Established at the confluence of four rivers, royal city Plzen, has existed for 700 years and has left a heritage of remarkable scope. Thus Plzen has long been a cultural centre for the entire West Bohemia; an industrial city famous for its engineering products, its beer - the Pilsner Urquell, as well as its many historic sights, international exhibitions, symposia and festivals.
The whole town is dominated by the 103 metres high tower. Whether you come from the south or east, following this landmark you will always be guided back to town of 180,000 people. When King Wenceslas II founded Plzen in 1295, there was only 3,000 people living there. They occupied an area of about 20 hectares.
Plzen despite of being an Emperor's town was favouring Catholicism which meant it was pro-Habsburg. This belief made it relatively easy for Plzen to survive all religious conflicts until the Czech Estates uprising, followed by the Thirty Years' War. This in addition to the plague were the only events that severely afflicted the town in its history.
Within its walls, either voluntarily or by force, the town has played host to many prominent personalities of political life. It was a great honour for Plzen to welcome the Emperor Rudolf II with his visit here. A different case was the one of the leader of Czech Estates, Mansfeld who captured this town. During the Thirty Years' War the supreme commander Albrecht von Wallenstein moved here shortly before he was brutally killed by general Piccolomini in Cheb. Even later, the Russian Tzar Alexander I visited the town. The conservative attitude of Catholic Plzen has also resulted in prosperities other than economical: that was when Plzen successfully resisted the settling of Jesuits and so preserved its independence.
We should mention another historical period, the nineteenth century when Plzen tried to become a renowned spa town. However this project by burgomaster Martin Kopecky did not succeed because of the unsuitable quality of the spring. In these days, only the national park in Lochotin serves to remind us of this attempt.
The twentieth century enters Plzen as a developed industrial town with an extensive engineering industry (Skoda Works) and a famous brewery (Pilsner Urquell).
But Plzen was in for difficult times-an economic crisis and two world wars.
Plzen was liberated by the U.S.Army on the end of the Second World War.
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