Ostrava is a city full of contrast. It is the third largest city in our republic. Ostrava has a rather special position in our republic. For many people is Ostrava inhospitable, dirty, and full of rude and hard working people. But in its history Ostrava was a commercial centre and important transportation junction.
Ostrava has 321 830 inhabitants and its area is 21 424 ha.
Ostrava is named after the river Ostravice whose first name was Ostrava. This name is compound from two words – ostr, it means sharp or smart and ava, it means water.
In 1267, Bruno, Bishop of Olomouc founded here a fortified town, which was to protect the entry to Moravia in the North. From 1279 comes first written mention of St. Wenceslas Church. In 1362, King Charles IV gave to town the law to make an annual market. In 1556 here was the greatest fire which destroyed almost all houses in the place. In 1625 Ostrava there was great plague. The town began to grow rapidly after 1763 when large deposits of coal were discovered in the Slezská Ostrava valley of Burňa. This rich black coal basin became basis of a quick development of the mining, metallurgical or chemical industries. In 1880 here were the greatest flood in river Odra and Ostravice. During the Second World War Ostrava was part of Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. Soviet army liberated Ostrava on 30th April 1945.
In 1828 Rudolf´s Metallurgical Works was founded, it was founded by Rudolf, Archbishop of Olomouc, but now it is called the Vítkovice Ironworks. In 1895 the first power station in Ostrava region was built. Ostrava has gradually become the chief centre of heavy industry supplying the country with coal, coke, rolled stock, steel or chemical products. After 1945 New Metallurgical Works was built in Ostrava-Kunčice. This quick development of industry gave many opportunities of interesting, important and difficult jobs but at the same time it brought a lot of troubles especially grand ecological problems. The quick development of our town needed a lot of workers and so the number of inhabitants steadily increased and required and extensive housing construction. New large houses estates have been built in Poruba, Zábřeh, Hrabůvka, Dubina, Výškovice or Fifejdy with a lot of block of flats, schools, parks, play grounds, shops and entertainment facilities. But after 1989 there were big changes. Works in many industrial plants have been stopped. The last coal was mined on 30th June 1994 and all the collieries have been closed. On 27th September 1998 production of iron in the Vítkovice Ironworks has been stopped.
CHANGES IN INDUSTRY
Thousands of miners and steelworkers have been requalified and have found work in other spheres. Banking and service industries have also been developing very quickly. Ostrava is situated 15 km away from the nearest border crossing to Poland and 55 km away from Slovakia, and this location is proving economically advantageous. Many hotels and restaurant facilities are being reconstructed and nowadays Ostrava boasts premises for exhibitions, trade fairs, cultural meeting and sports competition. But in Ostrava is still one of the biggest problems unemployment.
St Wenceslas Church – it is the oldest building in Ostrava. It was founded in 13th century. Its appearance was changed during the centuries because there were two big fires and because people wanted to have a church in style, which was modern at their age – for example Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque style.
The Old Town Hall - Today there is seat of Museum of Ostrava. It was built in 16th century; from the same century comes the tower with astronomical clock.
The New Town Hall – It was built from 1925 and it was opened on 28th October 1930. Town Hall has an 85 m high tower. There are also 4 statues, which symbolise 4 functions of the city – mining, metallurgy, business and science. In front of the New Town Hall stands statue of Ikaros.
Silesian-Ostravian Castle – first written mention of it comes from 1297. Since 1930s ty it was the possession of Wieczkovs. After Second World War it was a state possession and now it is private possession.
In Ostrava are also 2 manor houses. One is situated in Ostrava-Vítkovice and comes from 19th century and the other is situated in Ostrava-Poruba and comes from 16th century.
St Catharine Church – it is a wooden church in Ostrava-Hrabová. It was built in 16th century and around the church there was 1909 cemetery until.
In Ostrava people can visit five theatres – Antonín Dvořák´s Theatre, Jiří Myron´s Theatre, Petr Bezruč´s Theatre, Arena Theatre and Pupil Theatre. In Ostrava there are also 21 galleries (as Shagal Gallery in Ostrava-Přívoz or the House of Arts in the city centre), 9 cultural houses and 5 museum.
Many concerts take place in the House of Culture in Ostrava-Vítkovice.
In Ostrava one famous musical body – Janáček´s Philharmonic Orchestra has its home and some smaller bodies.
Children who are good at playing some musical instrument or at singing can study at secondary music school – conservatoire.
Pupils of basic schools can visit arts schools after their lessons.
Young people can visit some music clubs where their favourite music style is played.
As a technical memorial we can mention Mining Museum, Industry Museum – it is coal-mine or Observatory in Ostrava-Poruba.
Here are also 6 cinemas.
Fans of almost every kind of sports can find this sport in Ostrava. Typical sports are ice hockey, football and also new kinds of sports as baseball, softball, American football or many others. Ostrava has an ice hockey club in the highest state competition and a football team in the highest state competition and many teams in lower competitions.
In Ostrava there are a lot of basic schools direct at sports such as athletic or football for example. At secondary sport school study students, who are very good at their sports.
If a person liked to practise a sport he can visit one of sport grounds or gyms. In summer a person can visit one of 5 swimming pools and in winter one of 11 swimming pools with a roof. In winter people can also visit one of 3 winter stadiums. Near Ostrava people can also play golf at golf course in Šilheřovice.
Ostrava has all types of schools, it means it has from basic schools to universities. In Ostrava there are two universities:
VŠB – This University moved to Ostrava from Příbram after the Second World War. Students can study there at 6 faculties – the economy faculty, the electronical and informative faculty, the mining-geological faculty, the metallurgical faculty, the building faculty and the mechanical faculty – it means that VŠB is a technical university.
Ostrava University – has 4 faculties – the philosophical faculty, the pedagogical faculty, the natural history faculty and the faculty of health.
Students who don’t live in Ostrava can live in halls of residence during their studies.
People can take an advantage of sports facilities or they can visit theatres, cinemas, museums or galleries.
Families with small children can visit the ZOO – it was opened in 1951. There are about 900 animals from the whole world. Children can stroke small goats or sheep. There are also a lot of merry-go-rounds and swings and seesaws.
In Ostrava-Zábřeh and Vyškovice people can visit Wood Bělský. Or they can visit Wood Polanský – it is a natural reservation.
People also can visit Hukvaldy – it is not far from Ostrava. There are ruins of the castle from 13th or 14th century. Leoš Janáček was born there and there is a statue of fox from his famous opera.
During the weekend people can visit some towns which are not far from Ostrava as Rožnov pod Radhoštěm – it is a very interesting place for visitors, because they can see there a wooden town with houses from last centuries and they can buy there a lot of souvenirs. Štramber – we can find here lovely houses, which were built in the rock and ruins of the castle with the tower called Štramberská truba. There is also a well known cave called Šipka.
Other nice towns are Starý Jičín or Hradec nad Moravicí.
WHERE PEOPLE LIVE
The most of people live in flat at housing estate since 1950s or 1960s. But at the outskirts of Ostrava people live in their own family houses. Now many people who have enough money and live in a flat build their own houses, because they want to have something that is theirs and they want to have more privacy.
THE BIGGEST PROBLEMS
Unemployment – For almost all 20th century Ostrava was mining and metallurgical city but after 1989 here were big changes. A lot of factories have been closed and a lot of people lost their job. Because Ostrava is situated at the eastern border of our republic, far from our capital city, nobody in Prague is interested in problems of Ostrava because in Prague there are enough jobs and they often say that who wants job finds it. It is not interesting for them that not all people can move because they live here all their life and they have here a family, a flat or a house and they can’t leave it. Politics still promise that it will be better but they don’t do anything for it. Big problem for young people is to find a job and so many young people leave Ostrava and move to different parts of our republic.
Ecology – In Ostrava was heavy industry and it means that now we have big problems with air pollution but in the last few years it is better because a lot of factories have stopped with work and air became cleaner but still sky in Ostrava looks ugly. Landscape was destroyed by mining industry and some regions of the city are not stable and sink down. If you look at Ostrava from a high tower, you must say that it is not nice because you see almost only factories, you don’t see any green woods or clean river. River Ostravice is also dirty with pollution from industry.
Crimi – Now a lot of parents haven’t time for their children and children haven’t any place for their games. And it is one of the reasons why children sit on benches in front of their prefabs or walk throw the housing estate and drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes. Because they don’t know what to do they destroy something what they see or they steal. A lot of people haven’t a job and if they need money, they steal. Many young boys are members of fan-clubs of some sport team . It is not bad but some of them are very brutal and want to fight with members of other fan-clubs.
I live in the city part Hrabová.
Village Hrabová was founded probably in 13th century. The first written mention comes from 1297. It is named after trees, which were on the banks of the river Ostravice. In Hrabová were a lot of ponds. In 19th century there were 140 ponds with the area 150 ha. The largest of them was Pilík with area 37 ha. The second largest was Šídlovec and after it is named housing estate in Hrabová. Now is in Hrabová only 2 small ponds called Pilíky and two others are in Paskov and people call them Kuboň.
In 1780 for children from Hrabová and Hrabůvka was opened the school in Hrabová. In 1900 a new school was built and now in this building is situated post office and local town office. The newest school was opened in 1957 and children still visit it. Now there are basic school and private Business Academy.
In Hrabová is also situated wooden St. Catharine Church, which was built in 16th century (1564).