Brno

BrnoBrno or Brunn is the second largest city in the Czech Republic by population and area, the largest Moravian city, and the historical capital city of the Margraviate of Moravia. Brno is the administrative center of the South Moravian Region in which it forms a separate district (Brno-City District). The city lies at the confluence of the Svitava and Svratka rivers and has about 400,000 residents;  its greater metropolitan area is home to more than 800,000 people while its larger urban zone had population of about 730,000 in 2004.

Brno is the seat of judicial authority of the Czech Republic – it is the seat of the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court, the Supreme Administrative Court, and the Supreme Public Prosecutor’s Office. The city is also a significant administrative centre. It is the seat of a number of state authorities, including the Ombudsman, the Office for the Protection of Competition and the Czech Agriculture and Food Inspection Authority. Brno is also an important centre of higher education, with 33 faculties belonging to 13 institutes of higher learning and about 89,000 students. There is also a studio of Czech Television and Czech Radio.

Brno Exhibition Centre ranks among the largest exhibition centres in Europe (23rd in the world). The complex opened in 1928 and established the tradition of large exhibitions and trade fairs held in Brno.Brno is also known for hosting motorbike and other races on the Masaryk Circuit, a tradition established in 1930 in which the Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix is one of the most prestigious races. Another notable cultural tradition is an international fireworks competition, Ignis Brunensis, that usually attracts one or two hundred thousand daily visitors.

The most visited sights of the city include the Špilberk castle and fortress and the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul on Petrov hill, two medieval buildings that dominate the cityscape and are often depicted as its traditional symbols. The other large preserved castle near the city is Veveří Castle by the Brno Dam Lake. This castle is the site of a number of legends, as are many other places in Brno. Another important monument of Brno is the functionalist Villa Tugendhat which has been included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. One of the natural sights nearby is the Moravian Karst.

The inhabitants, predominantly German prior to World War II, are now mainly Czech. Brno has developed as an educational (Masaryk University, 1919) and industrial centre, famed for its international trade fairs. The city’s manufactures include textiles and metallurgical products. A famous light machine gun—the ZB, later manufactured in Enfield, England (now part of Enfield borough, London), as the Bren machine gun—was developed at Brno. Pop. (2007 est.) 366,680.