While Bohemia is the traditional home of a beer-favoring populace and the seat of Czech industrial muscle, the less-visited kingdom of Moravia to the south and east has spawned a people more attuned to the farmland and the potent wines it creates. For 1,000 years Moravians have watched as the wealth of their Czech brethren has been put on display in numerous palaces and factories, but Moravians have plenty of their own accomplishments to be proud of.
The provincial capital of Brno is the home of modern genetics, the place where a curious monk named Gregor Mendel discovered the building blocks of life in his monastic garden 150 years ago. It is also the birthplace of one of the most famous novelists of the latter half of the 20th century, Milan Kundera. The Czechs' own favorite author, Bohumil Hrabal, coincidentally, was born here as well. While Brno is definitely in Prague's shadow when it comes to historic architecture, it is home to some of the country's finest early modern and Functionalist buildings built in the 1920s and '30s. And it is to Brno, the country's second-largest city, where Czech industry comes to show its wares on the national exhibition grounds.
Smaller towns maintain their real Moravian character, with lively song and dance and colorful traditional costumes that seem to have fallen by the wayside in Bohemia. Even the food is a little different: The bland goulash in Prague becomes a little spicier in Moravia, owing to the Hungarian influence that has seeped in from neighboring Slovakia.
Here, winemaking is taken as seriously as it is in most other European grape-growing regions. Many wine bars throughout Moravia serve the village's best straight from the cask, usually alongside traditional smoked meats. While the Bohemians have the sweet taste of Becherovka to sip at meals, Moravians have the sharp taste of slivovice (plum spirits) to cleanse the palate (sometimes for hours on end if it's domácí -- home-brewed).
Having seen its fair share of history, Moravia conjures up a different image than Bohemia: Here, too, castles and picture-perfect town squares exist. But the friendly people and slower lifestyle set Moravia apart.
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