05. Palacký University Olomouc
Palacký University Olomouc is the oldest university in Moravia and the second-oldest in the Czech Republic. It was established in 1573 as a public university led by the Jesuit order in Olomouc, which was at that time the capital of Moravia and the seat of the episcopacy. At first it taught only theology, but soon the fields of philosophy, law and medicine were added.
After the Bohemian King Joseph II’s reforms in the 1770s the university became increasingly state-directed, while today it is a public university. During the Revolution of 1848 university students and professors played a very active role on the side of democratisation. The conservative king Francis Joseph I closed most of its faculties during the 1850s, but they were reopened by an act of the Interim National Assembly passed on 21 February 1946. This act also extended the name from University of Olomouc to Palacký University Olomouc, naming it for František Palacký, a 19th-century Moravian historian and politician.
Today the university is an example of an old university in a small town, like Yale University in New Haven and the University of Tübingen in Tübingen. The town of Olomouc has 100,000 inhabitants (and as many again in its suburbs), and some 25,000 university students (including those at Moravian College Olomouc), which is the highest density of university students in Central Europe. The town itself is very old and picturesque and it is surrounded by sports facilities and nature.
Many distinguished figures have taught, worked and studied here including Albrecht von Wallenstein and Gregor Mendel.