Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Zlín, Czech Republic

This past weekend Rob and I went to visit his parents in Malenovice, which is near Zlín. It is 80 km (50 miles) from Brno, in southeastern Moravia, and takes over 1.5 hours to get there by train. With 85,000 people it is the 12th largest city in the ČR.

Zlín is the greenest city in the country with lots of parks and it is very clean.
I only knew it as the city where Ivana Trump was born. But the city is best known as the home of the Baťa shoe company.
In 1894, Tomáš, Antonín and Anna Baťa, two brothers and their sister, changed the city when they opened a shoemaking firm.
During WWI, the factories were supplying millions of shoes for the Austro-Hungarian army. During the post-war recession, Tomáš Baťa cut the price of his shoes by 50% and became the shoe king of Czechoslovakia. Dozens of modern buildings and facilities were built from after WWI until when the Nazis invaded before WWII. During the war the Germans used the factories for war supplies. Most of Zlín's factories were destroyed by U.S. air raids in 1944 and the city was liberated by Soviet and Romanian soldiers on May 2, 1945.
Baťa's factories in Zlín and in other parts of Czechoslovakia were nationalized in October 1945 so the company headquarters were moved to Canada. In 1949, the communists changed the name of the city to Gottwaldov in honor of president Klement Gottwald, who took power during the 1948 coup. The former Baťa plants were changed to the Svit national enterprise.
After the communist regime fell in November 1989 people wanted the name of the city changed. So on 1 January 1990, Gottwaldov officially became Zlín again.
Zlín's most famous building is the skyscraper which used to be the Baťa administration building. All of the factory buildings were numbered and this was No. 21. It was one of the first high-rise buildings in Europe and when it was built it was awarded the title "Building of the Century". Today, the top of the building is open to the public, free of charge, which is a nice way to get a view of the city.

1 comment:

  1. OK, I'm officially jealous. I've been dying to see Zlin. There was an exhibit in Prague last year on the architecture and story of the Bata buildings - I had to leave Prague before I was able to see it.

    That was news to me that Ivana was born there. Maybe that Bata entrepreneurial ability was in the "air." She sure got some of it!