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Ostrava ( , , ) is the third largest city in the Czech Republicmarker, however it is the second largest urban agglomeration after Prague. It is also the administrative center of the Moravian-Silesian Region and of the Municipality with Extended Competence. Ostrava is located at the confluence of the Ostravice, Oder, Lučinamarker and Opavamarker rivers. Its history and growth have been largely affected by exploitation and further use of the high quality black coal deposits discovered in the locality, giving the town a look of an industrial city and a nickname of the “steel heart of the republic” ( ) during the communist era of Czechoslovakiamarker. Many of the heavy industry companies are being closed down or transformed.


Ostrava was an important crossroads of prehistoric trading routes, namely the Amber Road. Archaeological finds have proved that the area around Ostrava has been permanently inhabited for 25,000 years. The town itself was founded in 1267. Until the late 18th century, Ostrava was a small provincial town with a population around one thousand inhabitants engaged in handicraft.

In 1763, large deposits of black coal were discovered, leading to an industrial boom and a flood of new immigrants in the following centuries. During the 19th century, several mine towers were raised in and around the city and the first steel works were established. Industrial growth was made possible by the completion of Kaiser-Ferdinands-Nordbahn from Viennamarker in 1847. The 20th century saw further industrial expansion of the city accompanied by an increase in population and the quality of civic services and culture. However, during World War II, Ostrava - as an important source of steel for the arms industry - suffered several massive bombing campaigns that caused extensive damage to the city.

Since the Velvet revolution in 1989 the city has been going through major changes. A thorough restructuring of industry is taking place - coal mining in the area of the city was stopped in 1994 and a large part of the Vítkovice ironworks near the city center was closed down in 1998. Both actions improved the environment dramatically, although the Arcelor Mittal plant (ex-Nová Huť) continues to heavily pollute the Radvanicemarker district and the surrounding area, resulting in one of the highest concentrations of PM10 dust in Europe.


Period Name
1861–1864 Hermann Zwierzina
1864–1873 Alois Anderka
1873–1880 Konstantin Grünwald
1880–1888 Anton Lux
1888–1901 Adalbert Johanny
1901–1918 Gustav Fiedler
1918 Johann Ulrich (until 17 December 1918)
1918–1935 Jan Prokeš
1935–1939 Josef Chalupník
1939–1940 Josef Hinner
1940–1945 SS Sturmbannführer Emil Beier
1945 Josef Lampa (interim, for three weeks)
1945–1960 Josef Kotas
1960–1964 Jan Buchvaldek
1964–1968 Josef Kempný
1968–1971 Zdeněk Kupka
1971–1986 Eduard Foltýn
1986–1989 Bedřich Lipina
1989–1990 Lubomír Vejr
1990–1993 Jiří Smejkal
1993–2001 Evžen Tošenovský
2001–2002 Čestmír Vlček
2002–2006 Aleš Zedník
2006– Petr Kajnar

Geography and climate

Ostrava is located in the north-eastern area of the Czech Republic, very close to the Polishmarker (15 km) and Slovakmarker (55 km) borders. It spreads over the northern part of the natural north-south valley called the Moravian Gate (Moravská brána) with an average elevation of approximately 210m above sea level.

The local climate is continental temperate, with hot, humid summers and mild, dry winters. The yearly average temperature is 10.2°C (January low: -1.2°, July high: 25.0°), the yearly rainfall is around 526 mm.

People and demographics

As of March 2009, the official estimated population of Ostrava was 336,557 inhabitants, living in a total of 23 districts formed by the unification of 34 original small towns and villages. Ostrava covers an area of 212 km². The population density is 1589 people per km².

Historically, among the most influential ethnic groups besides Czechs in Ostrava were the Poles, Germans and the Jews. However, during and after the World War II years the situation changed completely, as most Ostravian Jews were killed or transported to concentration camp (on October 17, 1939 the first transport of Jews to a lager under the Nisko Plan, and the Nazi administrative innovation known as the General Government was held in Ostrava - the first of its kind in Europe). After World War II, Germans were expelled from Ostrava according to the Potsdam Agreement. Thus, the population of the city, has become a mixture of Silesians, Moravians, Czechs, Slovaks and Poles. The mayor of Ostrava Josef Hinner opposed the deportation with the magistrate and German forces and started to organize the resistance to smuggle Jewish citizens from the city and surrounding areas. Due to his opposition, mayor Hinner was deported and placed in a concentration camp, barely surviving World War II.

Due to the recent and ongoing massive restructuring of the heavy industry in the area, the unemployment rate is 10.76 % (as of March 2009).

Steel industry and underground coal mines

Some of the largest industrial companies lie in the city of Ostrava. The Vitkovice steel works, located in the suburb of the same name near the city center, concentrates on metallurgy and machine engineering. It was established in 1828 and now it is undergoing a major transformation. The oldest part of the company, called "Dolní oblast" (the "Bottom area"), was closed down and there is an ongoing debate whether this area should be preserved as an industrial open-air museum or torn down. Another key metallurgical enterprise in Ostrava, Nová huť (the "New Steel Works"), established in 1951, belongs to the international company ArcelorMittal.

All underground coal mines were closed down shortly after the Velvet revolution in 1989, due to unfavourable geological and political conditions which caused mining to become uneconomical in the post-communist system, and also because of ex-mayor Evžen Tošenovský's drive to modernize the city's industries. The last minecart with coal was retrieved from new Odra Mine (formerly František Mine) on June 30, 1994.


Karolina is name of area approximately 30 hectares in size situated 500m from the city's historic square. The Karolina area was originally used for heavy industry. After demolition of the old coking plant and clearing the entire area, the Karolina site can now be used to extend the Ostrava city centre.

In late June 2006 the Dutch firm Multi Development won the contract to develop the grounds of the former Karolina site. Multi Development plans to invest 13 billion CZK (EUR 450 million).

Many new apartment buildings, offices and shops are planned for this new city district. There will also be a new church, a high-rise building, a large park by the Ostravice River and a university campus.


There are four theatres in Ostrava: Moravian-Silesian National Theatre (Národní divadlo moravskoslezské). It has two buildings: Divadlo Antonína Dvořáka (named after Antonín Dvořák) and Divadlo Jiřího Myrona. Further there are Petr Bezruč Theatre (named after Petr Bezruč), Komorní scéna Arénamarker (Chamber theatre Arena) and Divadlo loutek (Puppet theatre).

Ostrava's Janáček Philharmonic Orchestra (formerly called the Czech Radio Orchestra) is one of Europe's better orchestras.

Ostrava also stands for the European Capital of Culture 2015.


Technical University of Ostrava

Main sights

While Ostrava is usually not in the top ten list of tourist attractions of the Czech Republic, there are a number of interesting places to see and things to do there. To the north of the city center there is the Museum of Mining (Hornické muzeum) presenting a unique collection of the coal mining machinery and equipment, a reconstruction of a mammoth hunters' settlement. Going down the shaft to see the 250m-long underground corridors and an original mining gallery from the 19th century is also part of the exhibition.

Just to the north and running west of the Museum of Mining is a fortification system known as the "Beneš Wall", a line of garrison fortifications similar to the Maginot Line. The hurried construction of the line of defenses was of great concern to the German military, and after German annexation was used by the German military to train for their attacks against comparable fort complexes on the Western front.

Another attraction, which is becoming more and more popular mainly among young people, is Stodolní Street (Stodolní ulice), actually a collection of streets just next to the center, full of bars, pubs and clubs, bringing night-life to the city and thousands of visitors all year long. There are currently around 60 places to have a drink or dance on this street, each with its own style and atmosphere. There are a few bigger events at this area throughout the year, the largest of which is the Colours of Ostrava - a summer music festival hosting many musicians and groups from all over the world.

The new city hall viewing towermarker provides visitors a panoramic view of the city and surroundings from a height of about 72 meters. During clear weather the Moravian-Silesian Beskids and Jeseníky mountain ranges are visible.

The Silesian Ostrava Castle is one of the city's most historic cultural monuments. The castle was built in the eighties and nineties of the 13th century. In 1534, the gothic castle was rebuilt into a renaissance chateau. It was restored recently after many years of dilapidation caused by coal mining under the castle. Today, the castle is one of the most important tourist attraction of the city. It hosted the Colours of Ostrava music festival in 2007.

You can visit a zoological garden located in Stromovka park in Slezská Ostrava. On May 1, 1960 it was opened to the public.


FC Baník Ostrava
Ostrava has teams in the three major Czech Republic professional sports leagues (football, ice-hockey and basketball).The city's two current League football teams are FC Baník Ostrava and FC Vítkovice.FC Baník Ostrava represent the city in the Czech Republic 1. League (Gambrinus Liga).

In ice-hockey Ostrava has one team HC Vítkovice represent the city in the Czech Extraliga.

The city's National Basketball League (NBL) team is the NH Ostrava.

Ostrava supports athletics event. Ostrava-Vítkovicemarker is host of athletics meeting Golden Spike, one of the IAAF Grand Prix category meeting.

International relations

Twin towns — Sister cities

Date   Sister City
1947 Volgogradmarker, Russiamarker
1957 Coventrymarker, United Kingdommarker
1960 Katowicemarker, Polandmarker
1971 Dresdenmarker, Germanymarker
1976 Splitmarker, Croatiamarker
1997 Pireusmarker, Greecemarker
2001 Košicemarker, Slovakiamarker
2001 Miskolcmarker, Hungarymarker
2001 Pittsburgh, Pennsylvaniamarker, USAmarker
2005 Powiat Wodzisławski, Polandmarker
2008 Western, Kazakhstanmarker
2009 Donetskmarker, Ukrainemarker

Ostrava has twelve sister cities.

The date indicates the year in which the city was twinned with Ostrava.

Ostrava is a sister city with these foreign towns and cities in the ordering:



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