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Ostrava

From Academic Kids

Statistics
Area:214 km²
Population: 315,000 (2004)
Map
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Czech_city_Ostrava.png
Map of the Czech Republic highlighting Ostrava

Ostrava Template:Audio (German: Ostrau, Polish: Ostrawa) is the third largest city in the Czech Republic and the administrative center of the Moravian-Silesian Region. It is located at the junction of the Ostravice and Oder rivers. Its history and growth were largely affected by exploitation and further usage 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 Czechoslovakia. Many of the heavy industry companies are being closed down or transformed nowadays.

Contents

History of Ostrava

Ostrava - Coat of arms

Ostrava has been an important crossroads of prehistoric trading routes, namely the Amber Road. Archaeological finds have proved that the area around Ostrava has been permanently inhabited 25,000 years ago. The town itself was founded in 1267. Until 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 have been raised in and around the city and the first steel works have been established. The 20th century saw further industrial expansion of the city accompanied by an increase of population and the quality of civic services and culture. However, during World War II, Ostrava - as an important source of steel for the army industry - has suffered several massive bombing campaigns bringing large damage to the city.

Since the Velvet revolution in 1989 the city is going through big 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 has closed down in 1998, both improving the environment dramatically.

Geography and climate

Ostrava is located in the north-eastern tip of Czech Republic, very close to the Polish (15km) and Slovak (55km) borders. It spreads over the northern part of the natural north-south valley called the Moravian gate (Moravská brána) with the average elevation of around 210m above the sea level.

The local climate is temperate with warm summers and cold, cloudy, humid winters. Due to the easterly position of the city the continental climate influences are slightly more prominent compared to the rest of the country. The yearly average of temperature is 8.6°C (January: -2.4°, July: 17.8°), the yearly rainfall is around 600mm.

People and demographics

As of 2003, the officially estimated population of Ostrava is 315,442 inhabitants, who are living in a total of 23 districts formed by joining together 34 original small towns and villages. Ostrava covers 212 km² of area. The density of population is 1505 people per km².

Historically, among the most influencing ethnic groups besides Czechoslovakians in Ostrava were Polish people, Germans and Jews. However, during and after the WWII years the situation changed completely, as most Ostravian Jews have been killed or transported to concentration camps (on October 17th, 1939 the first transport of Jews to a lager in Nisko, General Government was held in Ostrava - first of its kind in Europe). After the WWII, Germans have been expelled from Ostrava according to the Benes decrees. Thus, the population of the city, has become a mixture of Czechs, Slovaks and Poles.

People around Ostrava are known to speak a specific "dialect" (though probably not linguistically qualified) which can be noticed as shortening all vowels and putting stress on the last but one syllable, that makes the dialect similar to Polish. Other than that Ostravians are often considered the purest Czech speakers.

Due to the recent and ongoing massive restructuring of the heavy industry in the area, the unemployment went well above the country average - 18.4% (as of 2004), equalling nearly 30,000 people.

Industry and coal mines

Some of the largest Czech industrial concerns lie in the city of Ostrava. The Vítkovice ironworks, located in the suburb of the same name near the city center, concentrates on metallurgy and machine engineering. It was established in 1828 and nowadays, after nearly two hundred years of existence, it is undergoing a major transformation. The oldest part of the concern, called "Dolní oblast" (the "Bottom area"), was closed down and there is an ongoing debate whether this area should be preserved and opened up as an industrial open-air museum or torn down. Nová huť (the "New ironworks", established in 1951) is another key metallurgical combine in Ostrava.

Universities

Tourist attractions

While Ostrava is usually not in the top ten list of tourist attractions of the Czech Republic, there is a number of interesting places to see and things to do here. 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 the 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.

Another attraction, which is becoming more and more popular mainly among young people, is the Stodolni street (Stodolní ulice). It is actually a bunch of streets just next to the center, full of bars, pubs and clubs, bringing night-life to the city and thousands of visitors during summer weekends. There are currently around 60 places to have a drink or dance on this street, each of its own style and atmosphere. There are a few bigger actions at this street 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 tower provides visitors a panoramic view of the city and surroundings from about 85 meters of height. During clear sky conditions the Beskydy and Jeseniky mountain ranges are visible.

Transportation

Ostrava-Mosnov International Airport is about 30 minutes away from Ostrava by bus. Most visitors, though, arrive to the city by train from Prague, which takes about 4½ hours, Brno (2½ hours), Olomouc (1½ hours). It is also relatively close from Vienna, Bratislava and Warsaw. Despite several attempts to begin building of the D47 highway, Ostrava still lacks a modern highway and visitors coming by car have to choose regional roads instead.

Getting around the city itself is easy using the public transportation. Ostrava is one of the few Czech cities to have all the three types of public transportation common to Czech republic: buses, trams, as well as trolleybuses.

Other information

Ostrava is a twin town to these foreign towns and cities (the year the cooperation started is given in the parentheses and determines the ordering):

External links

bg:Острава cs:Ostrava da:Ostrava de:Ostrava eo:Ostrava fr:Ostrava pl:Ostrawa

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