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Masaryk Square – Ostrava's historical centre
|• Mayor||Tomáš Macura (ANO)|
|• Statutory city||214.23 km2 (82.71 sq mi)|
|Elevation||260 m (850 ft)|
|• Statutory city||287,968|
|• Density||1,300/km2 (3,500/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC+1 (CET)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC+2 (CEST)|
Ostrava (Czech pronunciation: [ˈostrava], locally: [oˈstrava] (listen); Polish: Ostrawa, German: Ostrau) is a city in the north-east of the Czech Republic, and the capital of the Moravian-Silesian Region. It has about 288,000 inhabitants. It lies 15 km (9 mi) from the border with Poland, at the confluences of four rivers: Oder, Opava, Ostravice and Lučina. Ostrava is the third largest city in the Czech Republic in terms of both population and area, the second largest city in the region of Moravia, and the largest city in the historical land of Czech Silesia. It straddles the border of the two historic provinces of Moravia and Silesia. The wider conurbation – which also includes the towns of Bohumín, Havířov, Karviná, Orlová, Petřvald and Rychvald – is home to about 500,000 people, making it the largest urban area in the Czech Republic apart from the capital, Prague.
Ostrava grew in importance due to its position at the heart of a major coalfield, becoming an important industrial engine of the Austrian empire. During the 20th century it was known as the "steel heart" of Czechoslovakia thanks to its status as a coal-mining and metallurgical centre, but since the Velvet Revolution (the fall of communism in 1989) it has undergone radical and far-reaching changes to its economic base. Industries have been thoroughly restructured, and the last coal was mined in the city in 1994. However, remnants of the city's industrial past are visible in the Lower Vítkovice area, a former coal-mining, coke production and ironworks complex in the city centre which retains its historic industrial architecture. Lower Vítkovice has applied for inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Ostrava is home to various cultural facilities including theatres and galleries. Various cultural and sporting events take place in Ostrava throughout the year, including the Colours of Ostrava music festival, the Janáček May classical music festival, the Summer Shakespeare Festival and NATO Days. Ostrava is home to two public universities: the Technical University of Ostrava and the University of Ostrava. In 2014 Ostrava was a European City of Sport. The city co-hosted (with Prague) the Ice Hockey World Championships in 2004 and 2015.
The city's coat of arms features a blue shield with a rearing silver horse standing on a green lawn. The horse wears a golden saddle and a red coverlet. At the top right of the shield there is a golden rose with green leaves and a red core. The horse in the coat-of-arms wears no bridle. The oldest known depiction of this coat-of-arms is on a seal dating from 1426. The first coloured version dates from 1728. The horse is often interpreted as a symbol of Ostrava's position on a major trade route, or as a figure taken from the coat-of-arms of Ostrava's first vogt (reeve), while the golden rose probably comes from the family coat-of-arms of the bishop of Olomouc Stanislav Thurzo. This explanation is supported by most modern literature.
Another theory suggests that the Bishop granted Ostrava the right to use the horse in its coat-of-arms out of gratitude for the assistance that the town provided to the people of the Bishop's estate in Hukvaldy when the estate was being looted and pillaged. Apparently the help came so quickly that the pillagers did not have time to attach bridles to their horses before making their escape. There is also a legend which tells of a siege of Ostrava during which the besieged townspeople released unbridled horses to run in circles around the town. This is said to have confused the attacking armies so much that they fled.
In 2008, Ostrava's new marketing logo was unveiled. Designed by Studio Najbrt, the logo "OSTRAVA!!!" is used in public presentations of the city both in the Czech Republic and abroad. The three exclamation marks are meant to symbolise the dynamism, energy and self-confidence of Ostrava and its people. The light blue colour of the city's name is based on the heraldic tradition, while the exclamation marks are a contrasting darker blue.
The first written mention of Slezská Ostrava (Silesian Ostrava) dates from 1229, when it was described as a settlement. The first mention of Moravian Ostrava (Moravská Ostrava) in 1267 describes it as a township. Ostrava grew on the banks of the Ostrá River (now the Ostravice) from which it took its name. The river still divides the city into two main parts: Moravian Ostrava (Moravská Ostrava) and Silesian Ostrava (Slezská Ostrava). The settlement occupied a strategic position on the border between the two historic provinces of Moravia and Silesia and on the ancient trade route from the Baltic Sea to the Adriatic Sea known as the Amber Road. Its location helped the town to grow and flourish.
A turning point in Ostrava's history came in 1763 with the discovery of extensive deposits of high-quality bituminous coal on the Silesian bank of the Ostravice River. In 1828, the owner of the local estates, Rudolf Jan, the archbishop of Olomouc, established an ironworks, which was named after him as the Rudolfshütte. Later, the ironworks passed into the ownership of the Rothschild family and became known as the Vítkovice Ironworks. The company became the driving force behind Ostrava's industrial boom. By the second half of the 20th century, the city was nicknamed the country's "steel heart".
After the World War II, the town's German-speaking population was expelled. At a massacre at an internment camp, 231 German-speaking citizens were killed. The liberation of Ostrava by the Red Army led to the city entering its greatest period of expansion. Initially, the new housing projects were on a relatively-small scale focusing on the Poruba district and featuring architecture in the Socialist realism style. Later, however, the authorities built larger-scale developments of prefabricated apartment blocks in Poruba and created a series of satellite estates to the south of the city (Ostrava-Jih). The city centre was gradually depopulated, and its people were moved out to the suburbs, as part of a long-term plan to destroy the city centre entirely and to turn the land over to coal-mining.
The 1990s brought a rapid decline in the city's traditional industrial sectors: iron, steel, chemicals and coal-mining. The last coal was mined on 30 June 1994, which was accompanied by major investments to rectify ecological damage done by decades of heavy industry. The projects ultimately brought major improvements in the city's environment and quality of life. Ostrava became an important tourist centre that offered easy access to the nearby Hrubý Jeseník and Beskids Mountains.
As well as hundreds of hectares of recultivated former mining land, the city also has numerous natural landscape features of interest, many of which are protected nature reserves. They include the Polanský Forest and the Polanská Meadows, both of which form part of the Poodří (Oder Basin) protected nature reserve.
A rare geological feature found in the city is the granite erratic boulders. Originally from Scandinavia, they were left behind after the last Ice Age, when the ice sheets retreated. Another feature is the Ema slag heap, an artificial hill made of mining waste (slag) that offers panoramic views. The waste is still burning deep beneath the surface, which gives the slag-heap its own microclimate.
On 10 December 2019, a shooting at a hospital in Ostrava left eight people dead, including the perpetrator.
Ostrava is situated at the meeting point of four rivers: Oder, Opava, Ostravice and Lučina. Due to its location in a broad river basin known as the Moravian Gate, Ostrava is mostly low-lying, with a highest point of 280 m above sea level, and has a Central European climate with typical flora and fauna. It differs from most neighbouring regions by the high concentration of industry, dense population and the geographical conditions of the Ostrava basin.
Ostrava is 20.5 km across from north to south (Antošovice–Nová Bělá), and 20.1 km across from east to west (Bartovice–Krásné Pole). The total length of the city's road network is 828 km (514 mi).
|Climate data for Ostrava|
|Average high °C (°F)||0.4
|Average low °C (°F)||−5.6
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||26.7
|Average precipitation days||7||7||7||8||11||11||11||10||8||7||9||8||104|
|Source: World Meteorological Organisation (UN)|
The city has an oceanic (Köppen: Cfb) or humid continental (Dfb) climate, according with the isoterm 0 °C/-3 °C, the second most common in the Europe (the average temperature in month most cold is -1 °C). The climate features hot, humid summers and relatively mild winters, with an average annual temperature of 10.2 °C (January: -1.2 °C, July: 23.5 °C) and average annual precipitation of 580 mm.
The city, with a total area of 214 km2, is divided into 23 administrative parts. On 14 September 1990, Ostrava's City Authority decided to divide the city into 22 districts, effective 24 November that year. On 1 January 1994, the district of Plesná separated from the Poruba district and become a separate local authority. Some of the local authorities are further subdivided into smaller units.
The first mayor of Moravian Ostrava and the last person to hold the office before 1918, while the Czech lands were part of Austria-Hungary, was Hermann Zwierzina. One of the most influential mayors in the city's history was Jan Prokeš, who was one of the main driving forces behind Ostrava's rapid expansion and helped to modernize its infrastructure. His achievements are commemorated in the name of the square outside the New City Hall – Prokešovo Square.
The city's mayor during the Nazi occupation, Emil Beier, merged Moravian Ostrava and Silesian Ostrava to form a single administrative unit.
Postwar mayors of the city include Zdeněk Kupka, Evžen Tošenovský (who was elected mayor for three successive terms from 1993 to 2001 and went on to become the president of the Moravian-Silesian Region), and Petr Kajnar. The current mayor, elected on 6 November 2014, is Tomáš Macura.
Ostrava is the transport and logistics hub of the north-eastern part of the Czech Republic.
25 km (16 mi) south of the city centre is an international airport, Leoš Janáček Airport Ostrava, which links the city with several European destinations (IATA code: OSR; ICAO code: LKMT). It is the first airport in the Czech Republic to have its own rail link. It handles scheduled flights several times a week to London and Warsaw. In the summer season there are also numerous charter flights, mainly to destinations in the Merranean region.
The road infrastructure of the region is centred on the D1 motorway, which runs from Prague via Brno and Ostrava into Poland. Ostrava is 360 km (220 mi) from Prague by motorway, 170 km (110 mi) from Brno, 90 km (56 mi) from the Polish city of Katowice, and 310 km (190 mi) from Vienna. Other major roads which pass through Ostrava are the Class I roads 11, 56, 58, and 59, as well as the E75 and E462 trans-European routes.
The city has a dense public transport network consisting of trams, buses and trolleybuses. The first trams, introduced in 1894, were powered by steam engines. The network was rapidly expanded, and in 1901 it was electrified. New tram lines were built mainly to the south and east of the city centre, where they would not have to cross the narrow-gauge railways linking Ostrava with Karviná and Bohumín.
In 1934 the railway line in Vítkovice (operated by the Vítkovice Ironworks company) was also electrified. In the late 1940s and early 1950s the various companies providing tram services in Ostrava were merged to create the Ostrava City Public Transport Corporation (Czech: Dopravní podnik města Ostravy). During the communist era new tram lines were built to link the central parts of the city with the new satellite estates (Poruba) and factories (Nová Huť). After the Velvet Revolution in 1989 most tram-building projects were stopped, though a new section running along Místecká Road was opened in the late 1990s.
Trolleybuses were introduced in 1952, as in other Czech towns and cities after the World War II. Initially there was one trolleybus route which encircled the city centre. The network was gradually expanded in the 1950s and 60s, replacing the narrow-gauge railways. A route to the Fifejdy housing estate was built in the late 1970s. The last expansion of the trolleybus network came in the mid-1990s, when a route was built out to the suburb of Koblov. 17 tram lines currently operate in Ostrava. There are 52 bus lines and 14 trolleybus lines.
Ostrava is also a major railway hub, sited on Railway Corridors II and III and serving as an important centre for cargo and passenger transport between the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia. The city's largest railway stations are the main station (Ostrava hl.n.) and Ostrava-Svinov. These stations are important railway junctions. The main line linking Ostrava with Olomouc, Pardubice and Prague is served by three railway companies: České dráhy, RegioJet and LEO Express.
Ostrava's high concentration of heavy industry created various environmental problems in the city, particularly in relation to air quality. Measurements performed by the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute show that levels of atmospheric benzopyrene and dust particles are among the highest in the country.
Although Ostrava still has to contend with environmental issues, the situation has improved over time. In 2015 ArcelorMittal, then one of the biggest polluters in the region, implemented 13 major ecological investment projects worth CZK 3 billion. One new installation filters out 61 tonnes of dust per year. The City of Ostrava is also involved in a range of projects focusing on environmental improvements, including a web portal, www.zdravaova.cz, which enables citizens to monitor current air quality indicators, and a project funding short "health breaks" for children from high-risk areas.
One of the most pressing environmental problems currently facing the city concerns the oil lagoons at the site of the former Ostramo chemical plant. In 1996 the Czech government took over the site and drew up plans for a cleanup. The state-owned company Diamo was created to implement these plans. The situation has been the subject of government-level discussions,[when?] and Finance Minister Andrej Babiš visited Ostrava in March 2015. The situation is currently under review by the Ministry of Finance, which is drawing up conceptual documentation and will then announce a public tender for the cleanup work.
Air condition in Ostrava is currently very poor, with high concentrations of benzopyrene. The pollution is so serious that it has been described in folklore; local people refer to "Černá Ostrava" (Black Ostrava) and have several songs about it.
Ostrava has four permanent theatres: the National Moravian-Silesian Theatre (with two permanent venues, the Antonín Dvořák Theatre and the Jiří Myron Theatre), the Petr Bezruč Theatre, the Aréna Chamber Theatre and the Ostrava Puppet Theatre – which hosts the international Spectaculo Interesse festival every odd-numbered year and the Theatre Without Barriers festival every even-numbered year.
Ostrava is home to the Janáček Philharmonic Orchestra, and hosts a number of international annual or biennial classical music festivals, including Janáček May, the St Wenceslaus Music Festival and the Ostrava Days new music festival. Since 2002 Ostrava has been the venue for the annual multi-genre music festival Colours of Ostrava, which features an international line-up of artists and attracts crowds of tens of thousands.
Other cultural events in Ostrava include the film and theatre festivals One World, Ostrava Camera Eye (Czech: Ostrava Kamera Oko), the International Outdoor Films Festival, and the Summer Shakespeare Festival (held on an outdoor stage at the Silesian Ostrava Castle). Folklore festivals include the Harmony (Czech: Souznění) international festival of Advent and Christmas traditions and crafts, Folklore Without Borders, and the Irish Cultural Festival.
Ostrava has several museums and galleries:
Much of Ostrava's architectural heritage is in the city centre, which is a protected heritage zone. The most notable structures in this historic core are theatres, banks, department stores and other public buildings dating from the turn of the 20th century, at the time of Ostrava's greatest boom. The central Masarykovo náměstí (Masaryk Square), named after the first President of Czechoslovakia Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, features the historic old city hall building and a Marian plague column from 1702. Nearby Smetanovo náměstí (Smetana Square) features the Antonín Dvořák Theatre and the Functionalist Knihcentrum bookstore. To the west are a series of grand, imposing bank buildings and the Elektra Palace on Nádražní Street, while to the north is the New City Hall with its landmark viewing tower, overlooking the large open space of Prokešovo náměstí.
The city centre also has two notable religious buildings – the 13th-century Church of St Wenceslaus and the Cathedral of the Divine Saviour, the second largest church in Moravia and Czech Silesia. Ostrava's central district contains works by architects including Karel Kotas, Josef Gočár, Ernst Korner and Alexander Graf.
Poruba is a large district of Ostrava in the western part of the conurbation, noted for its distinctive 1950s Socialist realist architecture. Inspired by the grandiose buildings of Soviet cities, Poruba also incorporates historical pastiche features drawing on ancient, Renaissance and Classicist models. The main entrance to the part of Poruba built at this time is through a grand triumphal arch.
The Vítkovice district was for several decades the centre of the local iron and steel industry. The influx of workers led the company to build housing for its employees, plus civic amenities, a town hall and a church. The historic parts of the district are built in the company's distinctive style featuring red-brick façades.
Other districts of the city with a distinctive architectural heritage include Přívoz (with its grand Secession buildings) and the Jubilee housing development (Czech: Jubilejní kolonie) in Hrabůvka, built as a workers' housing complex in the 1920s.
Ostrava's Regional Court is based in a historic building on the Ostravice embankment (Havlíčkovo nábřeží) in the city centre. Its jurisdiction extends to the whole of the Moravian-Silesian Region. The District Court is based in a new building on U Soudu St. in the Municipal District of Poruba. Its jurisdiction covers the territory of the City of Ostrava. The district courts of Ostrava and Brno are the largest in the country in terms of the number of judges. In addition to these courts Ostrava is also home to regional and district Public Prosecutor's Offices, as well as a branch of the Olomouc-based Supreme Public Prosecutor's Office.
Ostrava has several sports clubs in various sports, and has hosted many major national and international sports events. In 2014 the city was one of the European Cities of Sport. Ostrava is home to a number of top-level sports clubs, including FC Baník Ostrava (football), HC Vítkovice Steel (ice hockey), NH Ostrava (basketball), 1. SC Vítkovice and FBC Ostrava (floorball), Arrows Ostrava (baseball and softball), and VK Ostrava (volleyball).
Sports venues in the city include athletics facilities, football pitches and stadiums, ice rinks and ice stadiums, multi-purpose sports halls, tennis courts, squash clubs, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, among others. The most important facilities are operated by the City-owned company SAREZA. The company's outdoor swimming pool in Ostrava-Poruba is the largest facility of its kind in Central Europe.
Ostrava has opportune conditions for cycling, with its generally flat terrain and an extensive network of cycle routes. There are also several popular leisure and recreation areas in the region surrounding Ostrava; the Beskids and Jeseníky Mountains (about 30 km (19 mi) and 60 km (37 mi) from Ostrava respectively) are popular with skiers in the winter season, and hikers, cyclists and anglers from spring to autumn. A special "cyclebus" shuttles between Ostrava and the Beskydy Mountains from May to September, enabling cyclists to transport their bikes on a special trailer. In the winter there is a similar service for skiers known as the "skibus".
There are also several golf courses in the region, including the Šilheřovice golf club in the grounds of the local château, and courses in Čeladná, Ropice and Ostravice. About 30 km (19 mi) from Ostrava is another golf course in Kravaře.
Ostrava has a long tradition of hosting top-level European and world championships. The Golden Spike international athletics meeting has been held in the city every year since 1961. In 2004 and 2015 Ostrava co-hosted (with Prague) the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship at the Ostrava Aréna.
Major sporting events to have been hosted in Ostrava include:
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