Brno: Not your average city

The best thing about Brno is that it is not your typical city that people talk about. For students or travelers, just a short time ago Brno did not seem like the place to visit. However, Brno, a seemingly insubstantial small student city, is quickly becoming a place of interest for students, travelers and tourists alike.

Local residents, students, and visitors agree that Brno has an undeniable charm that can be seen whether you have lived here your whole life or for just a few short months.

When asked by friends what there is to do in Brno for tourist, a resident of over 20 years, Jakub Macek, would say “not much, but it’s a good place for living.”

The Brno that you see today is not the Brno it always was. If you seen Brno two decades ago it was as some residents called it a grey and boring place. The changes to the city has shaped it into a city filled with cafes, bars, eateries, things to do, newcomers, students, and tourists.

What makes Brno so special is the fact that it has all the makings of a big city, but it does so in a way that does not lose the genuine face of the local community. As Macek who works at Masaryk University explained, his generation was the first to travel abroad to more popular places and they seen how things were done there and they “were able to do it in a better way, in a local way that differs somehow and it worked.”

Long time locals and natives of Brno can attest to the changes and agree that the city is faster, looks better, and has more things to do.

Brno is also known for its great student experience. Rated among the best student cities in the world (according to students) for its attractiveness, easy navigation, nightlife, and friendly student community. It has even been called a “mini Prague,” by exchange students. But many think it is better than Prague because its smaller.

Maximilian Wiebels, med student from Germany who has lived in Brno for five years, says that without students the city is empty, the students from its several universties including Masaryk University and Brno University of technology really bring it to life.

But all the changes are not as positive. Some locals say that the city is more crowded and that the atmosphere is changing.

This may be due to the internationalization of the city. With more tourists and international students, Brno is now a place where you see big chain companies, you hear a lot more languages being spoken, and there is a push for there to be more things offered in English due to it being a student city, a good portion of which are exchange students.

Michal Hancak, a Brno native, says all the changes have benefited him and made the city better in his opinion.

There is some apprehension when it comes to getting to know the Czech culture. Stereotypes make Czech people seem closed and unfriendly to outsiders. Zdenek Janik, a local of Brno who teaches intercultural communication at Masaryk University, says that it is not outsiders who Czechs seem unfriendly towards, they generally do not trust people they do not know.

The best way to overcome this is to get to know them. “Rather than avoiding contact, break the ice and give it a try,” Janik suggests for people getting to know the culture and language.

Despite the beliefs surrounding Czech culture many people have found that once you put in a little effort the locals are very welcoming. American basketball players, Brian Sullivan and Kevin Mays, for the Brno MMCITE team have been living in Brno for the past few months and agreed that the people are friendly.

“I don’t interact with Brno a lot, but when I do I enjoy it,” said Brian Sullivan in an interview on how he liked living in Brno.

Erasmus student Solange Gaffet said that learning the Czech language was one of the best decisions she made because it helped her bridge the gap between her and the locals.

Brno is still able to preserve its tradition and culture even with all the changes. The South Moravian city still holds its traditional folk festivals in surrounding villages and the city center.

The city has lots of history and character. Among visitors, students, and locals favorite things to do are explore the city center, enjoy the parks and surrounding wildlife, and hang out in one of the many cafes and/or pubs around the city.

The changes in Brno were needed and have been wholly positive for the community. The city is more international, people are moving back, there are lots of newcomers. All of this because Brno is a great place to live. It is not too big, and not too small.

As for the future of the city, locals can see it becoming more of a cosmopolitan city but hope that it continues to stay true to its culture and traditions.

Many would agree with Macek’s words, “I don’t like the vision of Brno being turned into Disneyland because then it’s not a place for living.”

It is safe to say that those who have experienced Brno would prefer if a middle ground could be found because while there are some changes that Brno needs to make, they do not need to be to the extent that it becomes just another tourist city.

Video: Best things to do in Brno

Masaryk university