Náměstí republiky (Square of the Republic) with St. Bartholomew Cathedral.
Photo © Kamil & Filip Ekštein, 2022
The city of Plzeň (or Pilsen in Germanic languages) is situated in the heart of West Bohemia at the confluence of four rivers: Úhlava, Úslava, Radbuza, and Mže. With its approx. 171,000 inhabitants it is the fourth largest city in the Czech Republic and an important industrial, commercial, and administrative centre. It is also the capital of the Pilsen Region. In addition, it has been elected the European Capital of Culture for 2015 by the Council of the European Union.
Plzeň is well-known for its brewing tradition. Pilsner beer is a planetwide legend. The trademark Pilsner Urquell has the best reputation all over the world thanks to the traditional recipe, high quality hops from the famous Žatec hop-fields and crystal-clear groundwater from extraordinarily deep wells. Beer lovers will always appreciate a visit to the Brewery Museum or the Brewery itself.
Plzeň is also the home of an industrial giant, Škoda. The Škoda Works used to be one of the largest European industrial conglomerates of the 20th century. They were founded in 1859 there, then the Kingdom of Bohemia, Austrian Empire, by famous Czech engineer and industrialist knight Emil Škoda. Since then, the make Škoda with the distinctive winged arrow has been proudly put onto countless locomotives, tramways, trolleybuses, ships, aircraft, machine tools, steam turbines, and even nuclear reactors.
Apart from its delicious beer and advanced industrial production, Plzeň hides lots of cultural and historical treasures in its core. The city can boast the second largest synagogue in Europe. The dominant of the old part of the city centre is definitely the 13th-century Gothic cathedral of St. Bartholomew featuring the highest tower in Bohemia (102.34 m). It is possible to go up and admire the view of the city. Not far from the cathedral, there is the splendid Renaissance Town Hall from 1558 and plenty of pleasant cafes and pubs are situated on and around the main square.
There is also the beautiful Pilsen Historical Underground – under the city centre, a complex network of passageways and cellars can be found. The passages are about 14 km long and visitors can see the most beautiful part of this labyrinth during the tour.
It is recommended to visit the City Zoological Garden, having the second largest space for bears in Europe and keeping a few Komodo dragons, large lizards that exist only in a few zoos in the world.
In the surroundings of the city, there are some worth seeing landmarks, especially the Radyně Castle, the Kozel Castle, and St. Peter's Rotunda in Starý Plzenec which comes from the 10th century.
Plzeň is also an important centre of high education: The University of West Bohemia in Plzeň provides a variety of courses for both Czech and international students. It is the only institution of higher education in this part of the country which prepares students for careers in engineering (electrical and mechanical), science (computer science, applied mathematics, physics, and mechanics), education (both primary and secondary), public health services, economics, philosophy, politics, archaeology, anthropology, foreign languages, law and public administration, art, and design. The Faculty of Medicine in Plzeň is one of five faculties of medicine of the Charles University and educates physicians of numerous specializations, dentists, and highly qualified nurses.
The city of Plzeň has a convenient location in the centre of West Bohemia, close to the German border, on the confluence of four rivers. The place lied on the crossroads of important medieval trade routes and nowadays it naturally forms an important highway and railroad junction; thus, it is easily accessible using both individual and public means of transport.
Plzeň lies 85 km (53 mi) south-westwards from the Czech capital Prague , 222 km (138 mi) from the Bavarian capital Munich , 148 km (92 mi) from the Saxon capital Dresden , and 174 km (108 mi) from the Upper Austrian capital Linz . The closest international airport is the Vaclav Havel Airport Prague , which is 75 km (47 mi) away and one can get from there to Plzeň very easily within about two hours by Prague public transport and a train/bus.
Plzeň is an important railroad junction and, therefore, there are many trains from various directions coming to the city. From the Czech capital Prague, there goes at least one train in each hour during the whole day. The same applies for trains coming from Cheb (and further on from Hof or Nuremberg, Germany) or Domažlice (further on from Regensburg and Munich, Germany).
You can use a very convenient transportation planning web application idos.cz to find a suitable connection for you.
The main railway station in Plzeň is located very conveniently close to the city centre (about 1 km / 0.6 mi). Tramway/bus/trolleybus stations are located right beside the station building (now under extensive reconstruction, however, working smoothly). The public transport in the city is procured by the Plzeňské městské dopravní podniky (Plzeň City Transportation Corp.) To find a connection, you may use online timetables.
The city has a fast road connection westwards to Nuremberg (Nürnberg), Germany, and north-eastwards to the Czech capital Prague (Praha) via the motorway D5/E50. The roads 20/E49 and 3/E55 can take you easily to Linz in Upper Austria. Another access to Plzeň is from Dresden in Saxony via Teplice and Most using the motorway A17 → D8/E55 and then roads 13/E442 and 27.
For other road directions, consult a map with route planning capabilities.