Plzen or Plzen in english, is probably the town you have heard of at some point in your life. Most probably when you have ordered a beer and wanted a “pilsner”. That beer was first brewed here in a town in the Czech republic. Also, a place where I was born. Plzen is just an hour away from Prague and it is definitely worth to visit. Besides, there is plenty of things to do. This is my local guide on things you should most definitely do when visiting Plzen.
Things to do in Plzen
Brewery and brewery museum
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Here is where the magic started. One of the biggest breweries in the Czech Republic offers a tour. Even in several foreign languages and it is pretty cheap. You get to know here everything bout brewing beer itself. And actually you get to know about why is Pilsner so special and how it is brewed differently. In general, this museum is awesome for any beer lover.
The brewery itself was founded in 1842. Before it was possible to brew a beer in different places by different people, which make the unstable quality of the beer. That is where the idea of one brewery with stable quality began. Just about 15 years later the Plzen beer gets to be in Wien. Ever since then, the beer gets more and more popularity, it is exported to different parts of world and it even started a daughter company with slightly different types of beer.
If you are visiting Plzen, the local brewery tour is definitely something you should do in Plzen. You will get to know everything about the beer itself and the amazing story behind it.
Cathedral of st. Bartholomew
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A Gothic church that you can find in the main square in Plzen. The date when it was established is not certain, so we guess it was built together with the city in 1292. The cathedral was finished in the 16th century but got the status of the cathedral just in 1993 when pope John Paul the 2nd established bishopric here. Before it was just a church. But with the height of 103 meters, it was (and still is) one of the tallest churches in the Czech republic.
When you enter the cathedral, you get to see a lot of beautiful architecture. In the altar, there is very well-known Pilsen Madonna, the statue that represents the style of the Gothic era, when it was made. Perhaps one of the best things about the church is also the fact that you can see the whole city from local galleries.
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A labyrinth of passageways, underground streets, wells, and cellars. Plzen has a historical underground and you can go through it too, there are tours through it the whole morning, where you can get to know a lot more about this underground that goes back to the 14th century.
In the tour, you can see how the underground changed during centuries and how the locals were using it differently during centuries.
The Great synagogue is the second biggest synagogue in Europe and third in the world. You can find it right in the city center. In 1993 was pronounced as the cultural heritage of the Czech republic. The interior is decorated with paintings of plants. You can also find here organ from 1890 when the synagogue was most popular.
During the second world war was the synagogue used as a storage of food and other different things. It was established again as a place of worship since 1973.
Rennaisance building that is up till now used as the town hall of Plzen comes from the 15th century. The house was originally built in the 15th century and soon after the people from the municipality decided to make it into a fashionable town hall since it was the biggest house in the center square.
The Cathedral of st. Bartholomew is about 50 meters from it and the Plzen underground is right under the town hall. Currently is the first floor of the building used as an exhibition hall where you can also find a samurai armor(No explanation here, I have no idea what meaning does it have for the city).
Pretty large zoo in the middle of Plzen. There is a lot of animals in a great environment, so you don’t have to be afraid that it is unethical or that the animals don’t have enough space. At the same time, there are a lot of trees around so you can come here even if it is hot. There is always something to hide under.
At the same time, the local zoo isn’t just about animals. You can find here plenty of plants in the botanical department, both exotic ones and the ones that are natural for Europe habitat. Besides that, Plzen zoo has one more department that is especially exciting for kids who are into dinosaurs. Yep, Plzen has dino parks. A large space filled with statues of dinosaurs in their proper scale, both the small kinds and the big ones. Especially in the dino park, you can find a lot of interactive games.
How to get to Plzen
Getting to Plzen is surprisingly easy. There are two ways you can get there – besides the car. First – take a train. From Prague, you can take the train either from the Central station and or from the station called Smíchov. It takes about an hour and 20 minutes to get to Plzen central station, which is very close to the city center. Approximately 10 minutes by walk. The train ticket costs about 5 dollars and I would recommend a seat reservation as it is often full, especially during the weekend.
If you don’t feel like taking the train, you can also take a bus. Two main operators are seeling bus tickets. First of them is a Czech company called Student agency and they are departing from Zličín, which is in the suburbs of Prague but close to the airport or from Florenc, which is also in Prague, closer to the city center, close by a subway station. It also takes from hour to hour and a half (from Florenc) and costs around 5 dollars. You should pre-order these on websites.
What else to do in Plzen?
I’d like to dedicate this paragraph to one special occasion. On the 1st of May, the Czech Republic celebrates the end of world war. Plzen was liberated by the American army and every beginning of May they celebrate it. Most of the time they invite veterans, there are great talks, the second world war machine and so one. Generally, a lot of things from these times. Sometimes even veterans come to visit the city that they liberated back then. Plzen is worth to visit in general but the first weekend in May is something special there.
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