If you are walking round the centre of Brno, and I strongly recommend you do, you will sooner or later come upon the Stara Radnice, or Old Town Hall if you prefer. It is a magnificent edifice and apparently the oldest secular building in a city that is overflowing with them. In the way of these things, it has been altered and added to over the years but the oldest portions of the building date back to the early 13th century.
The most impressive portion of the building is the gate and tower, which you can see in the main photograph accompanying this tip. Do you notice anything strange about it? If you look closely at the detail above the gate, you will see the middle of the five spires is crooked, and thereby hangs a tale. Legend has it that the foreman of works, Antonín Pilgram by name, was promised a large sum of money from the city fathers for decorating the gate as you see. When they reneged on this promise, Pilgram allegedly "bent" the central spire to remind them of their corruption.
Another fine story attaches itself to the building and gives rise to one of the more surreal sights you are likely to see. Back in the depths of time, a dragon was supposedly terorising the city and was killed by a local butcher who baited him with lime. If you look at the second photo, you will see that the "dragon" is indeed a crocodile which hangs from the roof of the gate. Certainly not what I expected to see in Southern Moravia. To be honest, I am still perplexed as to what a crocodile was doing here in the first place!
For a small fee, you can climb the tower which is almost 200 feet high (63 metres) and apparently it affords wonderful views but I am not a great fan of heights so I gave it a miss.
The core of the today's building dates back to 1240. The late gothical portal was made by Antonin Pilgrim at the beginning of the 16th c.
Have a look at the Brno Dragon, about that there are legends in the Moravian town. According to a saying, there was once a monster who murdered the cattle in Brno and scared its citizens. The mayor offered a generous price to the one who succeeds in killing the cruel monster. No one dared to do that. Solely one knight put poison in cup of water close to where the dragon lived, so it was poisoned after that and put at the entrance of the old town hall.
Indeed, the Brno dragon is a crocodile, a gift of the Hungarian king Matthias II, who was in conflict with his brother Rudolf II about the throne of the Holy Roman Empire. Through this present he hoped to win the Moravian people on his side.
After you climb 173 stairs you get a beautiful view on Brno - to all directions. In the below parts of the hall you can visit the exhibitions and also look at the panoramatic slideshow on different topics (all included in the tower entrance fee). This observation spot is one of my favorites.
The guard tower which is part of old city hall, contained the main gate to the once fortified city of Brunn. Construction of the tower began about 750 years ago, and its mainly Renaissance appearance dates back to about 1500. The onion shaped domes were added somewhat later. The Gothic relief sculptures that adorn the gate were crafted by Anton Pilgram in about 1510. The observation platform around the upper level was used by archers to defend the city. Now visitors use it to get good views of the city.
Gothic arches form the ceiling of the arcaded gateway. Hanging from the central arch is a perfectly preserved 400 year old taxadermied crocodile. This croc was a gift from the emporer to the people of Brunn. Because Europeans of those days had never heard of crocodiles, they assumed the croc to be a dragon slain by the Habsburg knights. Ever since that time the croc has been known as the Brunn dragon.
Visitors can tour the tower, platform, and much of the city hall. The adult admission price is about 30 korunas. It is open most days except during the winter. It is well worth the small fee. The dragon can be enjoyed free of charge, but don't attempt to feed or pet him.
My first way in Brno led me to the Old Town hall - because the tourist office where you can get maps and other information about Brno is located in it`s premises as well. The origins of the building date back to the 13th century. I liked the entrance door to the Old Town hall, it is beautifully decorated. In the archway you can also see the Brno Dragon (in fact it is a crocodile) hanging on the ceiling. For a fee of 30 crowns you are permitted to enter the tower, from where you can enjoy a very nice view of the city - you cannot miss this. Furthermore you can see 4 rooms of the building.
Famous for one thing I guess.... the Dragon suspended on wires inside the entrance hall?
If you go a little deeper you can climb the tower to see some views over the city and also see the small museum.
It's some time since I went up last and the British Council had offices here then.
The biggest eye-catcher in Brno's old-town is probably Stara Radnice, the old town hall.
Its tower is also climbable, but although it is one of the highest points in the city, its views aren't worth it (if you are going for scenic outlooks visit Spielberk castle).
The first thing you'll notice is the gothic decoration over the old town hall's gate, which may look misconstructed due to its contorted turrets. This facade was build by the famous architect master Pilgram (a Brno's native, who's later masterpiece was the building of the St. Stephen's cathedral in Vienna). The legend says, that he consciously contorted the turrets to take revenge on the administration of Brno, which refused to pay him properly.
If you walk through the door you'll see a crocodile (which was reputed as a dragon in former times) and a wheel, from which the legend says, that it was build in a single day with diabolic help.
This is the great view that you will have, when climbing up the 180 steps to the observation-deck of the tower of the old townhall.
The tower is open for visitors :
April - September 09.00 a.m. - 05.00 p.m.
Inside the same building you will also find the tourist-information of Brno / Brünn.
It is open daily :
Monday - Friday : 08.00 a.m. - 06.00 p.m.
Saturday&Sunday: 09.00 a.m. - 05.00 p.m.
On my picture :
St.Peter and Paul cathedral on Petrin hill and the big square is Zelny trh. / the cabbage market
The old townhall is a must for every tourist and it is easy to get there, as you may see the high tower from almost any place in Brno.
You may climb up the tower and have a perfect panonrama-view and also the interior of the old townhall is worth a visit :
There is the famous crocodile & the wheel that was made within just one day ( read about the whole legend of the wheel in "local customs" )
These are the arches on the 1st floor of the old townhall and you will pass by them, when climbing up the steps to the observation-deck of the tower.
When you click on my picture, you may see the coats of arms of the various provinces belonging to the area of Brno / Brünn.
Just remember, when seeing these arcades, that you have to walk through them in order to get to the lovely small celebrations-room that is shown on my next picture !
When you walk up the tower of Stara Radnice / the old townhall you will get into a room with this lovely old wooden ceiling.
In medieval times most of the ceilings were made that way by heavy truncks of wood, mostly without special decorations.
But in a townhall they were mostly beautifully decorated with woodcarvings or paintings like here in Brno / Brünn.
The city of Brno / Brünn became rich mainly by the production of textiles .
This big crocodile is hanging down from the ceiling of the arcade of the old townhall of Brno / Brünn.
It was a donation by emperor Mathias Corvinus to the city of Brünn in 1608.
Of course nobody knew anthing about crocodiles these days and so there started a rumor that it would be a dragon that was killed by some brave men.
ooo ooo oooo ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo oooo ooo ooo
This crokodile makes certainly a great place to meet, as you may pass through this arcade day and night and tourists will find it easily, when they always head for the tower, that is visible from almost all over town, and local people know it anyway.
When you walk up the tower of the old townhall of Brno / Brünn, you may search for this great hall in the 1st floor.
It is open to the public and there is NO extra entrance-fee.
The hall is obviously still used for wedding-ceremonies or other festivities and it looks really great with its wonderful paintings on the ceiling and the walls, pretending to have structures, but beeing in fact totally flat.
Only the sculpture in the middle is real !
This building probably goes back to the 13th century and was used for local goverment up to 1935. A complete view of the building is hidden by its location within the close streets, but the tower can been seen rising up above the rooftops. The tower can be climbed for a view of the cabbage market and city rooftops. Above the entrance to the building is a beautiful, but twisted stonecarving. The top of the centre pinnacle of the five that are carved above the entrance is bent! The story is that the city elders did not pay or correctly pay the stonemason, who left this reminder of the crookedness of the city.
This is really a nice decoration on the Old Town Hall's gate.
It was made by Anton Pilgram around 1511. He was not happy with this decoration hence he bent the middle spire a bit.
You can see the bent middle spire if you click on the photo on the left...
Wonder what's the real story anyway.