And that’s Ostrava, the Czech Republic’s ‘third city’. A strange mixture of ambition, history, culture, militarism, and industrial wasteland, sitting at the heart of Europe, not hiding from its troubled past, but embracing it and using it as a means to draw you in.
Ostrava is a former industrial town where its location at the confluence of four rivers and vast deposits of anthracite under the ground made it a perfect iron smelting location.
With iron smelting now part of Ostrava’s past, the city is making the most of its heritage and showcases its industrial architecture along with social realist buildings from the Soviet era to draw tourists. The former blast furnace in the Lower Vítkovice area of the city centre is now a viewing platform and cafe, the former gasometer now converted to an auditorium and every year the protected former ironworks, mine and steelworks plays host to the annual multi genre Colours of Ostrava music festival.
Meanwhile, the city embraces its proximity to Poland and Russia with its annual NATO days airshow showing off all aspects of security and military. Free for the public, the event’s motto is “Our security is not given and there is no prosperity without security.“
With the Janáček May International Music Festival (classical and jazz), a fine art museum as well as ethnographical and a science museum, With two universities a brewery and a lively pub and club scene on Stodolní Street, Ostrava definitely seems worth a visit.