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Plzeň ( ; ) is a city in western Bohemia in the Czech Republicmarker. It is the capital of the Plzeň Region and the fourth most populous city in the Czech Republic. It is located about 90 km west of Praguemarker at the confluence of four rivers (Radbuza, Mže, Úhlavamarker, and Úslavamarker) which form the Berounka River.

Plzeň is also the seat of the Municipality with Extended Competence and Municipality with Commissioned Local Authority. The city is known worldwide for Pilsener beer.

History

Plzeň was first mentioned as a castle in 976, as the scene of a battle between Duke Boleslaus II of Bohemia and Emperor Otto II. It became a town in 1295 when King Wenceslaus II granted Plzeň its civic charter as a special "Royal City" and established a new town site, located some 10 km away from the original settlement, which is the current town of Starý Plzenec. It quickly became an important town on trade routes leading to Nurembergmarker and Regensburgmarker; in the 14th century, it was the third-largest town in Bohemia after Praguemarker and Kutná Horamarker. 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 Romanist nobles against King George of Podebrady. In 1468, the town acquired a printing press; the Troyan Chronicle, the first book published in Bohemia, was printed on it.

Emperor Rudolf II made Plzeň his seat from 1599-1600. During the Thirty Years' War the town was taken by Mansfeld in 1618 after the Siege of Plzeň and it was not recaptured by the Imperial troops until 1621. Wallenstein made it his winter-quarters in 1633. The town was unsuccessfully besieged by the Swedes in 1637 and 1648. The town and region have been staunchly Roman Catholic despite the Hussite Wars.

At the end of the 17th century, the architecture of Plzeň began to be influenced by the Baroque style. The historic city center has been under historic preservation since 1989.

In the second half of the 19th Century Pilsen, already an important trade centre for Bohemia, near the Bavarianmarker/Germanmarker border, began to rapidly industrialise. In 1869 Emil Škoda started up the Škoda Works : this 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. The second largest employer in this period was, after 1898, 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 Pilsen railway junction has been 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 (Slavic) population and the urban poor. Before 1860 the town was mostly German-speaking; after 1918 it was mostly Czech speaking. However much of the countryside to the west, north and south of the town continued to speak a local Germanmarker dialect.

Following Czechoslovak independence from Austria-Hungary in 1918 the German-speaking minority in the region were unhappy with their change of status and unwisely allied themselves to the Nazi cause after 1933. In 1938 Pilsen became literally a frontier town, briefly, after the creation of the Sudetenland moved the Third Reich borders to the city's outer limits. During the Nazi occupation from 1939 to 1945 the Škoda Works in Pilsen was forced to work for the benefit of the Reich armaments and Czech contributions, particularly in the field of tanks, was noted.

The German population was driven out of the city and region after the end of war in 1945 according to the Potsdam agreement.

On May 6, 1945, at the very end of World War II, Plzeň was liberated from Nazi Germany by the 16th Armored Division of General Patton's 3rd Army. Also participating in the liberation of the city were elements of the 97th and 2nd Infantry Divisions. Other Third Army units liberated major portions of Western Bohemia. The rest of Czechoslovakiamarker was liberated from German control by the Sovietmarker Red Army. Elements of Third Army remained in Plzen until late November 1945 assisting the Czechs with re-building from the war. After seizing power in 1948, the Communists undertook a systematic campaign to suppress all acknowledgement of the U.S. Army's role in liberating the city and Western Bohemia. This effort continued until 1989 when the Communists were removed from power. Since 1990, the city of Plzen has organized annual Liberation Festival taking place in May, which has already become a local tradition, and has been attended by many American and Allied veterans.

After the Communist takeover of February 1948, the totalitarian, Soviet-oriented Czechoslovak government launched a currency reform in 1953. This decision caused a wave of discontent throughout the society, while the events in Plzeň were more intense. On 1 June 1953 over 20,000 people, mainly workers of the Škoda Works began demonstrating against the communist regime. Demonstrators forced their way into the town hall and threw communist symbols, furniture and other objects out the windows. From the afternoon, the demonstration was violently suppressed by the communist officials.

Education and economy

Plzeň is a centre of academic, business, and cultural life for the western part of the Czech Republic. The University of West Bohemia in Plzeň is well known for its School of Law, School of Mechanical Engineering and School of Applied Science in particular.

Since the second half of the 1990s the city has experienced high growth in foreign investments. In 2007, Israeli mall developer Plaza Centers opened the Pilsen Plaza, a 20,000 square meters shopping mall and entertainment center featuring a multiplex cinema from Cinema City Czech Republic.

Plzeň produces approximately two-thirds of the Plzeň Region GDP, even though it contains only 29.8% of its population. [6409] 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 (people who work in the city, but live elsewhere) it is one of the most prosperous cities in the Czech Republic.

The Škoda company, established in Plzeň in 1859, has been an important part of the Austro-Hungarian, Czechoslovak and Czech engineering. The company's production had been directed to the needs of the Eastern Bloc, and after the Velvet Revolution, it consequently ran into selling problems and debts. After huge restructuring process it has just two principal subsidiaries: Škoda Transportation (locomotives, tube-trains or trams, since sold to Portlandmarker, Tacomamarker, Seattlemarker and Sardinia) and Škoda Power (turbines).

Many foreign companies now own manufacturing bases in Plzeň including Daikin and Panasonic. There has been much discussion of redeveloping those large areas of the Škoda plant which the company no longer uses.

Plzeň also has the biggest brewery (Pilsner Urquell) and the biggest distillery (Stock) in the Czech Republic. The former has given a name to an entire beer style (specifically, a pale lager), the Pilsener, arguably the world's most popular style.

Tourism

The most prominent sights of Plzeň are the Gothic St. Bartholomew's Cathedralmarker, founded in the late 13th century, the tower of which (102.26 m / 335 ft) is the highest in the Czech Republic, the Renaissance Town Hall, and the Moorish Revival Great Synagogue in Pilsenmarker, the second largest synagogue in Europe, after the Dohány Street Synagoguemarker in Budapestmarker. There is also a 20 km historic underground tunnel/cellar network, among the longest in Central Europe. Part of this network is open to the public for tours of approximately 750 metres in length and up to a depth of 12 metres.

Plzeň is also well-known for the Pilsner Urquell (since 1842) and Gambrinus (since 1869) breweries, currently owned by South African Breweries. A popular tourist attraction is the Plzeňský Prazdroj brewery tour where visitors can discover the history of beer. The pilsener style of beer was developed in Plzeň in the 19th century.

Dioceses

Since 31 May 1993 Pilsen has been the seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pilsen. The first and incumbent Bishop is Frantisek Radkovský. The diocese covers almost the entire territory of Pilsen region with a total of 818,700 inhabitants. The Diocese office is in St. Bartholomew's Cathedral on the Republic Square in Pilsen. The diocese is divided into 10 vicariates with a total of 72 parishes.

Transport

Image:Skoda03T_Plzen.|One of the modern trams operating in Plzeň.Image:Skoda05T_Plzen.jpg|One of Škoda's prototype trams is tested on the tram network in Plzeň.Image:T14 1.JPG|Another Škoda prototype being tested.

The Plzeň metropolitan area is largely served by a network of trams and buses operated by the PMDP. Like other continental European cities, tickets bought from vending machines or small shops are valid for any transportation ran 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.

Plzeň is important center of Czech railway transport, crossing of 5 main railway lines:

Sport

Renaissance Town Hall


The Great Synagogue




Notable people



Twin cities

Plzeň is twinned with the following cities:

Notes

External links




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