PlzenCzech Republic

The birthplace of one of the most famous lagers in the world fascinates with its beer-making heritage, Gothic architecture and cultural venues.

Plzeň is best known for giving the world Pilsner. The pale lager was first brewed here in the mid-19th century. But beer is just the beginning of your adventure. There is beautiful architecture, monuments and parks to explore.

Many visitors gravitate toward the cobbled streets in and around Namesti Republiky (Republic Square), the historical center of the city. It is surrounded by Baroque and Renaissance-style historical homes and encompasses other fascinating buildings.

Climb to the top of the tower of the 14th-century St. Bartholomew’s Cathedral for stellar views over the city. Admire the Renaissance exterior of the Town Hall and stop by the Puppet Museum, where you will see some puppets that are nearly 200 years old. Nearby is the Great Synagogue, one of the largest in the world. It is trumped in size only by those in Jerusalem and Budapest.

Glean some riveting insights into Plzeň’s past by exploring the labyrinth of passageways and cellars that form Pilsen Historical Underground. Some cellars date back to the 14th century and were used for wartime shelter and to store food and beer.

Uncover more history at the Patton Memorial, a museum about the city’s liberation at the end of World War II. Unlike many Czech cities, Plzeň was liberated by American troops, not the Soviets. Delve into the city’s beer heritage during a tour of the Pilsner Urquell Brewery then bolster your newfound beer knowledge at the Brewery Museum.

Families will enjoy viewing the exotic animals of the Zoo Plzeň and the adjacent DinoPark, which also has life-size models of dinosaurs. There’s more fun for children at the Techmania Science Exhibit with its interactive displays.

For some relaxation surrounded by beautiful scenery, go to Sadový Okruh. This is a ring of parks and gardens created on the sites of the old city walls.

Plzeň can be easily reached by train from Prague and Munich. Trams and buses operate within the city, though the center is compact. Explore on foot so you can enjoy the beautiful architecture and history, and pause for a Pilsner as and when you please.

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