Brünn

Brünn (Czech Brno), the capital of the Austrian margraviate and crownland of Moravia, 89 miles north of Vienna by rail. 70% of the population are Germans and 30% are Czechs. On one of the hills, known as the Spielberg (945 feet), stands a castle which has long been used as a prison, famous for its connection with Silvio Pellico, who was confined within its walls from 1822 to 1830. The fortifications of the old town have now been entirely removed, giving place to handsome gardens and well-built streets, which put it in communication with its adjoining suburbs. The old town, although comparatively small, with narrow and crooked but well-paved streets, contains the most important buildings in the city. The Rathaus, which dates from 1511, has a fine Gothic portal, and contains several interesting antiquities. The ecclesiastical buildings comprise the cathedral of Saint Peter, situated on the lower hill; the fine Gothic church of Saint Jacob, built in the 5th century, with its iron tower added in 1845, and a remarkable collection of early prints; the church of the Augustinian friars, dating from the 14th century; and that of the Minorites, with its frescoes, its holy stair and its Loretto-house. Amongst the new buildings are the hail of the provincial diet, opened in 1881; a handsome new synagogue; the national museum of Moravia and Silesia and several high educational establishments, including a technical academy and a theological seminary, which are the remnants of the former university of Brünn. It is the seat of a Roman Catholic bishop and of a Protestant consistory. Brünn, which is sometimes styled the Austrian Manchester, is one of the most industrial towns of Austria and the chief seat of the cloth industry in the whole empire. Other important branches of industry are: the manufacture of various woollen, cotton and silk goods, leather, the machinery required in the textile factories, brewing, distilling and milling, and the production of sugar, oil, gloves and hardware. It is also an important railway junction and carries on a very active trade. Brünn probably dates from the 9th century. In the 11th century it was bestowed by Duke Wratislas II on his son Otto. A place of great strength, it held out successfully against sieges in 1428 by the Hussites, in 1467 by King George of Bohemia, in 1645 by the Swedish general Torstenson, and in 1742 by the Prussians. In 1805 it was the headquarters of Napoleon before the battle of Austerlitz.

- Encyclopedia Brittanica, 1911

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