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 around 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), a 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, a 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.