Modrá (means Blue) is a small village near Uherské Hradiště in East Moravia (Czech Republic) with just about 700 inhabitants. Although the village is small, they realized two big projects which attract thousands of both young and old visitors every year.
We came here at the end of April. The weather was still unstable, all the time we were looking for at least a few blue stains on the cloudy sky. But the grass behind the fence was becoming green and fresh leaves started to sprout on the trees. A donkey, grazing juicy dandelion leaves, made the country idyll complete.
We met a group of pupils at the entrance. The children had put their textbooks of history away and came to see with their own eyes how their ancestors once used to live. Because they will remember everything much better if they can touch or test it some other way than memorizing texts from a textbook. The open-air museum shows a fortified Slavic settlement from the time of the Great Moravian Empire (9th century).
About 30 buildings were built according to real archaeological finds in the surrounding area. We admired a watchtower to protect the site from attacks of any enemies.
There were houses of common people but also of rich princes, with wooden beds covered with furs, clay dishes, ovens for baking bread or flat cakes. We peeped also into a blacksmith’s and potter’s workshops.
Storerooms for corn and other food and barns for farm animals were also in the compound. Besides the donkey Figo, hens, goats and sheep were freely running around. Just one sheep did not move at all, it was supporting the roof of one house the whole time looking as if it has swallowed the total wisdom of the world. We were just waiting for at least a small movement to be sure that it was not just an imitation. So please, if you visit that place, look if the sheep still supports the roof.
Near the fence, a cat was sleeping on a pole. Even the quibbling hens with a rooster did not disturb its sweet sleep.
One of the most beautiful buildings in the open-air museum is a hypothetical replica of the St John Baptist church from the beginning of the 9th century. The original church was probably the oldest stone Christian building north of the Danube river. The small church stands on a small hill, we enjoyed the view of green plains and of the basilica of Velehrad.
The hotel Skanzen also belongs to the complex. You can not only sleep or eat here but also visit a distillery, a room for drying of fruits, vegetables or mushrooms. There is also a small shop with all those local products.
Of course, because we are in Moravia, the largest section in the shop is filled with wine! You can also visit the cellars where you can taste different wines from modern self-service automatic dispensers (instructions and information also in English). More information about the hotel: here
The open-air museum Modrá is the largest of its kind in Europe. It is open from April until the end of October. They organize a lot of interesting events during that time. A visit during the rest of the year is possible only by appointment per telephone. All useful information in English: here.
The second project is even more interesting because it is more lively. It is also called accordingly: Živá voda – Living Water! It is a unique exhibition about life in and near water, about animals and plants living in the Morava river.
First, we passed a small “Grandma’s Garden” where mint, lavender and other herbs started to grow. Two pond turtles settled down on a piece of wood in the pond. By the way, you can find such a turtle also in the logo of the exposition.
And do you want to know why the letter Ž is reversed? 130 pupils applied with their proposals of a new logo in a competition. It was won by an 8-year-old girl with dysgraphia and she just drew the letter like that.
And now we are coming to the main attraction – a glass tunnel. We are 3,5 m under the water surface. You may say: nothing extraordinary – there are so many transparent tunnels in many cities where beautiful colourful exotic fish are swimming above your heads and anemones and other sea plants are waving behind the glass. But this tunnel is different. It is an authentic pond with freshwater fishes: carp, crucian carp, pike, beluga, sturgeon, European catfish or tench. Although they are very common fish known from rivers and ponds, here, the view from below is totally different from that we have known before.
The tunnel is 8 m long and 2 m wide. There was a group of senior people in the tunnel when we came in. They tilted their heads back with astonishment. From time to time they could see just a shadow in the greenish darkness. And when fish swam near the glass, all visitors started to take pictures.
It was a pity that it was after the rain. The water was muddier. Anyway, we were able to recognize different fish species. And we could also see a diver! We were told that the mayor of the village always joked that Modrá is probably the only village in the Czech Republic which engages a donkey (in the open-air museum) and also a diver.
Carps are really very big here. The biggest one is Jonas with a weight of more than 20 kg. The carp was smoothly swimming without stopping, its small round eye looking at us – actually from its point of view we were those behind the glass, so at one moment I was not sure anymore who was watching whom. Finally, the carp gracefully waved its tail and again disappeared in the eerie deep.
Did you know that the biggest freshwater fish in the world is beluga? In Modrá, they have also a nice, almost 2 m long specimen. The fish with its four barbels is lovely, isn’t it?
On the second underwater floor, in the depth of 6,5 m, you can just have a look through a window. But the water was dark, no catfish appeared. Never mind, next time maybe!
You can find all the useful information about this interesting exhibition: here Mind the different opening hours in winter and summer!
Some years ago, only swamps were here. Today, you can see a natural swimming pool, picturesque ponds and gorgeous props of the Baroque Basilica of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary and of St Cyril and Methodius in Velehrad here. This is the most important pilgrimage site in the Czech Republic.
If you have time you should visit it. The beautiful decoration inside! And do not forget to see the Golden Rose, which is given by popes to some churches or places (there are only two roses in the Czech Republic). This one was sent to the basilica by Pope John Paul II. in 1985. You can also visit the information center with a cute cafe with homemade desserts.
Where to Eat:
In addition to the hotel Skanzen I would also recommend the restaurant Koníček in the city of Uherské Hradiště. It is a stylish restaurant (also a hotel) in the building where the production of luxurious carriages started in 1872. You can choose the international or local cuisine – try the typical dill and mushroom soup “kulajda” or “svíčková“ – sirloin beef in cream sauce with different kinds of dumplings. And of course, Moravian wines of high quality! The address and more information: here
Where to Stay:
We stayed in Boršice – at the guest house Dvůr pod Starýma horama. I recommend it especially to wine lovers. There are cellars where you can not only drink wine (original Moravian varieties) but you can also get some interesting information about the history of wine-making in this region which reaches to the Middle Ages.
They prepared a wine tasting also for our group in a stylish cellar – a high rotunda with a solid round table. My favourite wine was Hibernal. You can find more information: here – unfortunately in Czech only.
Text: © Copyright Ingrid, Travelpotpourri
Fotos: © Copyright Ingrid, Travelpotpourri
The visit was supported by East Moravia Tourism Central Office.