Science Fortress, Natural Science Faculty, Palacky University, Olomouc, Czech Republic
Olomouc – University town
From Jesuit College to University
Palacký University Olomouc is the second oldest university in the Czech Republic. Its tradition reaches back to medieval times, namely the year 1573 when the former Jesuit College gained privileges equal to those of other European universities, granted by Maximilian II, Holy Roman Emperor. The university consisted of two faculties at the dawn of its history, providing education in Liberal Arts and Theology. University education itself started three years after the foundation of the university, in 1576, when the Englishman George Warr started to lecture on Philosophy. That same year, the first students were officially enrolled in the university’s registry. The university gained recognition outside the Czech Lands, and its sphere of influence extended from Moravia and Silesia, over to Poland, Hungary, and the Austrian lands, to Germany, Scandinavia, and Eastern Europe. However, during the Bohemian Estates Revolt (1618–1620) the Jesuit Order was driven out of Moravia and the university temporarily ceased operations. It was again restored in 1621 after the revolt was crushed.
Olomouc – town with church and secular history
The Romanesque Bishop's Palace, formerly better known as the Přemyslid Palace, is located on the Wenceslas Hill. Its name is associated with Moravian Appanage Princes of the Přemyslid dynasty who had their castle here in the 11th century already. The preserved parts of the palace buildings, however, come from the later era of the Bishop Jindřich Zdík. It was him who built next to the Cathedral Basilica a Bishop’s Palace in the first half of the 12th century. The palace belonged, as per the preserved stonework, to the very top of European Romanesque residential architecture.
Olomouc, once a capital of Moravia, was already fulfilling the important function of a fortified center of Moravia in the Middle Ages. Only fragments of the medieval fortifications of the former royal city of Olomouc have been preserved to the present day. In 1655 Olomouc was declared a fortress town. A baroque fortress was gradually raised and its construction was completed by the so-called Theresian fortifications erected between the years 1742-1756. Olomouc became one of the largest and most sophisticated star forts not only in Bohemia but also throughout the Habsburg monarchy. But even the construction of a baroque fort did not put an end to the fortification story of the city. By the middle of the 19th-century bastion walls of the town center were completed by a crown of advanced forts which moved the main defense line further into the foreland. However, because the walls hindered further development of the city, the fortification function of the city was abandoned by the end of the 19th century.