Pilsen is West Bohemia's magnet for tourism. Founded by King Wenceslaus II at a crossroads between Prague and the kingdom's borders, Pilsen was endowed with an excellent location that brought it wealth in both trade and the arts, and this fact has been reflected in its architecture. The picturesque city centre is home to numerous landmarks. The wide variety of cultural and sports venues and modern tourism infrastructure offer excellent conditions for cultural, conference and experiential tourism. Pilsen's unique history in the arts and interesting cultural projects helped the city win the European Capital of Culture 2015 title.
Coat of arms
Pilsen's coat of arms refers to important events in the city's history. It features a sighthound, Papal keys and a knight, symbolising loyalty to the king and Catholic church, as well as a saviour angel and gold cross inscribed with In hoc signo vinces. And yes, a camel, commemorating a heroic act by the local townsfolk: when the city was encircled by the Hussites in the early 15th century, Pilseners managed to capture the enemy's good luck charm – a live camel.
Architecture of Pilsen
Preserved as a historical landmark, the centre is a veritable textbook of architectural styles which you can read as you stroll in the city. The Gothic St Bartholomew's Cathedral and its church tower (the country's tallest at 102.26 m), Renaissance Town Hall, Baroque Plague Column, three modern fountains and Franciscan Monastery dominate Republic Square and the area. The gardens surrounding the city centre are a pleasant place for a stroll and offer a view of the Great Synagogue, the world's third-largest Jewish temple.
Few cities can boast of such a long and successful cultural history as Pilsen, which has been primarily celebrated for its theatre. Each year nearly twenty ballets, operas, operettas, musicals and dramas premiere at Josef Kajetán Tyl Theatre. Alfa Theatre follows in the traditions of Pilsen puppet theatre pioneers Josef Skupa and Jiří Trnka. The Pilsen Philharmonic and West Bohemian Gallery are distinguished houses of the arts. Winning the European Capital of Culture 2015 title is the pinnacle in the city's rich cultural history.
Regular events in Pilsen
- Multi-genre music festivals
- Smetana Days (III), Metal Fest (V), Jazz without Borders (X, XI).
- Cultural festivals
- Finále Plzeň Czech Film Festival (IV), International Folklore Festival CIOFF (VI), International Biennial of Drawing (XI, 2014).
- Outdoor events and entertainment in the city streets
- Liberation Festival (V), Majáles (V), Melina Mercouri Day (VI), History Weekend (VI), Living Streets (VII, VIII), Science and Technology Days (IX), Pilsen celebrates the establishment of Czechoslovakia (X), Advent (XII).
- Theatre festivals
- Skupa's Pilsen Puppet Theatre Biennial (VI, 2014), Summer of Theatre under the Pilsen Sky (VII), Divadlo International Theatre Festival (IX).
- Beer and food
- Apetit festival (V), Sunshine in a glass (IX), Pilsner Fest (X).
When in the city of pilsner, visiting the Pilsner Urquell brewery is a must. World-famous Pilsner Urquell has been brewed in Pilsen since 1842. Try to discover the secret recipe in the brewery's historical brewhouse and cellars and modern production halls. Visitors will also enjoy the entertaining tour of the Gambrinus brewery next door.
The Brewery Museum is located in an original mediaeval brewing house. In addition to authentic brewery exhibits, you can also investigate the labyrinth of mediaeval halls, cellars and wells in Pilsen's historical underground.
Beer lovers will enjoy the vibrant range of microbrewery beers. And you can even relax in a bath of young hoppy suds at the Purkmistr microbrewery in Pilsen-Černice.
Pilsen for children
Pilsen is an ideal destination for young families. The zoo will enchant young and old alike with its beautiful, natural cagefree environment and diversity of animals. Next door you'll find
the popular Dinopark and the Fairy Tale House, a favourite among young children. Visit the world-famous puppets Spejbl and Hurvínek at the Puppet Museum on Republic Square, and discover Pilsen's legendary ghosts at the Museum of Ghosts and Fairy Tales. Both children and adults will have fun at Techmania science center.
Sports enthusiasts will find plenty of opportunity to accelerate their heartbeat in Pilsen. Get warmed up at one of the city's three in-line skating tracks and skateparks open to the public. Following bike routes 3, 37 and along the riverbanks, you can reach interesting sites in and around Pilsen by bicycle. Golf, tennis and adrenaline sports can all be found in the city. Pilsen's ice hockey and football clubs have given their fanbases plenty of reason to cheer.
The city's location in the centre of Western Bohemia makes it an ideal base for day trips. The Bolevec Ponds recreational area is used for swimming, water sports and walks through the large pine forests. The Meditation Garden, built on the southern edge of Pilsen by former political prisoner Luboš Hruška, invites all seeking a place to rest and contemplate. The monasteries in Kladruby, Plasy and Mariánská Týnice and the Manětín chateau are among the reasons why the Pilsen region is called the "Baroque Pearl".