The largest city in Western Bohemia was established at the confluence of four rivers - the Úhlava, Úslava, Mže and Radbuza - which all flow together here to create the River Berounka.
Pilsen was founded by the Czech King Wencelsas II in approximately 1295, and the local inhabitants were always loyal to him. The city made cultural history when the oldest Czech book, the 'Trojan Chronicle' was printed here in 1468.
Pilsen's history is linked with several very important personalities - the dramatist and author of the Czech national anthem, Josef Kajetán Tyl who died here, the director E. F. Burian and the graphic designer Jiří Trnka who were born here, the writer Karel Klostermann who taught at a local school and the puppeteer Josef Skupa who established a popular puppet theatre here in 1917 and created the beloved puppet characters Spejbl and Hurvínek. As for industry, Pilsen became famous for the huge Škoda Works and for its celebrated brewery, both established during the 19th century. Today, Pilsen is known as the site of the annual celebrations commemorating the liberation of the area by the US Army and as the seat of the West Bohemian University and the Medical Faculty of Charles University.
History lovers will certainly be impressed with Pilsen's historic sights. The steeple of St. Bartholomew's Cathedral is the highest in the Czech Republic at 103 metres. The church is situated in the middle of Republic Square and the tower offers an amazing view of the city and its surroundings. This Gothic Cathedral was built at the same time as the city, though some of its vaults date back to the years 1432–1470. The Renaissance City Hall, built in 1554–1558 by an Italian master, also stands on the square. When strolling through the city centre, one becomes aware of its regular rectangular network of streets which were established at the end of the 13th century. Visitors often admire the historical town houses here - several notable examples of religious architecture can also be found. The former Franciscan Monastery, originally Gothic but later given a Baroque makeover, serves as the Diocese Museum.
The State Scientific Library is housed in the former Dominican Convent. Close by is the Church of St. Anne which was built prior to 1735. If you are seeking further interesting places historical interest, you may wish to drop in to the Brewery Museum or visit the Pilsen Armoury which contains a huge number of historical weapons. We recommend art lovers visit the West Bohemian Fine Art Gallery which showcases its exhibits in what were originally meat shops. The town's historical underground is also essential viewing.
Getting There: Direct train from Mariánské Lázně, by car (one hour)