As the fourth largest city in the Czech Republic, Pilsen (Plzeň in Czech) occupies a dominant position in the Western part of Bohemia. Now a major industrial, commercial, cultural and administrative centre, Pilsen traces its history back to 1295 when Czech king Wenceslas II founded a settlement on the confluence of four rivers, the Úhlava, the Úslava, the Radbuza and the Berounka. Its advantageous location between Prague and the border subsequently enabled rapid economic growth.


Today, the city of Pilsen is spread across an area of 125 km2, having a population of 167,000. Its cultural and economic prominence has left its mark on its unique architecture: in 1989 the historical centre of Pilsen was designated an urban heritage reserve. The city's most valuable architectural monuments include the Gothic cathedral of St Bartholomew, the Renaissance building of the City Hall, the buildings of the Archdeaconry and the Franciscan monastery, both rebuilt in the Baroque style, and the Jewish synagogue.


The late nineteenth and early twentieth century saw the implementation of several ambitious construction projects of public buildings, among them a city theatre, a museum, a set of assembly rooms for the gatherings of the city's bourgeoisie (The Burgher Hall) etc. Especially unique is the set of 18 houses decorated with sgraffiti based on the designs of Mikoláš Aleš, a famous Czech nineteenth-century artist.


The nineteenth century, the period of intense industrialization, gave birth to Pilsen's two well-known industrial giants: Škoda Works and Pilsner Urquell. Today, Pilsen is once again the site of great construction effort with the building of the modern industrial park at Borská pole, unique on a national scale. The efforts to improve the quality of education in the region led to the foundation of University of West Bohemia (Západočeská univerzita). There is also a remarkably well-developed network of secondary grammar schools, secondary technical schools and art schools. Pilsen is home to international institutions such as Alliance Française, the English Library and the Austrian Library. The city's spiritual traditions have been reinvigorated by the establishment of a bishopric in 1993. Perhaps a little surprisingly, Pilsen also offers ample opportunities for recreation, with many woods, rivers and lakes in the vicinity, and historical monuments as a welcome destination for out-of-town trips.

Today, Pilsen is a city unique not only due to its world-famous beer. It has a large creative potential: its long-term vision of an open, culture-oriented city has come to fruition in its successful candidacy for European Capital of Culture 2015.

Pilsen 2015

European Capitals of Culture are considered one of the most prestigious and successful EU development projects. Through it, the chosen cities get the chance to become more visible internationally, establish contacts between local artists or performers and their counterparts from other European countries, enhance the quality of their cultural offerings and achieve a lasting transformation. Three cities in the Czech Republic competed for the title: Pilsen, the North Moravian city of Ostrava, and Hradec Králové, a large city in East Bohemia. In the final deliberations, the international panel of experts chose Pilsen, and the city was officially designated as the future European Capital of Culture by the EU Council of Ministers. The project should help transform Pilsen into a modern, dynamic city that inspires and fosters a wide range of activities, disciplines, technologies, artistic genres, opinions and creeds. It offers the city's inhabitants the chance to participate in making their city a better place to live, showcase high-quality local and national culture, and be inspired by interesting international artistic trends. The motto of the project is: “Pilsen, open up!” It is this very idea of opening up – to new ideas, innovation and creativity – that dominates the concept of what is undoubtedly the most important cultural event in the Czech Republic in 2015. It is especially vital to broaden opportunities for minority genres, multiculturalism, and intergenerational dialogue, but also to bring together culture and business, science and art, technology and education, public life and relaxation.



Adolf Loos spent much time in Pilsen in the late 1920s and early 1930s: the city was the birthplace of his last wife, photographer Claire Beck. In Pilsen Loos also found sophisticated clients, many of whom contracted work from or collaborated with the Kapsa-Müller construction company, a local firm which took pride in working with the famous architect (the Villa Müller in Prague, one of Loos's famous creations, was built for a descendant of the Pilsen-based Müller family). Loos's works in Pilsen include a reconstruction of the Brummel House (Husova 58) and 13 apartment interiors regarded by experts as one of the greatest attractions of the city. Present appreciation of modern architectural heritage highlights the priceless value of this group of interiors in the entire context of twentieth-century European architecture. In 2003, the 70th anniversary of Loos's death, the Pilsen branch of the National Heritage Institute organized an international symposium on his work. This prompted the city to take steps to preserve this historical heritage.

In recent years, the City of Pilsen acquired several of the Loos Interiors. The rest are still privately owned; however, one of the owners agreed to open the building for the public once a year. At present most of the interiors are empty, offering only a partial and fragmented idea of the original design. The future of the Loos Interiors is partly outlined in the 2009–2019 Programme of Cultural Development for the City of Pilsen which envisages the establishment of a sightseeing route dedicated to these architectural monuments.



The construction of the cathedral began after 1295 and was completed in the early 16th century. On the main altar there is a statue of the Pilsen Madonna from 1390 whose replica graces Pilsen's seventeenth-century plague column. Sculpted in arenaceous marl, the original Madonna represents one of the most valuable examples of the Beautiful Style. The Sternberg Chapel with its pendant boss dates back to the first half of the 16th century. In 1993, Pope John Paul II established a bishopric in Pilsen and the Church of St Bartholomew became St Bartholomew Cathedral. The cathedral spire is 102.6 m high which makes it the tallest church spire in Bohemia and a favourite lookout spot.



An important chapter in Pilsen's history and development is connected with the “liquid gold” as beer is often called. Beer has been brewed in the city almost since its foundation. The first written mention of beer brewing dates back to 1307. Later, beer was only brewed in houses which received brewing rights from King Wenceslas II in the 13th century. Since the rights were given to no fewer than 260 burghers, the quality of the final product varied greatly due to differences in technology and ingredients. The turning point came in 1838: in this year no less than 36 hectolitres of beer were declared undrinkable and dumped out in the square, right in front of the City Hall. This unfortunate event persuaded the burghers that it was necessary to build a new, modern brewery to ensure proper quality of Pilsener beer. On 5 October 1842, the local brewer Josef Groll brewed the first bottom-fermented pale lager which subsequently became a model for all pale beers. The brewery commemorates this historic day with annual festivities, the Pilsner Fest. The production of a brand-new lager of unique quality and inimitable taste soon made Pilsen one of the world's beer metropolises. The Pilsner Urquell Brewery is the most popular Pilsen destination among foreign tourists. The Pilsner Urquell Brewery and the Brewery Museum annually welcome more than 180.000 visitors.



The Brewery Museum is the only museum of its kind in the world that is housed by an original beer court. The house has been preserved in its original state, giving the visitors the chance to see a real Gothic malt house with a well, a malt kiln, the green malt drying room where green malt was stored and pre-dried, two-level cellars with an ice-cellar, and an original pub room. Hundreds of unique exhibits document the history of beer brewing from ancient times to the present. The development of beer-drinking culture is represented by two pub rooms: one a country pub from the 19th century, the other a city pub of the early 20th century. Close to the Brewery Museum you can find one of the oldest pubs in Pilsen, Parkán, whose name is derived from the term designating the area between the city's medieval double fortifications.


The Techmania Science Centre in Pilsen is a unique project on a national scale which should convince everyone that science is not just research, but also great fun. Techmania offers its visitors dozens of interactive exhibits that help them understand the world around us. Here you will learn the effects of the centrifugal force, understand the Ohm Law or the basic principles of optics and much, much more. You can also try for yourself, what it takes to be a spy or a detective, and discover more about ballistics, fingerprint identification, or document encoding. Apart from the exhibits you can also enjoy the science and technology show using liquid nitrogen or static electricity that will, quite literally, make your hair stand on end!

You may also appreciate some unique technology monuments not to be seen anywhere else in the world, e. g. the first locomotive with a fiberglass body (1963), the only preserved 3Tr3 trolleybus (1947) or the oldest preserved electrical locomotive produced by the Škoda company in 1928. Apart from these exhibits, the centre houses many tram and trolleybus models and a real steam engine from 1909.


Jewish Synagogue
Urban heritage reserve – sgraffiti by Mikoláš Aleš
City Hall
Pilsen underground
J. K. Tyl Theatre
Franciscan monastery
Church of St Anne
Burgher Hall
Victims of Evil Memorial – Meditation Garden created by Luboš Hruška, a former political prisoner
Park ring
Bolevec Common
Bolevec Ponds

We wish you a pleasant stay in Pilsen and hope that the COS congress will prove an enjoyable experience and inspiration for your future work.


We strive to protect our environment. All congress materials are made from recycled and enviromentally-friendly materials.



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