A county seat with 29,000 inhabitants, Hodonin lies in the wine-growing Dolnomoravsky vale, 60 km South-east of Brno on the border between the Czech and Slovak states.
Hodonin was founded in about 1030 as part of a fortification against Hungarian raids. During the Hussite wars, the city came under the management of protestant nobles from Kunstat and Lipa.
In the 17th and 18th centuries, Hodonin suffered several wars, as well as uprisings of the serfs.
After the abolition of serfdom, production in the guild system prevailed. At the end of the 18th century, Hodonin castle was converted to a tobacco factory. Further development of industry appeared at the end of the 19th century, in connection with the North Ferdinand rail road and with the overall expansion of transportation. Hodonin was three times the seat of an economic and ethnographic exhibition.
Tomas Garrigue Masaryk (1850-1937), the first president of Czechoslovakia and a professor of philosophy at Charles University, was born in Hodonin. In 1905, the first meeting between Czech and Slovak political leaders took place here.
Since 1978, Hodonin has been a spa town as well, especially known for its iodine mineral spring.
The region is attractive of wonderful folk songs, dances and folk costumes. The living folk traditions are various, and in a way different in each village. The character of folklore is kept alive by bigger centres with preserved and developing folk traditions. Well known are vintages, and fairs, as well as a wide variety of costumes and folk traditions.
A symbol of Moravian Slovakia is the activity of folk song and dance ensembles, the beauty of folk architecture and also the colourful and rich folk costumes, embroideries and Eastern eggs, figures made of maize straw, woodwork, artefacts made of wicker and straw and also variety and specialities of folk gastronomy. Another example of folk art are colour ornaments, which until now decorate village houses or are a part of folk costumes.
The town’s name is derived from the name of somebody called “Hodona”, or Godona in old Czech, which in turns derives from the old-Slavonic stem “God-doba”, and so it translates as “Hodona’s people”.
The first written record of Hodonín dates from 1046. Hodonín settlement was set up when the castle was built. The settlement was founded on three elevated locations bellow the castle, which protected it against the Morava river floods. A charter issued by queen Constance of Hungary, the wife of king Ottokar I of Bohemia, conferred on Hodonín the status of a town in 1228.
Hodonín then became the property of Jan Kunštát, on the condition that he rebuilds and fortifies it. However, the town as well as the castle were thoroughly rebuilt only later, towards the end of the 15th century and the beginning of the 16th century, by Harant of Kunštát. The castle was rebuilt in late-Gothic style and especially the part of the castle facing the Hungarian border was reinforced, since this was the direction any attacks would be expected from.
Hodonín and the whole estate were badly destroyed during the Thirty Years War. There were only two houses that remained inhabited and not a single member of the Town Council was left alive.
The present shape of the Saint Laurence Church dates from its reconstruction in 1780. Before that, it had been rebuilt by count Oppersdorf in 1668. The church was erected on the place where an older, Romaneque church had been located, which was founded probably already in the 13the century. The presbytery dates back as early as 1240.
In 1805 Russian Tzar Alexander I. stopped in Hodonin following the battle at Slavkov, where he had lost. He stayed in the presbytery for 3 hours. After the Russians had departed, even Napoleon himself arrived in Hodonin and took lodgings in the castle. A French field-day took place at the square, by the plague pillar. The French came to Hodonin one more time: in 1806, Napoleon took his lunch in the castle and another infantry field-day took place at Hodonín square
Hodonín has 27 918 inhabitants, according to the 1997 census.