HistoryAndBeer Tour 2014: Plzeň

Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter break was coming. BW wanted to visit the Pilsner Urquell Brewery. I wanted to delve into some WWII history. So we compromised and concocted a "HistoryAndBeer" roadtrip to suit both of us. 

The first leg was to Plzeň, which was described in our Rough Guide to The Czech & Slovak Republics as "a city build on beer and bombs" with an "overwhelmingly industrial character" and a church with a "bile green" spire. Not exactly tempting, but as Plzeň is the home to the Czech Republic's largest brewery and I'd had a nice visit there years before with a Czech friend, we made the trip.

We found the city to be bona fide likeable and saw as much as we could, from Europe's second biggest synagogue to the view from the top of the tower on St. Bartholomew's Church. And we got plenty of WWII history and beer. Read below...

Easter markets on the city square

The Great Synagogue, in Moorish Revival style

More city square

St. Bartholomew's and the bile green spire

View from the top of St. Bart's

Plzeň is the birthplace of pilsner beer, and it's been brewing the golden stuff for over 170 years. The  Pilsner Urquell brewery was fascinating and enormous; it puts out 240,000 bottles and cans of beer an hour and we had to take a bus to get around it. Pilsner Urquell is the most widely-drunk beer in the Czech Republic and can be found across the globe. We were told on the tour that nine out of ten beers produced and consumed in the world were derived from this beer's original recipe. 

BW at the gates of beer mecca

Me and a gigantic label

One of five bottling lines

Copper mash kettles 
Unfiltered Pilsner Urquell straight from the wooden barrel at the end of the tour

A final look back at the brewery grounds

Everything was historic in Plzeň, but we focused on learning about the liberation of Western Bohemia from the Nazis in WWII. Thus, we visited the General Patton Memorial Museum and learned about how Patton's Third Army attacked the Škoda car-turned-Nazi munitions plant in Plzeň and then rolled their tanks into the city center to be met by thousands of cheering civilians bearing flowers and the local brew. Since the fall of Communism, an annual Liberation Festival has been held and many American veterans have traveled here to attend it.

A very well-constructed exhibit!

A mini liberation

BW by the bust of Col. Charles Noble, who led the American troops of the 16th Armored Division into Plzen

Relics from soldiers' packs

Part of the exhibit focused on the Communists' propaganda efforts to downplay the American military's role in liberating Plzen. Note that this section was set up in an iron cage.

Photo of the Americans entering central Plzen

A retro Army surgical kit

Life-sized gal in traditional Czech costume and U.S. military men

We also visited a related memorial a few blocks away. 

It had all 50 states

"Diky Ameriko!" = "Thank You America!"


  1. Glad you enjoyed your visit to Plzeň. Whilst I personally prefer numerous other Czech beers to Pilsner Urquell, I have say that the their brewery tour is by far the best I've experienced in the Czech Republic. See the second part of http://rickyyates.com/football-and-beer/ . Plzeň is on my list of places to re-visit as I only saw the synagogue in fading light & haven't explored any of the WW2 sights. The suppression by the communist authorities, of any mention of the liberation of western Bohemia by General Patton's American troops, is a fascinating tale of their attempt to amend history, which like all such attempts, ultimately failed.

  2. I tried posting replies from my iPad on the road, but apparently it didn't work! Anyhow, yes, I highly recommend the WWII sights; Plzen has done a nice job with them. Now I'm excited to attend a football game, thanks to your post!


Thanks for taking the time to comment!

where to find me

Popular Posts

Czechesotans © . QUINN CREATIVES .