times when it was one of the top European cafés. Are you already coming to terms with the principles of functionalism? It is time, then, to proceed to its most iconic representative in Brno – the Tugendhat Villa. After that you can go to the Era Café. The interior of this architectural gem will surely please you with its playful colours but also with great coffee and a selection of desserts. For those who still haven’t had enough of Brno’s functionalism, we recommend an afternoon stroll through another important villa district – the Masaryk District. Don’t miss out on the remarkable houses and villas in the streets Barvičova or Klácelova and the functionalist Church of St. Augustine. Passing the Stiassni Villa, you can then walk down to the Brno Exhibition Centre – worth noting are its Main Hall A and the lookout tower (which is open to the public when booked in advance).

Common Tips

How to get to the Tugendhat Villa
 
If you prefer a quick transfer, use public transportation or take a taxi. However, if you have enough energy, we recommend you to walk, as you will get to see many other extraordinary buildings on the way. Walk through the Moravské Square and the Mášova street, hidden to most pedestrians, all the way to the “Tyršův sad” Park. The Hussite Choir (“Husův sbor”) building that you will be passing was the first sacred functionalist building in the former Czechoslovakia. Its basement currently harbours a renowned classy restaurant. Walk past the Masaryk Student Home to the city’s largest park Lužánky and through the magical Schodová street to the famous Tugendhat Villa. A walk around the garden will allow you to take a peek into the famous “glass room” from outside and also to enjoy the unique panorama of the city. You don’t have to place a reservation in order to see the garden. If you want to see the interiors of the villa too, we recommend you to make an online booking several months in advance.

Transportation

Brno is connected with Prague by the D1 motorway as well as by railway. Apart from car, you can therefore use public transportation – several buses and trains operated by various companies leave for Brno every hour. There are also regular flights to Brno from certain European cities (London, Moscow, Eindhoven). 

Day 1

km
6
hrs
9
sights
10

Avion Hotel

Eight metres of width. This is how much space architect Bohuslav Fuchs had when restaurant owner Miroslav Kostelecký contacted him in 1926 and asked him to design a hotel on the plot of a former Classicist tavern.

Address

Česká 150/20, 602 00 Brno
GPS: 49.1967472, 16.6061283

Apartment house Convalaria in Brno

Until the 1970s, many intellectuals, students and well-to-do ladies used to meet and discuss current matters in a café situated in the first floor of this apartment house from 1937, designed by architect Oskar Poříska. And the perfumes?
 

Address

Česká 21, 602 01 Brno
GPS: 49.196454, 16.605911

Department store Brouk a Babka in Brno

The department store from 1934 is one of the functionalist jewels built by the former classmates from a business school – Jaroslav Brouk and Josef Babka. The house went down in history of architecture also thanks to its exceptionally short development time – from the clearance of the former house to a completely furnished new house it took as little as 4 and a half months.

Address

Česká 2-4, 602 00 Brno
GPS: 49.195464, 16.607112

Bank of Moravia in Brno

One of the landmarks of Brno’s central Svobody Square is the Bank of Moravia, which was finished in 1930. What is so interesting about it are the nearly identical suspended glass frontages oriented towards the streets. They are connected by a passage, which contains shops and restaurants.

Address

Náměstí Svobody 21, 602 00 Brno
GPS: 49.195059, 16.607379

Alfa Palace in Brno

A 14-floor house – this was something entirely unheard of in the Brno of the 1920s, yet this is what the original plan by architect František Hrdina contained. Regulatory measures and complex static provisions finally allowed only for an eight-floor complex.
 

Address

Poštovská 8, 602 00 Brno
GPS: 49.194632, 16.610211

Savoy Café

In 1927 a ten-day study trip to France was organized for representatives of restaurant and coffeehouse owners from Moravia and Silesia, focusing on modern café, restaurant and hotel-related architecture. It inspired architect Jindřich Kumpošt in his technical solution of two famous cafés.

Address

Jakubské nám. 1, 602 00 Brno
GPS: 49.196362, 16.608682

Villa Tugendhat

Villa Tugendhat has borne witness to the birth of modern housing and also to the tragic fate of the people who lived there. This work by the famous German architect Mies van der Rohe is to this very day regarded as one of the four most important villas in the world. Thanks to its values, this gem of modern architecture has also been included in the UNESCO world heritage list.

Address

Černopolní 45
613 00 Brno
GPS: 49.207224, 16.616002

Opening Hours

Entry fees

Standard fee: 300 Kč

Children fee: 180 Kč

Family fee: 690 Kč

Senior fee: 180 Kč

Student fee: 180 Kč

Cafe Era

Set out on a walk around the modern architecture of the Moravian capital and experience the First-Republic atmosphere of Brno. Walk from the most famous Villa Tugendhat past Villa Stiassni all the way to the Brno Exhibition Grounds.

Address

Zemědělská 30, 613 00 Brno
GPS: 49.20895541759139, 16.61529264867397

Masaryk District and Stiassni Villa in Brno

The attractive residential district full of architectural gems that today carries the name of the first Czechoslovak president started to emerge in the late 19th century. The idea of individual housing connected with natural parks and gardens, which is, however, economically available to the middle classes, came to Brno from England.

Address

Hroznová 14, 603 00 Brno
GPS: 49.196915, 16.573074

Opening Hours

Entry fees

Standard fee: 190 Kč

Children fee: 100 Kč

Family fee: 470 Kč

Senior fee: 100 Kč

Student fee: 100 Kč

Brno Exhibition Centre

The Brno Exhibition Centre is one of the most elegant exhibition sites in Europe. Although it stretches across an area of 650 thousand square metres it by no means blemishes the beautiful natural environment of the Pisárky valley. The exhibition site was founded in 1928 following the designs produced by the most reputable Czech and Moravian functionalist architects.

Address

Výstaviště 405/1, 647 00 Brno
GPS: 49.1877267, 16.5822647

Music Club Fléda

Head out to the famous Fléda club for an indie, techno, hip hop or classical music concert in Brno. Musical productions are complemented by film projections, plays and many other activities. The club got its name from the popular Brüner Fledermause cabaret, which was established here in 1911, i.e. at a time when Brno was more of a German than a Czech city.

Address

Štefánikova 24, 602 00 Brno
GPS: 49.2097544568589, 16.603517751098593

Panská Lícha Restaurant

Do you want to experience something unusual? The stylish restaurant and family hotel Panská Lícha will prepare an unforgettable experience for you with its unusual connection with the adjacent riding centre. You can see the riding school and surrounding runs from the restaurant and from the terrace or actually ride a horse there.

Address

Panská Lícha 631/6 614 00 Brno
GPS: 49.2465277778, 16.6356277778

Prominent Restaurant

The elegant Prominent Restaurant prepares first-class Bohemian and Moravian dishes right in front of the guests’ eyes – a truly unusual sight which really is worth taking in. 

Address

Křížkovského 20, 603 00 Brno
GPS: 49.1842199530004, 16.580759966563

Orea Resort Santon

Relaxation in the pleasant surroundings of the hotel Santon as well as flavoursome dishes at the restaurant Panorama await you at the Brno reservoir. The restaurant offers a spacious summer terrace with views of the reservoir. In addition to regional dishes and Czech specialities we also have so-called wellness foods; why not try our grilled goat’s cheese or baked vegetable cakes?

Address

Orea Resort Santon ***
Přístavní 38
635 00 Brno
GPS: 49.2307916667, 16.5183111111

Royal Ricc

Hotel Royal Ricc whose Baroque building remembers the times of Austria-Hungary is located in the centre of the Moravian capital. A cosy hotel restaurant is located in these pleasant surroundings, the offer of which includes dishes from Czech, Italian and French cuisine. The restaurant has won several awards including the Czech Specials certificate.

Address

Royal Ricc ****
Starobrněnská 10
602 00 Brno
GPS: 49.1925776578934, 16.6072243452072