The Faculty of Philosophy and Science, as a part of the Silesian
University, contributes to the character of the statutory town Opava as a
cultural and educational centre of the Czech Silesia. Opava, which
covers 90 sq kilometres and has a population of about 60,000 people,
lies on the Opava River in a fertile valley. It borders on the
projections of the Lower Jeseníky Mountains in the southwest, and the
Poopavská Lowlands stretches east of the town.
The town and its surroundings are an important archaeological
locality. Archaeological research has proved the existence of the Slavic
Castle Site from the 10th –12th century. The first written record about
a settlement dates from 1195, and a town settlement is evidenced by a
document from 1224. At the beginning of the 14th century, the
Principality of Opava, whose foundation was related to the Dynasty of
Přemysl, was established within the Czech Crown.
Educational institutions in Opava are mentioned already in the second
half of the14th century, and it was in 1630 when the Jesuit Hall was
founded. The development of the educational system reflected the
musical, religious and cultural life of the whole region. Schools played
their role in the foundation of the theatre stage in 1808, when the
first building of the theatre was built. It was in Opava where the first
museum in the area of the Czech Republic was founded in 1814.
In 1883 a Czech grammar school was founded thanks to the Matice
Česká. The grammar school played an important role in the dissemination
of culture, and it was the only secondary school in the Austrian part of
Silesia. Opava has been a work and study place of many well-known
personalities of science and culture. It is both the birthplace and
burying ground of the poet Petr Bezruč (1867-1958). J. G. Mendel
(1822-1884), the founder of modern genetics, studied at a local grammar
school. Other natives of Opava were: J. M. Olbrich (1867-1908), an
architect from Vienna and a co-founder of Vienna Art Nouveau, the writer
A. C. Nor (1903-1986) and Joy Adamson (1910-1980), a tireless fighter
for African nature and the author of books about the lioness Elsa.
Today, Opava is a statutory town, where the Silesian University and
several important scientific workplaces are located: the Silesian
Provincial Museum with the Silesian Institute, which used to be part of
the Academy of Sciences, and the Provincial Archives, which is the third
largest archive in the Czech Republic.
Although the town suffered a serious damage at the end of World War
Two, today‘s visitors can admire many cultural sights and beautiful
parks. The town’s surroundings are full of cultural and historical
sights such as castles Hradec nad Moravicí, Kravaře, Raduň, a fortified
castle ruin Vikštejn or Arboretum in Nový Dvůr.