Refurbished network of cellars gives tourism industry in Brno a boost

A labyrinth of underground cellars under one of the oldest and best preserved squares in Brno has been turned into a popular tourist attraction following completion of an EU-funded refurbishment project.

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The labyrinth of cellars has been turned into a popular tourist attraction The labyrinth of cellars has been turned into a popular tourist attraction

Underneath the vegetable market in the historic centre of Brno lies a system of underground corridors and cellars which were used in previous centuries for storing food, brewing beer and maturing wine. During times of war the cellars, some of which date back to the Middle Ages, were also used as refuges. Although the cellars were originally built to serve individual houses, they were also used to store fresh produce for the market.

The cellars were not originally connected and many of them were only discovered recently, following archaeological research. A major refurbishment project of these cellars which got underway in 2009 means that visitors to Brno can now obtain a fascinating insight into the day-to-day life of the city’s residents in centuries gone by. The refurbishment scheme made the structures safe and, for the first time, connected the separate cellars into a single whole. The complexity of the resulting system of corridors and cellars has led to the new visitor attraction being dubbed the ‘vegetable market labyrinth’.

Opportunity to learn about everyday life in bygone centuries

Guides in historic costumes show tourists around the labyrinth and inform them about how food was kept when the cellars served as enormous refrigerators, how the various foodstuffs were kept in various receptacles, and how oak barrels were used to store and mature wine. Visitors also have the opportunity to learn about period lighting, from the first torches, to tallow and paraffin candles to petroleum lamps. In addition, various items of everyday life found during the archaeological investigations are exhibited.

The sightseeing tour also includes a visit to a recreated alchemist laboratory, which illustrates the famous doctors, pharmacists and physicists who lived and worked in Brno and made it famous as a medical centre across Europe.

The local wine tradition is evidenced by an old wine cellar and a historic inn where visitors can sample various Moravian wines. The crueller aspects of life in bygone times are demonstrated with a replica of the town pillory, a madman’s cage and various items of torture equipment. Meanwhile, the variety of punishments meted out to dishonest craftsmen and merchants are also demonstrated.

Project manager Radek Řeřicha said that, in the first year following the opening of the new tourist attraction in 2011, around 43 000 people had visited the labyrinth of cellars. Twelve new full-time jobs have been created as a result of the investment.

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