Znojmo is a royal and ancient town which features a castle that overlooks the River valley at Dyje. For hundreds of years, it marked a vital border between Austria and Moravia. Throughout the Cold War, which effectively turned the border region into a no-go area, this town degenerated, ostracised from its’ hinterland in lower Austria.
Today, with this frontier now completely open—there are not even any passport formalities—Znojmo has started to re-establish and redefine itself as the cultural hub of the region. The traditional strength of this town, wine production, has become supplemented by an array of music and wine festivals, which now happen over each year. Furthermore, comprehensive biking and hiking trails have been developed, which are inspired by the natural beauty of the area. For tips and maps, visit Informační Středisko (beneath).
Numerous extremely quaint pensions have opened recently, to make Znojmo the ideal selection for a couple of leisure days following a busy stay in Prague, or as a nice stopping-off location, should you be travelling in-between Vienna and Prague.
Znojmo was established as far back in history as the seventh century, and this town became prominent during the ninth century, once the Grand Moravian Empire swept to power. During the eleventh and twelfth centuries, Prince Břetislav the First built a fortress in the town. During 1226, the king awarded Znojmo rights (which included wine making and collecting taxes)—even prior to Brno, the Moravian capital. The location of Znojmo, on the border, ensured that it was the natural choice to be a centre for trading, and the Czech kings took great care of the town.
As well as the castle and the adjacent Romanesque rotunda, that dates from the eleventh century, children will like to explore this town’s comprehensive network of tunnels, the Znojmo Underground (Znojemské podzemí). Over hundreds of years, the locals here carved out almost 30 km of under-ground passageways. These were utilized for anything from hiding from invaders, to storing wine, munitions and pickles. About 1 kilometre of the ancient tunnel network has been excavated. It is now open to the public.
Znojmo boasts a couple of other noteworthy characteristics: It is regarded as the Czech Republic’s pickle capital. They are made from the top cucumbers in the country. And, once they are placed in a spicy sauce, such as Znojemský guláš, the sweet and sour pickles undoubtedly taste delicious.
Znojmo also offers some fairly good beer. Hostan, the traditional brewer of the town, has won lots of national accolades. Regrettably, the local brewery got closed a few years ago, and beer production was transferred elsewhere. Nonetheless, numerous pubs still proudly offer the home-town lager.
Getting Your Bearings
The main square in Znojmo is Masarykovo náměstí. Virtually everything you will wish to see is located on or close to it. Zelenářská Street, that runs out of the north-west corner of the square, takes you to Saint Nicholas Church and the castle.
In Znojmo’s centre, the Informační Středisko, in Obroková Ten (www.znojmocity.cz), will assist with accommodation, directions and maps. Also, they sell biking maps and can give you advice about rentals. Ask what is on in the town, and they will instantly book your tickets for you. This office opens during October, September, June and May, Mondays to Fridays, from 08:00 to 18:00, and Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00 to 17:00; August and July each day from 09:00 to 19:00; and November-April, Mondays to Fridays from 08:00 to 16:00.
Znojmo can be easily reached via car, and it is particularly convenient for people travelling from or to Telč or Vienna. Join the D1 motor-way to the south of Prague, and leave at Highway Thirty-Eight towards Jihlava. Once you go into the town, you are already on the correct highway, so simply travel through the town centre and read the signs. Out of Prague, the journey should take around 2.5 hours.
Via public transport, buses are normally cheaper and faster than trains, both from Brno and Prague. Numerous buses from Florenc station in Prague make the trip to Znojmo each day in around three hours. The 1 way fare is about 200 CZK. Out of Brno, the journey is far quicker (about 1 hour) and costs around 65 CZK one way.
Via train out of Prague, the entire journey lasts a minimum of five hours through Brno and will cost about 500 CZK. You will normally need to change trains in Břeclav. Out of Brno, numerous trains make the journey each day, although again you will normally need to change trains in Břeclav. This ride lasts slightly more than two hours and will cost around 160 CZK.