Plzen, Czech Republic

by - January 10, 2011

Thursday 6th January 2011

Plzen town centre - with half a man who ruined my panorama
Train journey to Plzen
On our last full day we decided to venture out of Prague again.  This involved me looking at a lot of rail timetables and finding where we could travel to and from in a day.  We eventually settled on the town of Plzen, about 2 hours south west of Prague by train.  It is the fourth biggest city in the Czech Republic and is most famous for being the town that Pilsener, the world’s first lager.  This started with a wonderful train journey, where the line snaked through a canyon beside a river.  Unfortunately, as seems to be the case with most trains in Central Europe, the windows were dirty and it was difficult to get any good photos.  I guess this is the best of the bunch.

Lunch in Plzen with a Pilsener

We didn't really know what to expect in Plzen - lonely planet didn’t really elaborate much on the sites.  Upon arrival it turned out that the city was trying to be European Capital of Culture for 2015, so we expected there to be a lot to see.  Our first stop after a long journey was the local beer hall, where we had the compulsory Pilsener Urquell beer.  The food was traditional and served on a wooden board which had been crafted to include the beer mat - a typical thing to do for such a beer based town.  I was able to look at the map of the town I had picked up and found out that it isn’t only the brewery that it’s famous for.  It also contains the third largest synagogue in the entire world - behind only Jerusalem and Budapest.  However, beyond that, it didn’t seem like we would be able to spend much time there.
Plzen Synagogue

Willing to give the town a chance though, we headed from the beer hall towards the town centre.  This was tough in itself though because, just like Kutna Hora, the roads were really icy.  From the beer hall we headed to the synagogue, via the town square.  Despite being the third largest in the world, the synagogue was closed - so with no other major sites we headed back for the station.  There was nothing particularly impressive or bloggable about the town - I am struggling to find stuff to write about.  On the way back to the station we saw the old Brewery Gate where the horse and carts used to enter the city with kegs of beer.  There was a Pilsen museum, but we didn’t really have time for it, without missing the only train to Prague with a reasonable time.  It was worth going to Plzen - to say that we have been there, but it felt a bit like we had spent 4 hours on a train for the sake of a beer.  It is definitely somewhere to go to on your way through the Czech Republic, but possibly not somewhere to base a trip around.  Unless you are a real beer fan.
Brewery Gate, Plzen

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