In the United States, there is a popular hiking trail up Mount Si about 45 minutes east from Seattle. After about a mile of switchbacks, the trail flattens out. There, a few steps off of the main trail, is a bench.
There is no view from the bench. It is shaded year around by the tall Evergreen trees. Yet, it is peaceful.
If you look closely you can see that the bench is a memorial to a man named Doug Hansen. Hansen was a postman who delivered mail in order to earn money (and get in shape) for his passion: mountain climbing. In 1995, he got near the top of Mount Everest. In 1996, he finally reached the top but he died along with 11 other climbers when a fast-moving storm enveloped the mountain.
Hansen took many anguished steps while mountain climbing; I like his bench on Mount Si because it represents how he can finally rest.
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Most benches are not symbolic or dedicated to anything. They are purely pragmatic. Yet, there is a lot to love about a good bench.
Fortunately, Brno has a lot of good benches.
Tourists can relax after long days of walking. Friends use them to wait for each other. Mothers use them to change diapers. Teenagers use them to look cool. I use them to read a book while I kill time before an appointment.
It is summer time and people are out and about, so it’s time for a silly an unimportant conversation: rank the best places for benches in Brno.
My criteria for a good bench are as follows: Cleanliness, View, Calm, and Location. Not all categories are required at all times.
6th place: Náměstí Svobody
The best benches for people-watching are in the centre of the city. There are always a lot of characters milling around or moving across the large square. You are almost guaranteed to hear English and many other languages. Depending on where you sit, you can also listen to people trying to figure out how to read the time on the Orloj. Most of the time there will be a talented busker nearby to provide a musical background.
Unfortunately, there are not a lot of available spaces and you usually get approached by panhandlers.
5th place: Janáčkovo divadlo
Speaking of popular places, the area in front of Janackovo divadlo is often overflowing with people because of the still-relatively-new and technologically cool fountain. The open area can get quite hot in the summer so it is nice to have the sound of water splashing. There aren’t traditional benches, so comfort is lacking.
But: the fountain is really cool and the splashing sounds are soothing.
4th place: Parks
A park is not a park without many benches. Luzanky and Kravi Hora are parks that each have their unique atmosphere, and many spots to relax with a book, although a picnic blanket may be the better choice. There is always a steady flow of people, but both parks are relatively quiet, except on busy beautiful summer days.
Kravi Hora is a gem that is pretty much used only by people who live in that area, especially this year because of construction on the main access road.
3rd place: Moravské náměstí
The benches that I have personally used the most before appointments are on Moravské náměstí. I like the four virtue statues. Jošt is impressive but I especially appreciate the statue of Justice, where the large man is lifting a cube, particularly when the water is turned on.
2nd place: Biskupské náměstí
I have often needed a place to kill time near the main train station. Denisovy Sad is nearby, but it is not very comfortable because it often has broken bottles and trash, homeless people are common and it is quite loud because of the trains and the trams down below.
Instead, the best place near the train station is just a bit farther: walk up Masarykova, turn left after McDonald’s, walk past Kapucínský crypt and climb the stairs up to the small courtyard named Biskupsky dvur. There are two benches that enable you to put your back to the hustle and bustle of Brno. Very few people go there, so it is the perfect place to read.
1st place: Špilberk Castle
Quick Question: When is the last time you were in the park around Spilberk Castle?
Many people seem to forget about the castle that is at center of our city. It is surrounded by a really peaceful landscape that is immaculately maintained. It is also peppered with excellent benches with all sorts of views and atmospheres. Tough it out on the entrance hills and you will be rewarded with a nice place to sit and relax.
Some may like the benches just underneath the castle where you can see the city center.
For me, I like settling onto one of the benches along the long and flat pathway to the west of the castle. Those are the best benches in Brno.
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Of course, sometimes the location doesn’t matter. Sometimes the best bench is when the girl is at preschool and the boy is asleep in his baby carriage and you finally have a moment of peace and quiet.
Do you agree with my order? Did I miss any great public places to sit and relax? What is your favorite bench in Brno? Please share in the comments below. Include your photos, too.