28 February 2015

pilzen - the european capital of culture


Fotogalerie k volnému využití

Have you thought about a short break trip this year? Its a trend that is now as popular and relevant as a main holiday these days. Jetting off for a short break away from the humdrum of modern life. Well may I suggest a place for you if still unsure? Lying in the West of the Czech Republic - Pilsen is a city that is putting itself firmly on the European map due to it being the European Capital of Culture 2015. I am a bit bias in recommending it as I once lived near there in a small village called Plasy and had some wonderful experiences. So today's post is a snapshot guide to this lesser known Czech gem, which is now vying for tourist trade among the more famous Czech cities of choice.  


Hidden City?  
Pilzen is easily accessed from the Czech Capital by road or rail (about an 1 hour drive) and is nestled in the West Bohemia region, close to the German border. The city is surrounded by bountiful amounts of woodland and picturesque hills, and has a population of around 170,000. Its a city that is once more attracting visitors because of its vibrancy, youthfulness and wonderful hospitality. Have I mentioned beer yet? 

Fotogalerie k volnému využití

So what does it offer? Well it's centrepiece is St Bartholomew's Cathedral and Republic Square, where major events take place and people gather in the cafes and bars. It's complemented by having modern, futuristic fountains (see the image above). Gothic meets modernist attitudes perhaps? Climb up the cathedrals tower to give you a panoramic view of the square, the city and woodlands beyond.

Wandering the streets
When I lived there I enjoyed nothing more than wandering around the streets, frequenting the cafes and bars. I will never forget seeing people drinking large glasses of beer for breakfast! The city also boasts some fabulous gardens, a perfect place to relax on a summers day. Hidden alleyways and majestic buildings like the Great Synagogue, theatre and the railway station add grandeur and aesthetic pleasure to your wandering eye. Is it me or is there something special about busy, bustling railway stations, especially traditional, old style European ones? 

How to Enjoy Pilsen at the Weekend during the Festival of Lights?
Looking towards Pilzen centre
Beer, beer If there is one place to visit that should not be missed then it's the cities most famous export and attraction; The Brewery. Who hasn't heard of Pilsner Urquell? Pilzen of course is the home of beer and the brewery tour is a must, as is a drink or three of the amber nectar in the brewery bar afterwards. The best beer in the world? Probably. Lets debate about that. To throw my pennies worth in. When I lived there I did comparison tests of various Czech beers from different regions (like you do!) and always came back to Pilsner Urquell. 

Beyond the beer halls
Pilzen offers so much more besides. Exciting night life, from beer halls to bars, cinemas to museums. Sport is also extremely important. Viktoria Plzen are the local football team and have in recent times become very successful, we're talking Champions League standard. Ice hockey is also popular. Basically it has something for everyone, whether young or old, keen on design or history, food or drink. 

So there you are, brief but hopefully its wetted your appetite. Hopefully I'll do some more in-depth analysis in future posts? But take it from me, spend a weekend here and you won't be disappointed. I promise.

Footnote:  

My thanks goes to brilliant marketing team (Helena, thank you) from the Visit Plzen site for use of the pictures and advice. (The last time I visited Pilzen digital cameras were just a distant idea!) 

The link to their website is given below which gives you a comprehensive guide to the events taking place this year. So please take a look.
http://www.pilsen.eu/en/tourist/


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