In 1295 a.d., the city of Nova Plzen (New Plzen) was founded by Czech King Wenceslas II on the confluence of the Radbuza and Mze rivers, only 9 kilometers north-west of the original Old Plzen. This occured at the crossroads of three important trade routes (Nurnberg, Regensburg and Sachsen).
New Plzen was growing very rapidly and soon became not only an important commercial center, but also the third Royal Town in Bohemia following Prague and Kutna Hora.
Plzen has preserved its prominent position among Czech towns until the present day, 700 years after its foundation. With a population of more than 165 000 it is an important cultural, economic, transport, commercial and industrial center, known primarily for the products of Plzener brewery and Skoda works.
Plzen is also considered a center of education. Besides a number of elementary and secondary schools Plzen is the home to the University of West Bohemia and the Medical Faculty of the Charles University.
What were the 700 years of its history like?
At the beginning of the 15th century, Plzen was one of the original centers of Hussite movement, but after expelling the Hussite leader Jan Zizka and his allies in 1420, it became a firm bastion of the Czech Catholic Church until the 17th century.
Rapid economic and cultural growth could be observed in the second half of the 15th century and the following 16th century, which was also the period of intensive construction.
As early as 1468 the first Czech book, the Trojanys Chronicle, was printed in Plzen. The Renaissance period, identified by lively ties with Nurnberg and Regensburg, represents a period of full bloom in Plzen's history. This period of prosperity was disturbed by the so called Thirty Years War.
In 1618 the city of Plzen was conquered for the first time in its history by protestant groups of count Arnost of Mansfeld.
A new period of growth came as late as the 19th century with the onset of Industrial Revolution. The world-known burgher, Prazdroj brewery, was founded in 1848, engineering Skoda Works were founded in 1859, and an extensive railworad network was built in the period 1861 to 1876.
Furthermore, the Grand Theatre, the West Bohemian Museum and the Jewish Synagogue date back to this period.
The city of Plzen strode into the 20th century as a developed industrial, economic and cultural city, which was soon to experience the difficult setbacks of an economic crisis and two world wars. Plzen was liberated on May 6th, 1945, by the American army led by General G. S. Patton. After that, the city, as well as the rest of the country, were to ride out more than 40 years of totalitarian communistic dominion.
The capital of West Bohemia is nowadays again a sovereign city boasting with number of historic monuments. Among them 13th century St.Bartholomew's Church, Renaissance town hall reconstructed by Italian master-builder Giovanni de Statia in the mid 16th century, the unique Brewery Museum, the historic underground with medieval cellars, Franciscan monastery and the Church of St Anna definitely rank.
All these sites make up a part of the original checker board ground plan of the historic downtown, which was declared an historic town reservation in 1989.
All visitors to Plzen and its splendid surroundings may discover a number of interesting sites, spend a pleasant vacation there and collect many unforgettable recollections and experiences.
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