Brno, the Czech Republic‘s second largest city and main city in Moravia, has a population of nearly 370,000. Within a two hundred-kilometre radius are other important European capitals: Prague, Vienna and Bratislava. The city hosts regular cultural events and festivals, such as "Brno - City in the Centre of Europe" and the "Ignis Brunensis" fireworks competition) as well as some notable sporting events such as the Brno Grand Prix of road motorcycles. Brno is also a city of modern shopping and entertainment centres.
For over seven centuries, Špilberk Castle has dominated the skyline of Brno, a reminder of the safety and protection it provided. However, there have been times in the history of Brno when the fortress inspired fear and represented oppression for the city's residents. Over the course of the centuries, the importance of Špilberk and the part it has played have changed considerably. From a major royal castle and the seat of the Moravian margraves, it gradually turned into a huge baroque fortress, the most fortified prison in the Austro-Hungarian empire (the infamous "dungeon of the nations"), and then a barracks. Today, Špilberk houses the Brno City Museum, and is one of the most significant cultural centres in Brno. It was certified as a national heritage monument in 1962.
The Capuchin Monastery is famous for its catacombs, which hold many of Brno's most famous citizens.
Overlooking the city, the cathedral of St. Peter and Paul was built in the late 11th and early 13th centuries. In 1743, it was rebuilt in a baroque style, only to be re-Gothicized just before World War I. The resulting melding of styles gives the cathedral a unique character.
Villa Tugendhat is the very first monument of modern architecture in the Czech Republic and only the fourth worldwide to have received the prestigious UNESCO designation. The building is named after Fritz Tugendhat, owner of a Brno textile factory, who had this jewel of interwar functionalist architecture built for his family.
Brno also offers destinations outside the city center, such as the city zoo. Motor sports enthusiasts flock to the Automotodrom Brno with the new Masaryk Circuit – the venue for the World Moto Grand Prix.