Located roughly halfway between Prague and Krakow, Olomouc boasts a concentration of Baroque architecture second only to Prague. Olomouc was founded as a royal town near the river Morava in the early 13th century. The history of settlements here is much older. In the mid-11th century a Przemyslid castle is mentioned; the Moravian bishopric was founded here at that time. There are numerous religious monuments, such as the Bishop’s Cathedral of St. Wenceslas, surrounded with residential buildings with the former castle and canonry houses. The Bishop’s palace is an outstanding monument with a complex design of windows. In the building of the capitulary dean the last Przemyslid King, Wenceslas III, was murdered in 1306.
The second significant section of the town is the western part with the Upper and the Lower Squares. The remarkable rectory Church of St. Maurice and the extensive Town Hall with a bay chapel and a modern astronomical clock date from the Gothic period. The Renaissance is represented by several town palaces and a complex of merchants´ houses called “Pod bohatymi kramy”(Under the rich shops).
After the Thirty Years War the town was magnificently rebuilt in the Baroque style. Besides the buildings of the Jesuit order, the Archbishop’s Palace or the nearby pilgrimage place called “Svaty kopecek” (Holy Hill), a unique complex of six Baroque fountains and plague columns has been preserved. On the site of a large Baroque fort a green zone of parks and orchards was founded in the 19th century.
The town is the seat of the district government of the Olomouc region.