Sunday, 9 September 2007


I must have passed through Přerov a hundred times, but I’d always written it off as a grimy rail hub and industrial town. Mostly this is because, like many cities, Přerov shows its ugly side to the rail tracks and in this case it’s the smoke-belching chimneys of the Precheza chemical company. Also a friend once gave me lift there and explained that it was a horrible place because of the chemical industry and that there were high rates of illness and allergy in the area. Until recently I’d only walked far enough into town to get an ice cream (between trains) and have my impressions reinforced by the seedy area around the station.

Then somehow I stumbled across photographs in a couple of different places that painted a different picture. From those, Přerov looked at least worth an afternoon’s visit.

The walk from the station is not especially attractive, but when you pass the big Zubr brewery and draw close to the old town, the streets change to cobblestones, church towers come into view and you feel miles, not metres, away from the factories on the edge of town.

The first prominent building is the baroque church of St Laurence (Sv Vavřinec). Just around the corner is the main square, Masarykovo náměstí, which is nice enough, even despite a couple of modern architectural eyesores and the loss of its cobblestones to smooth pavers.

The real gem of Přerov though is the upper square, Horní náměstí. More like an oval than a square, it is ringed by colourfully painted arcade-fronted townhouses. Also on upper square is the serene white chateau with its circular tower wearing a cone-shaped roof like the medieval hat of a fairytale princess.

The chateau houses the Komenský Museum, which in itself is well worth a visit. The entry is thirty crowns and because I’d expressed an interest in Jan Amos Komenský himself (that’s Comenius, father of modern education to the rest of the world) I also had a personally guided tour and interpretation for the rooms dealing with the story of the great man. He actually taught in the chateau for a period of time and a typical classroom from the era has been recreated, along with classrooms from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the First Republic and the Communist years, complete with the attendant portraits of Franz-Joseph, Masaryk and Comrade Gottwald. You’re able to move around the rooms, sit at the desks and read the graffiti, and study the teaching aids of the different periods. There’s no shortage of communist exhortation to continue working towards the socialist paradise and to be ever vigilant for traitors of that dream.

The other things that caught my eye in the museum were a collection of folk costumes including those from special occasions like Masopust and an exhibition of curiosities. This is only a temporary exhibition until the 23rd of September, but if you can make it by then, there are interesting things like a gas mask for a horse, a porcelain cup with a built in moustache tray and a 10-billion crown banknote from the 1930's.

I also had a couple of good coffees in town and a decent meal at the brewery pub. I didn’t try them, but the brewery pub apparently serves a couple of special unpasteurized Zubr brews that are hard to find elsewhere.

So next time you’re stuck waiting for a train in Přerov, you know there’s no need to pass the time just sitting around the train station.

1 comment:

Ian Transue said...

Actually, that is intriguing info! I have sat at that train station numerous times without the desire EVER to go into the centre. Guess there are some nuggets of gold if you only scratch the surface.