One of our first trips in the Czech Republic was a day trip to the famous beer-making city of Pilsen (or Plzeň); fun fact: Pilsen was appointed the European Capital of Culture of 2015. It’s only 92 km southwest of Prague and it’s easily accessible by direct train from Prague’s main train station (Praha Hlavní Nádraží) or by bus. Our excursion to Pilsen was organized by IC CUNI (Charles University International Club), a student club which organizes various social, cultural and sport events or trips for both international and Czech students, and generally helps international students to handle their stay in Prague.
We arrived to the central square (Náměstí Republiky) of Pilsen early in the morning and started our tour by visiting Pilsen’s famous Puppet Museum (Muzeum Loutek).
The exhibition which is set up in the puppet museum is spread out on all three floors of the museum and it narrates the story of puppets in Pilsen from their very first appearance, which dates back to the 19th century, up to the present. It’s well structured, starting with information about the oldest puppets, their performances and the people which were behind the establishment of Pilsen puppet theater, and ends with beautifully staged sets from plays. Each puppet is followed with historical notes (plays they appeared in, manufacturing details, etc.). The visit to this museum was a memorable experience! I thought I’d share with you some of the puppets and marionettes that caught my eye :
The work of Josef Skupa alongside with other renowned personalities, such as Gustav Nosek and Jiří Trnka, gave birth to the probably most famous Czech puppets – Spejbl and Hurvínek.
After seeing all of these puppets we had the opportunity to watch a short computer-controlled puppet show …
…and play with some of the puppets !
Afterwards, we headed to a Czech restaurant…
…and grabbed some lunch; beer was essential of course 😛
Of course we couldn’t leave without visiting Pilsen’s famous beer factory…
…where we were given a full tour of the site, learned about the brewing process, the process of malting, the mashing and filtering process and the packing lines….
… We also learned about Pilsen’s Historical Underground, with its nearly 14 km of corridors, and walked through a labyrinth of passageways, about 800 m long and at depths of 9 to 12 meters below the historic city center of Pilsen. Cellars and wells were built below Pilsen as early as from the 14th Century.
At the end of our tour we where offered to taste the old-style unfiltered Pils , which we got to drink run by tap straight from a large wooden barrel (no gas or electric pump) whilst we where still in the cellars.
The tour lasted approx 1-2 hours. The site is pretty big, so be prepared to walk a lot. There is also a small gift shop where one can find good quality t-shirts and bottles of Pils at very low prices. I would highly recommend to go for the custom-engraved and personalized Pils beer glass; it’s the most unique souvenir the beer factory has to offer.
Once our tour was over, we had some free time to wander around the medieval-looking small city of Pilsen :
The central square in the old Town of Pilsen is dominated by the large Gothic cathedral of St. Bartholomew and the three fountains define the three corners of the Square.