Plzeň is known for its popular European beer, Pilsner, but with the fourth largest population in the Czech Republic, impressive 13th century European architecture and the second largest synagogue on the continent, Plzeň has a lot to offer beyond its beer brewing history. The city is in Western Bohemia, around 90 kilometres west of Prague. With a historical centre extending into a modern metropolis, Plzeň is a buzzing, energetic hub, recently winning the European Capital of Culture in 2015.
The streets of Plzeň are saturated in beautiful architecture, including the Gothic Cathedral of St Bartholomew with the highest tower in the country, the Great Synagogue of Moorish design, and the Town Hall, an iconic image of Renaissance style. Exploring the historic centre is best for cultural immersion, with many cafes and restaurants to enjoy, local people to watch and beautiful natural parks in which to relax. However, the most special thing to do in Plzeň is visiting the Pilsner Urquell Brewery where visitors can learn about its history, the technique of its creation, why this golden lager has had such international success in addition to trying some of the beer first-hand. Another unique feature of the city is its abundance amazing festivals with a range of cultural events that highlight not only the beer but street food, lights, classical music, national liberation, folklore, theatre and Christmas ones, all of which are a perfect way to experience local culture.
Inside the city, there is a large connected network of buses and trams, run by the local transport system, which is affordable and easy to use. Travelling to and from Plzeň is also straightforward, as the D5 highway, connecting Prague with Nuremberg, is accessible from the city. There is an airport 11km south-west of the city in the village of Líně. Alternatively, Prague is only an hour and a half away with trains leaving every hour.
Plzeň is a distinctly unique city, yet well connected to the rest of Europe, making it not only a significant, central place for the Czech Republic, but also for the whole continent. The history of its beer is tied up with German routes, as the brewer Josef Groll who created it in 1842, was from Bavaria. With a rich history beginning in the 10th century, Plzeň is now a source of culture and beauty in the Czech Republic and surrounding Europe.