Ostrava is the third largest city in the Czech Republic and the largest urban area at the meeting point of three countries: the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia. The city has a rather special position within the Czech Republic. In previous decades, it used to be known as the steel heart" of the republic: the city was perceived as inhospitable, dirty, and full of rude and hard working people. But this has not always been the case: over the course of Ostrava's history, it has also been a commercial centre and an important transport hub.
Over the centuries, Ostrava gradually grew into a cosmopolitan trading and cultural centre. By the turn of the 20th century and during the so-called First Republic, Ostrava had become a developed conurbation with thriving trade and industry, boasting a diversity of cultural institutions serving the area's various nationalities. Since the Second World War it has further strengthened its position as the regional centre.
In recent years, few towns in the Czech Republic have undergone such an enormous transformation as Ostrava, and this has not only affected the living conditions of its people. Work in many industrial plants has been stopped; the last coal was mined on 30 June 1994 and all the city's collieries have now been closed. Thousands of miners and steelworkers have requalified and found work in other branches of industry. Special filters have been installed to limit air pollution. 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 from Slovakia, and this location is proving to be economically advantageous. The facades of many buildings have been restored to their original architectural style, and many people from Ostrava are surprised to see how beautiful the original city centre was. Many hotels and restaurants have undergone renovation, and nowadays Ostrava can boast a wide range of premises for exhibitions, trade fairs, cultural and sports events. The area around Ostrava is very attractive both in the winter and summer holiday periods, and you can enjoy staying in a spa town or participating in sporting activities.
We believe that both the people of Ostrava and visitors enjoy this city full of contrasts. We hope that this small guidebook will be helpful to you in providing a basic introduction to the city. The employees of the Ostrava City Information Centre look forward to meeting you in their office.
Plní funkci základního stupně územní samosprávy a v různé míře je také vykonavatelem státní správy.