Coordinates: 49°44′51″N 13°22′39″E / 49.74750°N 13.37750°E / 49.74750; 13.37750
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From top: Republic Square; Cathedral of St. Bartholomew; Renaissance City hall, Great Synagogue; Techmania Science Center; Lochotín park, New Theatre; Prazdroj brewery gate; and brewery water tower.
From top: Republic Square; Cathedral of St. Bartholomew; Renaissance City hall, Great Synagogue; Techmania Science Center; Lochotín park, New Theatre; Prazdroj brewery gate; and brewery water tower.
Flag of Plzeň
Coat of arms of Plzeň
Plzeň is located in Czech Republic
Location in the Czech Republic
Coordinates: 49°44′51″N 13°22′39″E / 49.74750°N 13.37750°E / 49.74750; 13.37750
Country Czech Republic
First mentioned976
 • MayorRoman Zarzycký (ANO)
 • Total137.65 km2 (53.15 sq mi)
310 m (1,020 ft)
 • Total185,599
 • Density1,300/km2 (3,500/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+2 (CEST)
Postal codes
301 00 – 326 00

Plzeň (Czech pronunciation: [ˈpl̩zɛɲ] ), also known in English and German as Pilsen (German: [ˈpɪlzn̩] ), is a city in the Czech Republic. About 78 kilometres (48 miles) west of Prague in western Bohemia, it is the fourth most populous city in the Czech Republic with about 186,000 inhabitants, and about 323,184 people in its urban area.[2]

Founded as a royal city in the late 13th century, Plzeň became an important town for trade on routes linking Bohemia with Bavaria. By the 14th century it had grown to be the third largest city in Bohemia. The city was besieged three times during the 15th-century Hussite Wars, when it became a centre of resistance against the Hussites. During the Thirty Years War in the early 17th century the city was temporarily occupied after the Siege of Plzeň.

In the 19th century, the city rapidly industrialised and became home to the Škoda Works, which became one of the most important engineering companies in Austria-Hungary and later in Czechoslovakia. The city is known worldwide as the home of Pilsner beer, created by Bavarian brewer Josef Groll in the city in 1842; today, the Pilsner Urquell Brewery is the largest brewery in the Czech Republic.

Plzeň serves as the main business centre of West Bohemia and the capital of the Plzeň Region. The city is a cultural heritage zone known for its Baroque architecture, and was European Capital of Culture in 2015. Plzeň is home to football club FC Viktoria Plzeň, one of the most successful clubs in the Czech league, and ice hockey club HC Škoda Plzeň.

Administrative division[edit]

Plzeň is divided into ten boroughs,[3] which are further divided into 25 administrative parts (in brackets):[4]

  • Plzeň 1-Bolevec (Bolevec and Severní Předměstí)
  • Plzeň 2-Slovany (Božkov, Černice (partly), Doudlevce (partly), Hradiště, Koterov, Lobzy (partly) and Východní Předměstí (partly))
  • Plzeň 3-Bory (Doudlevce (partly), Jižní Předměstí, Litice (partly), Nová Hospoda, Radobyčice, Skvrňany, Valcha, Vnitřní Město and Východní Předměstí (partly))
  • Plzeň 4-Doubravka (Bukovec, Červený Hrádek, Doubravka, Lobzy (partly), Újezd and Východní Předměstí (partly))
  • Plzeň 5-Křimice (Křimice)
  • Plzeň 6-Litice (Litice (partly))
  • Plzeň 7-Radčice (Radčice)
  • Plzeň 8-Černice (Černice (partly))
  • Plzeň 9-Malesice (Dolní Vlkýš and Malesice)
  • Plzeň 10-Lhota (Lhota)


Chlum, the highest point in Plzeň

Plzeň is located about 78 km (48 mi) west of Prague.[5] The city is situated at the confluences of four rivers: Mže, Úhlava, Úslava and Radbuza. From the confluence of the Mže and Radbuza, the river is known as the Berounka. Plzeň lies mostly in the Plasy Uplands, with small parts of the municipal territory extending into the Švihov Highlands to the east and south. The highest point is the hill Chlum at 416 m (1,365 ft) above sea level. The lowest point is the river bed of the Berounka at 293 m (961 ft).[6] The largest body of water is the České údolí Reservoir, built on the Radbuza. A system of ponds is located on the northern edge of the city.


Plzeň has a cool and temperate Oceanic climate (Cfb). Plzeň has low rainfall (604 mm (24 in) year average) evenly spread over the year. Precipitation occurs on average every second day, and the number of days with thunderstorms is 19. It receives on average 1,700 hours of sunshine though winters have longer periods without sunshine. Terrain features and a relatively low altitude (290 to 390 m (950 to 1,280 ft)) give some shelter from strong winds.[citation needed]

Winters are chilly but milder than some adjacent areas. Snow cover is erratic and lasts on average for 51 days. Though an average year has 113 days with minimum temperature below zero, the temperature falls below −15 °C (5 °F) on 5 days. The record low temperatures is around −20 °C (−4 °F). Winters are often murky with frequent long-standing haze. Spring is short, and in April to June there is blooming vegetation. Summer lasts from the end of May until the first third of September. During that period Plzeň has changeable weather which can be warm to hot. Temperatures are always above 5 degrees Celsius with nights between 8 and 18 °C (46 and 64 °F) and days between 16 and 35 °C (61 and 95 °F). Days are up to 16 hours long.[citation needed]

Plzeň can be hot, especially during heat waves originating in the southern Mediterranean. The number of hot days above 30 °C (86 °F) is steadily growing, with 5 months (late April – early September) of possible 30+ °C days. If hot weather does occur, it is often changes after a few weeks into cold and rainy weather with incoming Atlantic-based fronts. Nights can be unpleasantly cold even in summer, with high level of humidity. Winter frosts frequently occur from the second half of November to the end of March. February is the driest month with 32 mm (1.3 in) of precipitation, and July the wettest with 80 mm (3.1 in). The only natural hazards are occasional fast changes of weather with negative consequences, e.g. floodings.

Extreme values for years 2011 and 2012: An extremely cold day of 2011 had −7.6 °C (18.3 °F) on average (23 February), −0.7 to −13.3 °C (30.7 to 8.1 °F) and extremely hot day 25.2 °C (77.4 °F) on average (24 August, 19.5 to 32.8 °C (67.1 to 91.0 °F). The year 2012 had the coldest day on 12 February with minimum plummeting to −22.1 °C (−7.8 °F) and maximum around −3.7 °C (25.3 °F) with average −14.9 °C (5.2 °F). The hottest day of 2012 occurred on 21 August with daily maximum temperature 33.9 °C (93.0 °F) and minimum staying on 19.4 °C (66.9 °F) with all day average on 25.5 °C (77.9 °F). Absolute minimum and maximum for both years were −22.1 °C (−7.8 °F) (February 2012) and 37.4 °C (99.3 °F) during August 2012.[citation needed]

Number of rainy/snowy days for 2011: 78; number of days with frost: 76; number of days with minimal temperatures below −10 °C (14 °F): 12; number of days with average temperature below zero: 35; number of days with daily average temperature higher than 10 °C (50 °F): 188; number of days with daily average higher than 20 °C (68 °F): 32. Total amount of precipitation for year 2011: 529.1 mm (20.83 in); average year humidity value: 80.8%. Maximal temperature: 33.3 °C (91.9 °F); minimal temperature −14.8 °C (5.4 °F). Average 2011 temperature: 9.7 °C (49 °F); average speed of wind: 4.7 km/h (2.9 mph), mainly from SSE.

Number of days with frost was 96 during year 2012; 18 days had minima below −10 °C (14 °F) and 165 days with an average temperature on or above 10.0 °C (50.0 °F). Number of days with maxima on or above 20.0 °C (68.0 °F) was 42.

Climate data for Plzeň (1981–2010 normals)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 16
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 2.0
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) −3.1
Record low °C (°F) −24
Average precipitation mm (inches) 28.5
Average precipitation days (≥ 1mm) 8.1 7.1 7.7 7.8 10.0 11.0 11.1 10.1 7.8 7.1 8.2 8.1 104.1
Source 1: World Meteorological Organization[7]
Source 2: [8]


Middle Ages[edit]

Plzeň was first mentioned as a castle in 976, as the scene of a battle between Duke Boleslaus II the Pious of Bohemia and Emperor Otto II. It became a town in 1295 when King Wenceslaus II granted Plzeň its civic charter as a "Royal City" and established a new town site, some 10 km (6 mi) away from the original settlement, which is the current town of Starý Plzenec. It quickly became an important town on trade routes leading to Nuremberg and Regensburg; in the 14th century, it was the third-largest town in Bohemia after Prague and Kutná Hora.

During the Hussite Wars, it was the centre of Catholic resistance to the Hussites: Prokop the Great unsuccessfully besieged it three times, and it joined the league of Catholic nobles against King George of Poděbrady. In 1468, the town acquired a printing press; the Trojan Chronicle (Czech: Kronika trojánská), the first book published in Bohemia, was printed on it.

17th century[edit]

Engraving of Plzeň from 1602

Emperor Rudolf II made Plzeň his seat from 1599 to 1600. During the Thirty Years' War the town was taken by Mansfeld in 1618 after the Siege of Plzeň and it was not recaptured by Imperial troops until 1621. Wallenstein made it his winter quarters in 1633. Accused of treason and losing the support of his army, he fled the town on 23 February 1634 to Eger/Cheb where he was assassinated two days later. The town was increasingly threatened by the Swedes in the last years of the war. The city commander Jan van der Croon strengthened the fortifications of Plzeň from 1645 to 1649. Swedish troops passed the town in 1645 and 1648 without attacking it. The town and region have been staunchly Catholic despite the Hussite Wars.[9]

From the end of the 17th century, the architecture of Plzeň has been influenced by the Baroque style. The city centre has been under cultural heritage preservation since 1989.

19th century[edit]

In the second half of the 19th century Plzeň, already an important trade centre for Bohemia, near the Bavarian/German border, began to industrialise rapidly. In 1869 Emil Škoda founded the Škoda Works, which became the most important and influential engineering company in the country and a crucial supplier of arms to the Austro-Hungarian Army. By 1917 the Škoda Works employed over 30,000 workers.

Plzeň in the interbellum

After 1898 the second largest employer was the National Railways train workshop, with about 2,000 employees: this was the largest rail repair shop in all Austria-Hungary. Between 1861 and 1877, the Plzeň railway junction was completed and in 1899 the first tram line started in the city. This burst of industry had two important effects: the growth of the local Czech population and of the urban poor. After 1868 the first Czech mayor of the city was elected.

World War II[edit]

Following Czechoslovak independence from Austria-Hungary in 1918 the German-speaking minority in the countryside bordering the city of Plzeň hoped to be united with Austria and were unhappy at being included in Czechoslovakia. Many allied themselves to the Nazis after 1933 in the hope that Adolf Hitler might be able to unite them with their German-speaking neighbours.

Following the Munich Agreement in 1938, Plzeň became literally a frontier town; the creation of the Sudetenland moved Nazi Germany's borders to the city's outer limits. During the German occupation from 1939 to 1945, the Škoda Works in Pilsen was forced to provide armaments for the Wehrmacht, and Czech contributions, particularly in the field of tanks, were noted. The Germans operated a Gestapo prison in the city,[10] and a forced labour camp in the Karlov district.[11]

Between 17 and 26 January 1942, over 2,000 Jewish inhabitants, most of Plzeň's Jewish population, were deported by the Nazis to the Theresienstadt concentration camp.

Memorial to the 16th Armored Division of the United States Army at the top of Americká, the main commercial boulevard

On 6 May 1945, in the final days before the end of World War II in Europe, Plzeň was liberated from Nazi Germany by the 16th Armored Division of General George Patton's 3rd Army. Also participating in the liberation of the city were elements of the 97th and 2nd Infantry Divisions supported by the Polish Holy Cross Mountains Brigade. Other Third Army units liberated major portions of Western Bohemia. The rest of Czechoslovakia was liberated from German control by the Soviet Red Army. Elements of the 3rd Army, as well as units from the 1st Army, remained in Plzeň until late November 1945.

The German-speaking population was expelled from the city after the end of the war in 1945, according to the provisions of the Potsdam Agreement. All of their property was confiscated.

Communist era[edit]

After the 1948 Czechoslovak coup d'état, the government launched a currency reform in 1953, which caused a wave of discontent, including the Plzeň uprising. On 1 June 1953, over 20,000 people, mainly workers at the Škoda Works, began protesting against the government. Protesters forced their way into the town hall and threw communist symbols, furniture and other objects out of the windows. The protest caused a retaliation from the government. As part of its retaliation, they destroyed the statue of Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk. The statue has since been re-erected.

The next year, a West German homing pigeon was lost near the Czechoslovak border. It returned two days later, bearing a strong anticommunist message, signed "Unbowed Pilsen." The bird, named Leaping Lena, was taken to the United States, where it was celebrated as a Cold War hero.[12][13][14]


Historical population
Source: Censuses[15][16]


Plzeň is a centre of business in the western part of the Czech Republic.

Since the late 1990s the city has experienced high growth in foreign investment. In 2007, Israeli mall developer Plaza Centers opened the Pilsen Plaza, a 20,000 m2 (220,000 sq ft) shopping mall and entertainment centre featuring a multiplex cinema from Cinema City Czech Republic.

Plzeň produces about two-thirds of the Plzeň Region GDP, even though it contains only 29.8% of its population.[17] Based on these figures, the city of Plzeň has a total GDP of approximately $7.2 billion, and a per capita GDP of $44,000. While part of this is explained by commuters to the city, it is one of the most prosperous cities in the Czech Republic.

The Škoda company, established in Plzeň in 1859, has been an important element of Austro-Hungarian, Czechoslovak and Czech engineering, and one of the biggest European arms factories. During the Communist era (1948–1989) the company's production had been directed to the needs of the Eastern Bloc. Disarray in the era after the Velvet Revolution, and unsuccessful efforts to gain new Western markets, resulted in sales problems and debts. After a huge restructuring process, the company was divided into several subsidiaries, which were later sold. The most important successors companies are Škoda Transportation and Doosan Škoda Power.[18]

Many foreign companies now have manufacturing bases in Plzeň, including Daikin, Hisense and Panasonic. The software provider company ZF Openmatics was founded and is headquartered in this city. There has been much discussion of redeveloping those large areas of the Škoda plant which the company no longer uses.

Stock, located in the Božkov district, is the biggest distillery in the Czech Republic.

Pilsner beer[edit]

Traditional fermenting building (centre) and modern fermenting building (left)
Pilsner Urquell

Plzeň is well known for the Pilsner Urquell (since 1842) and Gambrinus (since 1869) breweries, currently owned by Asahi Group Holdings.

Plzeň is an important city in the history of beer, including the development of Pilsner.[19] In 1375, Bohemian King Charles IV endowed the Dobrow Monastery near Plzeň with the beer right, and it is one of the oldest breweries to survive to modern times.[20][21] Many breweries were located in the interconnected deep cellars of the city.[22][23]

The officials of Plzeň founded a city-owned brewery in 1839, Bürger Brauerei (Citizens' Brewery, now Plzeňský Prazdroj),[24] and recruited Bavarian brewer Josef Groll (1813–1887) who produced the first batch of modern Pilsner beer on 5 October 1842. This included mastering the art of triple decoction mashing.[19] The combination of pale colour from the new malts, Plzeň's remarkably soft water, Saaz noble hops from nearby Žatec (Saaz in German) and Bavarian-style lagering produced a clear, golden beer which was regarded as a sensation. Improving transport meant that this new beer was soon available throughout Central Europe and Pilsner Brauart-style brewing was widely imitated.

In 1859, "Pilsner Bier" was registered as a brand name at the Chamber of Commerce and Trade in Plzeň. In 1898, the Pilsner Urquell trade mark was created to put emphasis on this being the brewery where the style originated.


EVO2 tram in Plzeň
Plzeň main railway station

Trams, trolleybuses and buses[edit]

The Plzeň metropolitan area is largely served by a network of trams, trolleybuses and buses operated by the PMDP. Like other continental European cities, tickets bought from vending machines or small shops are valid for any transport run by the city of Plzeň. For residents of the city, a Plzeň Card can be purchased and through a system of "topping up" be used on any public transport with no limitations, as long as it is paid up and valid. Tickets can be purchased in vehicles with a contactless smart card.[25]


Plzeň is an important centre of Czech railway transport, with the crossing of five main railway lines:

Plzeň main railway station (Plzeň hlavní nádraží) serves all five of these lines.


The most important transport link in the city is the D5 highway connecting Prague and Nuremberg.


A public domestic and private international airport is located 11 km south-west from Plzeň, at the nearby village of Líně.


Great Synagogue in Plzeň

Since 31 May 1993 Plzeň has been the seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Plzeň. The first bishop (current bishop emeritus) was František Radkovský. The current bishop is Tomáš Holub. The diocese covers an area with a total of 818,700 inhabitants.[citation needed] The diocesan see is in St. Bartholomew's Cathedral on Republiky Square in Plzeň. The diocese is divided into 10 vicariates with a total of 72 parishes.

The seat of the West Bohemian seniorate (literary presbytery; Central European protestant equivalent of a diocese) of Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren is currently set in Plzeň. The current senior is Miroslav Hamari, the preacher of Koranda parish congregation of the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren in Plzeň, commonly known as Koranda congregation located in the city centre of Plzeň. The senioral churchwarden is Josef Beneš, the parish churchwarden of the same congregation. There are two other parish congregations of Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren in the Plzeň-City District – The Western congregation of the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren in Plzeň, known as The Western congregation located in the Western part of the city in the borough of Jižní předměstí and The Congregation of the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren in Chrást located in Chrást in the very east of Plzeň-City District.

The seat of Plzeň diocese of the Czechoslovak Hussite Church is located in Plzeň (although the bishop has resided in Mirovice for several years due to a reconstruction of episcopacy). The current bishop is Filip Štojdl.

The Czech Evangelical Lutheran Church is headquartered in Plzeň.[26] St. Paul's Lutheran Church is a church of the Czech Evangelical Lutheran Church in Plzeň.[27]

The other churches also present in Plzeň are the Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in the Czech Republic, the United Methodist Church, the Seventh-day Adventist Church, the Church of Brethren, the Orthodox Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia, the Greek Catholic Church, and others.


The University of West Bohemia in Plzeň is well known for its Faculty of Law, Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Faculty of Applied Science in particular.

Martin Luther Elementary School (Základní škola Martina Luthera) is a private Christian school of the Czech Evangelical Lutheran Church in Plzeň.[28][26]


Plzeň was a European Capital of Culture in 2015, along with Mons in Belgium.


Doosan Arena

The ice hockey club HC Škoda Plzeň plays in the Czech Extraliga. The team plays its home games at Home Monitoring Aréna. The football club FC Viktoria Plzeň plays in the Czech First League and belongs among the most successful clubs in the Czech Republic. Viktoria Plzeň has played in the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League. The team plays its home games at Doosan Arena. Handball club Talent Plzeň plays in the Czech Handball Extraliga.

The motorcycle speedway team PK Plzeň race at the Plzeň speedway track. The track has hosted significant speedway events including qualifying rounds of the Speedway World Team Cup.[29][30]


St. Bartholomew's Cathedral

The most prominent sights of Plzeň are the Gothic St. Bartholomew's Cathedral, founded in the late 13th century, whose tower, at 102 m (335 ft), is the highest in the Czech Republic, the Renaissance Town Hall, and the Moorish Revival Great Synagogue, the second largest synagogue in Europe, after the Dohány Street Synagogue in Budapest. There is also a 20 km (12 mi) historic tunnel and cellar network, among the longest in Central Europe. Part of this network is open to the public for tours of about 750 m (2,500 ft) in length and down to a depth of 12 m (39 ft).

Built in 1532, the former water tower was integrated into the city's fortification system at Prague Gate. Another storey was added in 1822 in French Imperial style. The Gothic portal dating from the 1500s and coming from another house, which had been demolished, was added in 1912. Above the portal there is a commemorative plaque dedicated to Dr Josef Škoda (a professor at the Vienna University), who was born next door on 10 December 1805.

A popular tourist attraction is the Plzeňský Prazdroj brewery tour where visitors can discover the history of beer.


Notable people[edit]

Twin towns – sister cities[edit]

Plzeň is twinned with:[32]



  1. ^ "Population of Municipalities – 1 January 2024". Czech Statistical Office. 17 May 2024.
  2. ^ "O nás | Strategie ITI". (in Czech).
  3. ^ "Městské obvody Plzeň" (in Czech). City of Plzeň. Retrieved 14 November 2023.
  4. ^ "Části obcí". Územně identifikační registr ČR (in Czech). Retrieved 14 November 2023.
  5. ^ "Distance from Motol, Prague 5 to Plzeň". Retrieved 20 October 2023.
  6. ^ "Sedm plzeňských NEJ. Hledali jsme na dně i na vrcholu" (in Czech). E15. Retrieved 23 May 2023.
  7. ^ "World Weather Information Service". World Meteorological Organization. Retrieved 10 October 2023.
  8. ^ "Climate data". Archived from the original on 22 October 2014. Retrieved 10 December 2013.
  9. ^ Mikovec, Ferdinand Břetislav (1860). Malerisch-historische Skizzen aus Böhmen (in German). Vol. 3. Wien/Olmütz: Hölzel. pp. 352–355.
  10. ^ "Gestapogefängnis Pilsen". (in German). Retrieved 7 November 2021.
  11. ^ "Arbeitserziehungslager Pilsen-Karlow". (in German). Retrieved 7 November 2021.
  12. ^ "Iron Curtain Bird Here on Crusade". The New York Times. 2 August 1954. p. 10.
  13. ^ "Heroine Pigeon Now a 'Citizen'". The New York Times. 23 August 1954. p. 19.
  14. ^ Cummings, Richard H. (2010). Radio Free Europe's "Crusade for Freedom". McFarland. pp. 116–117.
  15. ^ "Historický lexikon obcí České republiky 1869–2011 – Okres Plzeň-město" (in Czech). Czech Statistical Office. 21 December 2015. pp. 1–2.
  16. ^ "Population Census 2021: Population by sex". Public Database. Czech Statistical Office. 27 March 2021.
  17. ^ "Krajský úřad Plzeňského kraje: Základní informace o kraji". Retrieved 14 April 2011.
  18. ^ "Business Highlight". Retrieved 11 October 2023.
  19. ^ a b Hampson, Tim (2008). The Beer Book. London: Dorling Kindersley. p. 9. ISBN 978-1405333016.
  20. ^ Salem, F. W. (Frederick William) (11 October 1880). "Beer : its history and its economic value as a national beverage". Hartford, Conn. : F. W. Salem & Co. Retrieved 11 October 2023 – via Internet Archive.
  21. ^ Lehner, Ernst; Lehner, Johanna (1 January 2006). Medicinal and Food Plants: With 200 Illustrations for Artists and Craftspeople. Courier Corporation. ISBN 9780486447513. Retrieved 11 October 2023 – via Google Books.
  22. ^ "Plzen Historical Underground". Archived from the original on 30 December 2019.
  23. ^ "Pilsen Historical Underground". Atlas Obscura. Archived from the original on 8 December 2017.
  24. ^ "Plzeňský Prazdroj, a. s." Retrieved 17 October 2009.
  25. ^ Platby bezkontaktními kartami ve vozech MHD v Plzni (18 May 2016)
  26. ^ a b "Luterani CZ". Luterani CZ. Retrieved 11 October 2023.
  27. ^ "Czech Evangelical Lutheran Church". Retrieved 11 October 2023.
  28. ^ "Základní Škola Martina Luthera Plzeň". Retrieved 11 October 2023.
  29. ^ "1960 World Team Cup, Central European round". International Speedway. Retrieved 24 January 2024.
  30. ^ "1961 World Team Cup, Central European round". International Speedway. Retrieved 24 January 2024.
  31. ^ "Czech wartime RAF fighter pilot Standera dies aged 95". Czech News Agency. 20 February 2014. Retrieved 2 March 2014.
  32. ^ "Partnerská města" (in Czech). Statutární město Plzeň. Retrieved 4 June 2020.

External links[edit]