Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Plzeň, Czech Republic

Plzeň, in western Bohemia and with 170,000 people, is the 4th largest city in Czechland.  It is 90 km (56 miles) west of Prague.

It is most well known as the home of Pilsner beer.  It is also the home of Škoda.   

The town was established in 1295 and went on to become part of an important trade route between Bohemia and Bavaria.

Plzeň, along with Mons in Belgium, has been selected to be a European Capital of Culture in 2015.

The main site at Republic Square is the St. Bartholomew Cathedral.  The original church was completed around 1340.  It was renovated following a fire in 1507 and being struck by lightning in 1837.  The church was given cathedral status by Pope John Paul II in 1993.

The spire is 102.6 meters (336.6 feet) and is the highest in ČR.  The views make it worth a climb up to the top.

The St. Mary's plague column was built in 1681 to commemorate those lost to the "black death".

The Renaissance town hall is over 500 years old.

In front of a bank is a socialist memorial.  As well as a memorial to the communist terror from 1948 to 1989.

The brewery museum is located in a 15th-century building with an original license to brew beer. 

The historical underground is an interesting sight.  It's a network of three story cellars built in the Middle Ages.  It's necessary to wear a protective hat in order to keep from hitting your head on the low ceilings.

The Great Synagogue was completed in 1892.  It is the second largest synagogue in Europe and the third largest in the world.  It was used as a storage facility by the Nazis during the war and was closed down by the communists.  It was reopened in 1998 after three years of restoration.

General Patton's 16th Armored Division of the 3rd Army liberated Plzeň from the Nazis on May 6th, 1945.  After the communists seized power in 1948, they went to great lengths to suppress knowledge of the U.S. Army's part in liberating Western Bohemia.

WWII Monument for Czech solders
Until 1989, it was taught that the Red Army alone liberated Czechoslovakia.  There's now a memorial that says "Thanks America".

There is now an annual Liberation Festival that takes place every May 6th and many American veterans return each year.  I need to check it out next year.

The Plzeňský Prazdroj brewery has produced Pilsner Urquell since 1842.  It has also produced Gambrinus since 1869.  

The brewery tour is among the most popular things to do in town.  It's pretty interesting to see the bottling plant and the vats where the beer is produced.

Enjoying the good stuff!!

However, the best part is getting to taste the unfiltered, unpasteurized beer.  

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