Pilsen is a city of industry and beer, a city on the way to the West, a city on the Golden Path of trade, a city of four rivers. These days it is a city which has also been granted the prestigious title of the European Capital of Culture 2015(www.plzen2015.cz). In the year 2015, Pilsen will fully open up to cultural Europe as a host of outstanding artists and exceptional cultural events.
The city dates back to 1295, and at one time was the third largest in the country, after Prague and Kutna Hora. Due to its location at the confluence of four rivers; it was a busy trading city. A couple of fires in the 16th century destroyed much of the town centre which was curiously rebuilt by many Italian architects and builders. Baroque also played a big part in the city’s style, and the tourist information bureau offers a cool map that plots out a walking tour of the town to take in some of the best preserved buildings.
The University of West Bohemia is located here which gives the town a younger, more alive vibe. With 167,000 inhabitants, Plzeň is small enough to be relaxed, but big enough to keep you amused. Any visit should start at the city’s main square. It is huge, and home to a variety of markets and other fun activities throughout the year, including a Christmas market. The Cathedral of St. Bartholomew is open to the public, and be sure to climb the tower for great views across the region. The houses on the square include glimpses of medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, Gothic and more. The streets surrounding the square are also good for a wander. In doing so, keep your eyes peeled for sgrafitti decoration featuring themes from Czech history.