Man has inhabited the Brno basin since prehistoric times. The oldest document of human settlement in the territory of Brno is a 700,000 year old worked stone found at Červený kopec. Stránská skála is another important site with traces of Palaeolithic settlement but the whole territory of the city is rich in archaeological findings. Around the year 1000, a settlement was established at the ford over the Svratka river, today’s Staré Brno neighborhood (Old Brno), and gave the town its name. The oldest documents of Slavic settlement date from the 5th to the 7th century.
In the 8th and 9th century, the fortified settlement Staré Zámky near Líšeň in the Brno area was the centre of the Great Moravian Empire. Foreign colonists were arriving there from the 13th century: Germans, Flanders and Walloons. The lesser and higher privileges which were conferred to the town by king Wenceslas I in 1243 became the legal framework for the town’s development. The town was surrounded by a wall with five gates (Měnínská, Židovská, Starobrněnská, Veselá and Běhounská). The Špilberk castle was reconstructed in the gothic style at the end of the 13th century. In the 14th century the town experienced a boom becoming the seat of Moravian margraves and Moravian councils which met alternately in Brno and Olomouc. Thanks to the privilege to hold annual markets international trade was flourishing. During the Hussite wars, the town preserved its loyalty to king Sigmund and the Hussites unsuccessfully besieged it twice, in 1428 and in 1430.
In 1643 and namely in 1645 Brno was the only town in Moravia to resist the long siege by the Swedish army enabling the Austrian Empire to form a new army and stop the Swedish pressure. Military commander Radouit de Souches and Jesuit rector P. Martin Středa made their mark during the defence of the town. During the Thirty Years’ War Brno became the only capital of Moravia and in 1641 the Moravian Land Register was permanently seated in Brno. After this war the town became an impregnable baroque fortress. In 1742 the Prussians tried to conquer it, without success. Industry and trade began to flourish in the 18th century and the development continued in the following century. The textile and mechanical engineering industries were concentrated in the town and in 1839 the first train arrived in Brno. Suburbs began to grow along with the development of industry and the city lost its fortress character. The Špilberk castle became a famous prison. The city walls were gradually torn down and, following the example of Vienna, replaced by buildings and green belts. At the turn of the 19th century the disputes between the German and Czech inhabitants culminated. The German prevalence in city government ended in 1919.
During the First Republic, Brno was the capital city of Moravia-Silesia. It was the centre of industry and trade but also of education and culture. Among its well-known personages were Leoš Janáček, Viktor Kaplan, Jiří Mahen and Bohuslav Fuchs. World War II inflicted much destruction upon the city. On the night of 14 March 1939 the Brno Nazis instigated a coup d'état during which they occupied important buildings in the city before the arrival of the German occupation army. On 17 November 1939 Brno universities were attacked by the Nazis and students were taken to concentration camps. The following year Kounitz student dormitories became a prison where executions took place and people were transported from there to extermination camps. In 1944 Brno became the target of Anglo-American air raids on several occasions. On 26 April 1945 Brno was liberated by the Red Army. At the end of May, the German inhabitants were expelled from the city and put on the so-called Brno Death March which took about 20 thousand Moravian Germans to Austria. The following period of communist government brought about economic and political stagnation.
In 1990 Brno became the seat of important national institutions and today we will find there the Supreme Administrative Court, Supreme Court, Constitutional Court of the Czech Republic and the Supreme Prosecutor’s Office. Brno is also a city with many universities and colleges. At present there are five public universities: Masaryk University, Brno University of Technology, Mendel University in Brno, Janacek’s Academy of Performing Arts, University of Veterinary and Pharmaceutical Sciences, and Brno University of Defence. There are also several private colleges. Brno maintains a regular and systematic cooperation with ten cities across Europe: Leipzig, Poznan, Kaunas, Voronezh, Stuttgart, Vienna, Utrecht, Rennes, St. Pölten, and Leeds. In the USA the twinning city is Dallas. The goal of international cooperation is to help in improving the quality of live of the city’s residents. The city draws experience and information from various places around the world through projects, study visits and cultural exchanges.