Day four was moving day – we had to pack away and leave our lovely apartment as our host had someone booked in for our last night. We didn’t have far to go – a brisk five minute walk in torrential rain took us through graffitied side streets, past a dilapidated strip club and a few other dodgy looking buildings before we reached our destination – VV Hotel. Luckily, it was much nicer inside than expected considering its surroundings. Our room wasn’t ready so we dumped our bags and headed straight out to make the most of the dreary morning.
After a quick coffee stop at our now regular hangout in Zelny Trh, we crossed over the road into Building 21, home to an underground labyrinth. After a much needed renovation a few years back, it has been open to the public since 2011. This large maze of underground tunnels and rooms is home to a number of mysterious nooks and crannies and medieval cellars, complete with historical and mock artifacts. The tunnels run underneath Brno’s oldest square and each guided tour takes you into food cellars, past oak barrels used for wine, through the evolution of lighting, past an alchemist laboratory and more… finishing in a traditional Moravian ‘pub’.
You also learn about how prisoners were kept and tortured – one form of punishment involved wearing a metal mask for a period of time. You can actually try a mask on if you dare! You have to go underground with a guide (tours run every hour) and there are audio devices if you don’t speak Czech. Tickets were 80 Koruna for students and 160 for adults.
The Labyrinth was not only really interesting but also a great way to pass the time and learn more about Brno’s history, whilst conveniently avoiding crap weather! It was almost time for lunch when we emerged 45 minutes later so we decided to head in the direction of Špilberk Castle with the hope that the rain would stop after lunch. We made a quick stop at the Junk Food Cafe on the way to warm up with their daily menu. Two courses – soup followed by curry / goulash set us back a whopping £2.50/ €3.20 per person! It’s conveniently situated just a three minute walk from one of the entry points into the castle but it’s then a good ten minute walk up a very steep hill to reach the top!
Once you see the castle, you’ll need to navigate your way around until you find the little kiosk selling tickets. General entry, including admission to the Brno City Museum, is 150 Koruna for adults or 90 for students. You can pay more to add different sections on, such as additional exhibitions or climbing the viewing deck. As it was still drizzling, we went for the standard ticket including museum entry.
The castle was established around the mid-13th century, built on a steep, rocky hill (290 m), peering down on to the town’s historical centre. It’s pretty stunning to see up close – its just so enormous! Its mind blowing to think about how it was first built. The views were great but I’m sure they are ten times better in the sunshine.
Walking around the museum was a somewhat strange experience. There is just SO MUCH to see!! Due to the museum being so large, there are porters in each area to stamp your ticket (so hang on to it) and guide you to the next room. We only saw three other visitors in the 90 minutes we were wandering round, so it really felt like a cross between a personal tour and being followed in case we were feeling itchy fingered! With the overwhelming amount to see and read, we were pretty done by about half way around. However, due to having porters guiding us along (with minimal English), we ended up doing the whole loop of the three floors. There’s a modern art gallery inside which was cool – I like learning about a city’s history but my short attention span doesn’t fit well with lengthy museum trips!
It was quite a treacherous walk back down to modern life – the cobbled stones and heavy rain combo is never a particularly good one. Especially when you are walking at a 90 degree angle! Luckily we made it down in one piece and both agreed our shaky legs had had enough for one day. We stopped at Charakter bakery for a coffee and slice of raspberry cheesecake before swinging by Rebio to grab a veggie takeaway box for dinner.
The evening was spent relaxing in our small but cosy room at the VV hotel. Just big enough to hold two single beds and an armchair, the decor is all very clean and modern. The bathroom came complete with heat lamps which were very much welcomed after our chilly day in the rain!
The next day we only had a couple of hours before having to board our plane back to London. We went back to the Cabbage Market and stopped off at Forky’s once more before hopping in a taxi to the airport. It was a wonderful few days visiting the Czech Republic for the first time and exploring somewhere new 🙂
> Top things to do in Brno
> Vegan options in Brno