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Pilsen (or Plzeň in Czech) is the fourth biggest city in the Czech Republic. It is situated in western Bohemia at the confluence of four rivers - Radbuza, Mže, Úhlava, and Úslava. Flowing together they form the Berounka river. It is an important industrial, commercial, cultural, and administrative center. It has population of 165, 000 inhabitants and its metropolitan area covers about 125 square kilometers.

Pilsen castle was mentioned for the first time in 976 - a battle between Duke Boleslaus II of Bohemia and Emperor Otto II took place there. Pilsen was granted a status of town in 1295 by the Czech king Wenceslas II. As it was built not far from Prague (about 90 km) on the crossroads of two important trade routes, the town rather soon became an influential center and grew fast. As early as 14th century it became the third biggest town in Bohemia after Prague and Kutná Hora.

Pilsen can be proud of its rich cultural and architectonic heritage. In 1989 the old town was declared a historical landmark and since then it is under government protection so it can be more cautiously preserved for future generations. The most valuable city’s treasures include the Gothic St. Bartholomew's Cathedral founded in the end of 13th century, the Renaissance Town Hall, Baroque reconstruction of the Archdeacon’s house and Franciscan Monastery and the third-largest synagogue in the world that recently has been opened after reconstruction.

Diverse nature resources around the city and rather mild climate give Pilsen recreational value. Both foreign visitors and Czech inhabitants like immensely to relax in surrounding woods and near the rivers. Various short one-day trips to local historic sites are also provided. Besides, Pilsen is an important center of international cultural events and festivals such as the Smetana Days, the Theatre Festival, International Drawing Biennial, Skupa’s Plzen, and the International Big-Band Festival.

Pilsen is famous for its local beer that has been brewed there since the town’s foundation. The first written mention of local brewery was made in 1307 in the last will of a Pilsen burgher Wolfram Zwinilinger who endowed his brewery to the St. Bartholomew´s church. The most well-known local beer factories today are the Pilsner Urquell founded in 1842 and Gambrinus established in 1869. So-called pilsener type of beer based on Pilsner Urquell was created in the 19th century.

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