History of Ostrava

Ostrava was an important crossroads of prehistoric trading routes, namely the Amber Road. Archaeological finds have proved that the area around Ostrava has been permanently inhabited for 25,000 years. Circa 23,000 BC, the Venus of Petrkovice (Petřkovická venuse in Czech) from Petřkovice in Ostrava, Czech Republic, was made. It is now in Archeological Institute, Brno. In the 13th century, the Ostravice river marked the border between the Silesian duchy of Opole and the March of Moravia under Bohemian suzerainty. Two settlements arose on both sides of the river: Slezska Ostrava (Silesian Ostrava) was first mentioned in 1229, Moravska Ostrava (Moravian Ostrava) in 1267, it received town privileges in 1279. The Piast dukes of Opole in 1297 built a fortress on their side of the river. Both parts were largely settled by Germans in the course of the Ostsiedlung.

Until the late 18th century, Moravska Ostrava was a small provincial town with a population around one thousand inhabitants engaged in handicraft. In 1763, large deposits of black coal were discovered, leading to an industrial boom and a flood of new immigrants in the following centuries. During the 19th century, several mine towers were raised in and around the city and the first steel works were established at Vítkovice, acquired by Salomon Mayer von Rothschild in 1843. Industrial growth was made possible by the completion of Kaiser-Ferdinands-Nordbahn from Vienna in 1847. The 20th century saw further industrial expansion of the city accompanied by an increase in population and the quality of civic services and culture. However, during World War II, Ostrava – as an important source of steel for the arms industry – suffered several massive bombing campaigns that caused extensive damage to the city.

Since the Velvet revolution in 1989 the city has been going through major changes. A thorough restructuring of industry is taking place – coal mining in the area of the city was stopped in 1994