Plzeň – Pilsen

Plzeň is the capital city of the Plzeň Region (Plzeňský kraj) of Western Bohemia in the Czech Republic (Česká Republika). Plzeň is located around 90 km west of Prague (Praha) at the confluence of four rivers: Radbuza, Mže, Úslava and Úhlava.

Plzeň
Plzeň
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A Brief History of Plzeň (Pilsen)

The earliest documentary evidence of Plzeň dates to the year 976 when a mention of Plzeň Castle was recorded.

Modern Plzeň was founded in 1295 when King Wenceslas II (Václav II) granted Plzeň its civic charter. Designed by the royal architect Jindřich, Plzeň was constructed at the crossroads of two important trade routes linking Bohemia with Nürnberg and Regensburg.

In the 14th century Plzeň, covering an area of 20 hectares and comprising of 14 streets and squares with 290 houses, was the third-largest town in Bohemia following Prague and Kutná Hora.

During the Hussite Wars it was the centre of catholic resistance to the Hussites; it was thrice unsuccessfully besieged by Prokop the Great, and it took part in the league of the Romanist nobles against King George of Podebrady. The first printing press was established here in 1468.

King Rudolf II made Plzeň his seat from 1599-1600. During the Thirty Years’ War the town was taken by Mansfeld in 1618 after the Siege of Plzeň and not recaptured by the Imperialists until 1621. Wallenstein made it his winter-quarters in 1633. The town was unsuccessfully besieged by the Swedes in 1637 and 1648.

At the end of the 17th century Plzeň’s architecture began to be influenced by the Baroque style; the historic city center has been historically preserved since 1989.

At the end of the Second World War, on May 6, 1945, Plzeň and Western Bohemia were liberated from the Nazis by General Patton’s 3rd Army, unlike the rest of Czechoslovakia, which was taken by the Red Army. The Yalta Conference has placed Czechoslovakia in Soviet sphere of influence and Patton had to withdraw shortly after the armistice. Liberation of Pilsen and Western Bohemia by the 3rd Army was essentially erased from history books by the former Czechoslovak Communist Regime and has only recently entered public consciousness again. There is a monument dedicated to the 3rd Army from the people of Plzeň, thanking them for liberation, located at the start of Americká Ulice (American Street).

Since the second half of the 1990s the city has experienced high growth in foreign investment.

Plzeň is the second largest city of Bohemia and the center of academic, business and cultural life for Western Czech Republic. The University of West Bohemia, headquartered here, is well-known for its School of Engineering, School of Law and Department of Applied Mathematics.

Economic Matters

Plzeň makes up approximately two-thirds of the GDP of the Western Bohemia Region, even though it contains only 29.8% of the region’s population.[1] Based on these figures, the city of Plzeň has a total GDP of approximately $7.2 billion, and a per-capita GDP of $44,000, making it one of the most prosperous cities in the Czech Republic.

There are many foreign companies who now have manufacturing bases in Plzeň including Daikin and Panasonic. Given the large investments in infastructure currently visible within the city and surrounding areas one can only predict this will continue. There is a large Industrial Park located to the West of the Main city, which looks modern and well laid out, with good transport links to the nearly 100% complete E50 Motorway straight to Nürnberg (190 km) or in the opposite direction to Prague (90 km).

Interest

Plzeň is famous for its Pilsener beer, one brand of which is Pilsner Urquell, and produced since 1842, and for the Škoda Works engineering factory established by Emil Škoda in 1859. The most prominent monuments are the Gothic church of St. Bartholomew, said to date from 1292, whose tower (100 m) is the highest in the Czech Republic, the Renaissance town hall dating from the 16th century, and the third largest synagogue in the world (after Jerusalem and Budapest). There is also an historic underground tunnel/cellar network open to the public for tours, up to 3 chambers deep running under parts of the Old Town.

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