The Moravian-Silesian Region was once nicknamed the “Steel Heart of the Country” during the Communist period because of its steel works. The fall of Communism, however, has led to the industry’s decline, resulting in high unemployment rates. Today, much of the region’s economy is centred on trade with neighbouring countries Poland and Slovakia and the tourist industry.
An area of impressive natural beauty, the region has five nature parks and three designated Protected Landscape Areas: the Jeseniky Mountains in the west, the Moravská brána Valley, and the Beskydy Mountains with their highest peak, Lysá Hora (Bald Mountain). Castles and chateaus dot the region, the most famous being Hradec nad Moravicí, Raduň, Kravaře, and Fulnek. There are also castle ruins in Hukvaldy, and the famous castle ruins of Sovince at the foot of the Jeseniky Mountains.
Hukvaldy also holds an annual music festival in commemoration of native son, composer Leoš Janáček.
Ostrava is the capital city of the Moravian-Silesian Region and the third largest city in the Czech Republic. It was a largely industrial city concentrated on the coal mining industry during the Communist Regime. Following the 1989 Velvet Revolution, however, coal mining and ironworks industries have shut down.
Faced with massive unemployment and less than desirable living conditions, Ostrava underwent an ambitious facelift. Thousands of workers were given jobs in less hazardous industries. Banking and service industries are also on the rise. Air filters have been installed to alleviate air pollution.
The demolition of an old coking plant and nearby industrial areas led to the construction of the Karolina, an extension of the Ostrava City Centre. A Dutch firm will be constructing apartments, offices and shops, as well as a new church, high-rise building, and a large park along the Ostravice River.
The few sites of interest in the city include the Gothic Silesian Ostrava Castle, which has been rebuilt into a Renaissance chateau, and the new City Hall viewing tower, which provides panoramic views of Ostrava and the Jeseniky Mountains.