A city of history, a city with tradition. A city of culture and art. A city of sports. A city of research and development. A university city. The city that gave the beer its name. The city where the Škoda brand was born. A city where life is good. The European Capital of Culture 2015.
The royal city of Pilsen was founded in 1295 by King Wenceslas II at the confluence of four rivers: the Radbuza, Mže, Úhlava, and Úslava. The city enjoyed various privileges granted to it by kings, emperors and even the Pope himself, which reinforced the local pride and independence, with crafts and trade booming. This tradition was followed up on later by famous enterprises such as Škoda and the Pilsner Urquell Brewery.
The industrial tradition of the city also contributed to its economic strength and the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century can be marked down as the golden era of Pilsen, which saw the construction of the Great Synagogue, the theatre, the City Clubhouse (Měšťanská beseda), a number of school buildings... The city was living culture and Pilseners were getting richer and paying attention to the style and the beauty around them. Among the unique heritage from this period are the interiors of Adolf Loos, who frequently stayed in Pilsen in the period at the turn of the 1920s and 1930s, and it was right here where he found a cultured clientele. It is not a coincidence that artists with world-famous names such as Ladislav Sutnar, Jiří Trnka, Josef Skupa and a number of others come from Pilsen.
World War II and the subsequent years of communism set Pilsen’s growth back, and the political division of Europe positioned the city on the hem of the Iron Curtain. Despite persecution, though, Pilseners never forgot the liberation of their city by the U.S. Army in 1945, and in 1953 even found the courage to revolt against the currency reform of the communist regime. After the fall of communism in 1989, they returned again with pride to their old traditions and Pilsen followed up on its successful history.
The Pilsen of today is almost 140 km2 in area and has a population exceeding 168,000. It is the seat of a bishopric and a university. Continuing the industrial tradition of the city are enterprises such as Škoda Transportation a.s., Doosan Škoda Power s.r.o and a number of new businesses specialising in power engineering and transportation systems; the city is also growing into a major centre of research and development. Pilsen boasts the Techmania Science Centre, which contributes to the popularisation of science and technology among the general public. Brands such as Pilsner Urquell, Bohemia Sekt and Stock have a great tradition in Pilsen. Conditions facilitating the development of entrepreneurship are also supported by sufficient numbers of qualified workers, often graduates from the University of West Bohemia in Pilsen where over 17,000 students pursue their studies every year. Also, the Faculty of Medicine of the Charles University operates in Pilsen and has opened an advanced biomedical centre here.
In the sporting arena, Pilsen has earned renown thanks to the likes of FC Viktoria Plzeň, HC Škoda Plzeň, Kateřina Emmons, David Křížek and a number of other successful sportspeople. Culture aficionados come to Pilsen for its rich spectrum of festivals and its museums, clubs, theatres and galleries. The Zoological and Botanical Gardens of the City of Pilsen invite you to relax and learn. The Pilsner Urquell Brewery is one of the most frequently visited tourist destinations in the Czech Republic and further spreads the reputation of the city whose name is concealed in the name of the world famous Pilsner Urquell beer. The area surrounding the city boasts beautiful nature and invites you to discover sights commemorating, among other things, the illustrious Baroque era and the presence of Jan Blažej Santini Aichel.
In 2015, Pilsen becomes the European Capital of Culture. It will open up to fresh cultural impulses, and welcome artists from various domains and corners of the world.
Don’t miss out on the action and take a peek at what the small paradise of Pilsen has in store for you.