The industrial suburbs of Brno create a poor initial impression, but the historic center and its immediate surrounds are beautiful and unspoiled. Much of old Brno has been pedestrianized, making it a great pleasure to explore the city of 400,000 on foot. Like Prague, Brno has retained much of its prewar architecture, and sharp Gothic spires poke the sky above wedding-cake historicist confections. The city was also an important center of the functionalist movement, exemplified by Villa Tugendhat, a Mies van der Rohe masterpiece of residential design on the outskirts of the center (reserve tickets six months in advance). Nowadays, numerous university students give Brno a youthful energy, and the city has a surprising wealth of excellent restaurants, cocktail bars and brewpubs.

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