Historic 16th-century architecture surrounds Pilsner Urquell brewery

Pilsen's City Hall is located in Republic Square, the largest square in Europe.


By IMMANUEL JOHNSON | Stars and Stripes | Published: February 13, 2020

You may know Pilsen in the Czech Republic as the birthplace of light, golden pils beer and the home of the Pilsner Urquell brewery, but there are other things to do in this town than just drink a good brew.

For a start, you could visit Republic Square, one of the largest squares in Europe. There, you’ll find the cathedral of St. Bartholomew, Pilsen’s 16th-century city hall, and, at the right time during winter, a Christmas market.

The cathedral dominates the landscape in Pilsen with its 337-foot spire, the tallest in the Czech Republic. Inside, the Pilsen Madonna graces the main altar, while outside, there’s a statue depicting Jesus on the Mount of Olives, protected by angels who, local legend has it, will grant you one wish.

Near the cathedral is City Hall, a renaissance jewel built between 1554 and 1559. Special exhibitions are held in the lobby, and in a room behind that, there’s a scale model of Pilsen center as it was in days of yore. Both are open and accessible free of charge from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.

Also in the square is the Plague Column, by local sculptor Kristian Widman. The column dates back to 1681, when it was erected to give thanks for the fact that the plague didn’t come to the city.

But even with all that history and architecture to marvel at, the jewel in the crown of this city is, to my mind, the Pilsner Urquell brewery.

Tours of the brewery are offered in Czech, English, German and Russian and last around two hours. The brewery also offers workshops — there’s currently one on how to correctly pull a draft pils. Many, if not all, of the tours include tastings at the end for those 18 and older.

Tour sizes are limited, so it’s best to make reservations in advance.

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DIRECTIONS: Pilsen is about 90 minutes east of Grafenwoehr. To get to the brewery, put Plzensky Prazdroj in your GPS. The brewery is also a five-minute walk from the main train station.

TIMES: The brewery is open daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. from April to September, and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. from October to March.

COSTS: The cost of tours varies. To reserve a spot on a tour, email reservations@asahibeer.cz. (Yes, that’s the Japanese Asahi Breweries. They bought Pilsner Urquell in 2016.)

INFORMATION: More information about Pilsen in general is online atpilsen.eu/tourist. For brewery tours and information, go toprazdrojvisit.cz/en.

The outside of the Pilsner Urquell brewery in Pilsen, Czech Republic.

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