Brno is the second largest town in the Czech Republic, it is an administration centre of the South Moravian Region and the whole Moravia. Until the year 1945 the whole one quarter of Brno citizens were of German nationality.
A favourable location on the confluence of the River Svitava and the River Svratka in the middle of the Brno Basin tempted for settlement. Already in the 8th century the Slavs came, at the beginning of the 12th century the first colonists appeared, especially from Germany but also from other places, the Jews also appeared. A royal town of Brno reached its biggest development during the 14th century when it became a seat of the Margraves of Moravia. It has its law-today we would say-organizational order. Many churches and monasteries were established here. Let us mention at least two of them: the oldest church in Brno with its foundations from the 12th century, late-Gothic Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul is a national cultural monument. In the 18th century the cathedral was altered in a Baroque style, the altar is pseudo-Gothic. It boasts about two 84 metres high towers. In the years 1904–1905 the church was rebuilt in a neo-Gothic style. The second most famous church is a late-Gothic Church of St. James in Rašín Street which stands on the place of the original parish church of a market settlement of the German and Flanders colonists from the 13th century.
From the wealth of the historical monuments we cannot forget Špilberk with a Baroque fortress which dominate the town. In its eastern wing we will find a Gothic palace of the royal castle from the end of the 13th century. Špilberk also became discreditably famous as a prison.
Eventful history of the Czech Lands during over the next centuries also touched Brno. At the time of the Hussite wars the town was on the side of king Sigismund, later Brno opposed George of Poděbrady who however settled the disputes thanks to his diplomatic abilities.
In the 16th century the teaching of Martin Luther appeared in Brno and was positively accepted and spread quickly, especially among the German inhabitants, similarly as the teaching of Jan Kalvín was spreading quickly among the Czech Protestants.
Brno was a town of tolerance until an arrival of the Jesuits in the year 1572 and cardinal František of Dietrichštejn. They enforced Catholicism very strictly. After the Battle of the White Mountain the inhabitants of Brno were cruelly punished for supporting the revolt of the Estates in 1618. There were however no such executions as in Prague thanks to Karel Žerotín, snr. Although, he did not agree with the revolt of the Estates but he supported less strict punishment for the accused ones. The Restitution of the Land Order from the year 1627 meant the end of hopes of the Moravian Protestants for a return of a religious freedom. In the year 1630 a recatholization of Moravia was basically finished.
During the Thirty Years’ War the town resisted the Sweedish invasion and together with the whole country was going through the hard times of a long time religious oppression. The Toleration Patent brought at least partial religious freedom. At that time there was a development of industry, the first manufacturies (it was especially fine cloth that was manufactured here) and the villagers, especially the Protestants were coming to towns. A new chapter of the town of Brno as a forming city and a metropolis of Moravia starts to be written.
The Germans living in Brno were happily accepting Luther’s teaching; thanks to the understanding of a factory owner J. L. Koffiler, an Augsburg congregation of the German Evangelical Church was established here. In the years 1863–1867 in a later Comenius Square a Neo-Gothic three-nave church was built. The church was built according to a design of Vienna architect Heinrich of Ferstel and its tower is 45 metres high. At that time the “red” Christ Church was the biggest Protestant construction in the Catholic countries. Inside, besides the impressive interior, worth noticing is also a marble pulpit and the organ from the year 1887.
After World War II the red church in Comenius Square was entrusted to the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren (ECCB) and together with the Bethlehem Church in Pellicova Street it serves to Brno I congregation. In Opletalova Street there is a congregation building which is partly used by one of Brno schools of the Evangelical Academy – Social-Law Academy. (the second Brno school is Secondary Medical School of EA in Brno-Líšeň).
Let us however return to the topic of the Czech Protestants in Brno. After a proclamation of the Toleration Patent there used to be a common worship with the German Protestants. Later the Czech Protestants of a reformed confession became a preaching station of a congregation in Nosislav and in the year 1906 an independent congregation was formed in Brno. At that time the Bethlehem Church in Pellicova Street was already built. The first worship in a Neo-Classicist church with a unique entrance and spacious worship space took place on the 23rd of May 1895. The church and the rectory were seriously damaged at the end of the Second World War during Brno bombing.
The number of the Protestants in Brno was increasing and therefore already at the beginning of the 20th century it was decided to build a congregation house, similar to Hus House in Prague. The magnificent plans were interrupted by the First World War. Modern Blahoslav House was ceremonially opened on the 14th of December 1924 and it serves its purpose as the Brno II congregation until now. The House has many purposefully equipped halls and a worship room. There is also a possibility of accommodation (suitable also for students, soldiers, believers from the village). A residential house where ministers and other religious workers live is attached to the worship space.
In Brno-Židenice, in Konečného Street a congregation was established in 1929. Soon a live congregation started to consider building a church and thanks to the plans of a congregation member architect Miloslav Tejc and diligence of a builder Zukal as well as the congregation members, a spacious functionalist church with a necessary facilities and with a rectory was opened on the 2nd of June 1935. Three bells (gift from congregation members) were hung in the tower. But just one of them was preserved…
Air attacks at the end of the Second World War however also hit the new church in Židenice. It was almost completely destroyed but thanks to the dedication of people it was consecrated again as early as on the 2nd of June 1946 and it has been maintained perfectly until now.
The fourth congregation in Brno-Husovice was formed in the year 1945 and it owns a congregation house in Netušilova Street. The congregation is young and it relies on a community of young families with children. In the garden of the house a log-cabin for children and youth was built. A regular cultural event “Yard of Husovice” with a vernissage of exhibitions and theatrical performaces is held here. Bigbeat worship is as well very popular.
The Czechoslovak Hussite Church has several congregations in Brno: it is Hus congregation, a functionalist church from the year 1929 in Botanická Street and a church in Brno-Královo Pole, the first sacred constructivist building from the year 1925. There is a Church of the Saviour in Brno-Židenice.
The Church of the Brethren has its congregation in Kounicova Street. The house of prayer with a big and small hall was built in the years 1924–1925; another congregation is in Brno-Královo Pole. Brno-Betanie congregation belongs here, too.
The Jewish synagogue from the year 1885 was burned to ground already on the 16th of March 1939. The other synagogues did not survive the Second World War, either. Only a synagogue in Skořepka Street was renewed in the year 1945 and it serves to the worship purposes. It is the only live synagogue in the whole territory of Moravia and Silesia.
The Orthodox Church has been using St. Wenceslas’ Church in Špilberk since 1931. Many other churches have also their tabernacles in Brno, the town of tolerance.