Myths and Legends

Many places have their foundation story. Olomouc has since at least the 16th century been talked about as being founded by Caesar. One of the first mentions about the possible founding of Olomouc can be found in the work by Renaissance Polish heraldist Bartoloměj Paprocký of Hloholy – Mirror of the Margraviate of Moravia (fourth book).

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Historical forgeries
A fictional story of a legionnaire

Olomouc founding legend

In the old days, there were vast primeval forests spreading from mountain ranges to valleys and lowlands with streams and rivers flowing through in the territory of the later Moravian country. There were a large number of wildlife in the forests, with rivers and pools being full of fish and crabs. The landscape was sparsely populated, with no towns or villages, just small settlements of the then inhabitants who kept moving from one place to another after some time. Settlements were usually founded in the basin of rivers and in protected areas, enabling people to enjoy at least some protection against natural hazards.

Germans and perhaps even Celts were living in that territory when the Roman Empire was booming. The boundary with the Roman Empire was at that time formed by the Danube river in the south where Romans built their fortifications. Those boundaries to the north and east were penetrated mainly by Roman merchants, exporting jewels, salt, spices, weapons, amber beads, utensils, glass and other products to those areas while importing especially furs, leather, grain, mead, cattle and other raw materials and goods back to their home country. Trading between the south and north of Europe was quite intensive and merchants especially from southern countries were interested in buying. The sale of finished products and purchase of raw materials were definitely worth the struggle experienced during the long trips. Travelling and trading was not an easy or safe thing at the time. Ordinary horse-drawn wagons did not offer any comfort to the merchants. Moreover, roads were in a very poor condition, if partially treated paths can even be called roads. Travelling was also very dangerous as there were many robbers around roads attacking the merchants to rob them of their transported freight. Therefore, merchants were travelling in caravans and kept armed escort with them.

Settlements, guarding fords across rivers and providing merchants with an opportunity to have a rest on their exhausting trip were gradually formed by roads, rivers and on crossroads. These settlements were known to merchants and most of them had their names. One of the roads, leading from south to north, also led near a bare rocky ridge comprising three elevations projecting several metres above the surface of the surrounding landscape. The elevations were just a short walk from a shallow ford across the Morava river, with the Bystřice river flowing to Morava nearby. The surroundings of the rocky ridge were swampy, interwoven with many branches of the Morava river, from which water spread far and wide during floods. The ford could only be accessed via a path leading between rocky elevations. And it is where people were settling as early as in the younger Stone Age and continuously up to these days since then.

Gaius Julius Caesar (100 - 44 př.n.l.)A group of Roman soldiers who were riding on their horses through the fertile lowland and sparse forests from the Danube to that place got to this area sometimes in 57 BC. The group was led by a man of a decent appearance, wearing beautiful clothes, covered by richly wrought armour. He was a famous Roman statesman and general called Gaius Julius Caesar who wanted to get to know countries north of the Danube. It was Caesar's first time there, although Roman troops had already visited this area before. When riders were approaching a rocky cliff, they could hear shouts and noise from a distance. Therefore, Caesar sent his scouts ahead to find out what was going on. However, they immediately returned and informed the general there was a small settlement under the rock where markets were being organised, so there was no danger for them. So Caesar ordered to go to the top elevation point that was sloped steeply from all sides to the surrounding lowland. He was offered a beautiful view over the entire lowland, lined with hills in the north. The landscape was dominated by flood-plain forests with small pieces of grubbed and cultivated soil with modest huts. He could see that almost the entire elevation was flowed by river branches and that after building a fortification, the elevation would become unconquerable. He ordered to pitch a camp, feed and water the horses and build trenches and walls on the rock, reinforced by a spiky palisade. The military-style elevation was called according to a rare visitor, Julimons - Julimontium, which later developed into the name "Olomouc". The military station of Romans remained there until the fall of the Roman Empire, with local inhabitants using the finished fortification from time to time after their leaving.