Pilsen District & Bohemian Forest

Natural beauty, majestic monasteries and pilgrimage sites, castles, and industrial heritage

Pilsen District & Bohemian Forest

Pilsen District & Bohemian Forest

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Mention Pilsen, and most people will immediately think of the city’s famous ale and imagine lazy days spent in cosy pubs over a pint or two. No one can be blamed for making these associations, but it would be a shame to overlook the area’s other attractions. The Pilsen region also includes the western reaches of the Brdy Hills, the northern edge of the Šumava, the distinctive Chodsko area and the tranquil North Pilsen District, which for centuries has been farmed and developed by Cistercian monks from Plasy.

Not many people can claim to really know the slopes and peaks of the Bohemian Forest, a huge but very picturesque border area unspoilt by industry and with many kilometres of marked cycling and hiking trails. The Pilsen District is also about majestic monasteries and pilgrimage sites, castles,  chateaux, industrial heritage and famed rivers such as the Berounka,a Mecca for canoeists. At the rare water-powered smithy in Dobřív you can, with a bit of skill, gain a smith’s certificate and at Pilsen’s Techmania Science Centre you canlearn the secrets behind some of the mysteries of physics.

Pilsen
The fourth largest city in the Czech Republic, founded by King Wenceslas II in 1295, Pilsen is the cultural, political, and business centre of the entire region. The city grew out of practically nothing and its medieval grid layout around a central square was so good that to a large extent it still meets the requirements of a city in today’s world.

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The tower belonging to the Cathedral of St Bartholomew on Republiky Square is the tallest in the country (102m). Other noteworthy sights include the Great Synagogue, Pilsener Urquell Brewery including the Na Spilce beer hall, the Brewery Museum, the Techmania Science Centre, the Puppet Museum, the city’s historical underground passageways, the zoo and the Dinopark.

Great Synagogue in Plzeň
Great Synagogue in Plzeň

Rotunda of SS Peter and Paul in Starý Plzenec
This Romanesque rotunda dating from the late 10th century is the oldest surviving architectural site in the country. It stands on the site of a former royal fortress.

Rotunda of SS Peter and Paul in Starý Plzenec
Rotunda of SS Peter and Paul in Starý Plzenec

Former Benedictine Monastery in Kladruby
This monastery was founded in 1115 but in the early 18th century the complex was rebuilt in the Gothic Baroque style by the architect Jan Blažej Santini. The tour includes the Church of the Ascension, an exhibition of statues by Baroque sculptor Braun and another on John of Nepomuk

Benedictine Monastery in Kladruby
Benedictine Monastery in Kladruby

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Castles and chateaux
These are popular tourist destinations which you shouldn’t miss. For instance, why not head out to the Renaissance castle at Horšovský Týn, the chateaux at Zbiroh, Kozel, Manětín, Nebílovy and Poběžovice or the castle at Radyně. Nor should we forget the Chodský Castle in Domažlice or the Romanesque ruins of Přimda Castle.
Konstantinovy Lázně
This spa town is the smallest and most peaceful of the West Bohemian spas. The mineral-rich water here is drawn from a depth of 40m and has the highest levels of carbon dioxide of all the Czech Republic’s mineral waters
Bohemian Forest – Domažlice District
This region has two completely different faces: the almost uninhabited Bohemian Forest, and just down the road the Chodsko area, peppered with places of interest. Its remoteness lends the Bohemian Forest a special charm; the area around the Czech-German border was once a hard-to-reach, sparsely populated area, which for forty years was cut off from the outside world by the Iron Curtain. It is a mountainous area on the border stretching from the Domažlice District to the Dyleňský Forest. It is a continuation of the Šumava Mountains. In 2005 the Bohemian Forest protected area was formed, and there are several other smaller protected reserves in the area.

Pilsen District & Bohemian Forest

By bike or on foot you can spend whole days wandering along the winding forest trails into a land where, lost in the darkness of the forest undergrowth, lie the remains of once thriving villages, rural churches and cemeteries, silent reminders of a once populated area where time has stood still. Some villages have disappeared never to return; others are being slowly brought back to life – but just seeking them out is well worth the effort. If you are up for more exciting experiences, head for the Chodsko area, a place of fairy tales and traditional customs. Although physically it differs little from other areas, a strong vein of folk tradition is evident at every turn. There are numerous museums and famous Chod fairs and celebrations to visit, and typical local handicrafts, such as pottery and lace, make great souvenirs. History buffs might want to visit all 11 original Chod villages, the inhabitants of which once kept watch over the borders of the kingdom.


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