© Libor Sváček, archiv CzechTourism

Having a beer and visiting the underground

Pilsen - Radyně Castle

Length 15 km Duration 1 Day

Pilsen is situated about ninety kilometres from Prague and the trip by car takes approximately an hour. You can also easily get there by bus or train from Prague Main Station. The journey around the city can be made on foot, or you can use public transport or car. However, the itinerary assumes that the tour begins at Radyně Castle near the village of Starého Plzence, about 4 kilometres (a 15 minute drive) from Pilsen centre. You can also take a train from Pilsen to Starý Plzenec – there is a tourist route leading to the castle.

The West Bohemian city of Pilsen and its surrounding region comprise a number of historical places associated with Charles IV’s legacy.

Before seeing Pilsen, stop off at the nearby ruins of Radyně Castle. Established by Charles IV in 1356 to watch over an important trade route from Prague to Nuremberg, it is a typical example of a castle from the High Middle Ages. Its perimeter walls and two towers have been preserved to the present day. One of these was converted into an observation tower. The captivating atmosphere of the castle is enhanced by the legend of a wandering knight.

The next stop is Pilsen. The first sight to visit is the Cathedral of St. Bartholomew, a three-nave Gothic church, whose almost 103 metre high tower, visible from afar, is the highest church tower in the Czech Republic. The construction of the original church started in 1342, during the reign of Charles's father John of Luxembourg. The most significant artworks in the Cathedral are the statue of the Madonna of Pilsen, which was returned to Pilsen from Norway after sixty long years in 2014, the monumental statue of Calvary, an extraordinary work of Gothic wood carving, and the Šternberk Chapel from the first half of the 16th century.

After visiting the magnificent church, descend into the Pilsen Historical Underground. The origins of this multiple-storey labyrinth of passageways, cellars and wells date back to the times of Charles IV. On this adventurous and enlightening trip you will see eerily dark corners as well as places of important archaeological discoveries, illustrating the history of the city and the life of Pilsen folk in the Middle Ages. After returning to the surface, do not hesitate to visit the Brewery Museum – you will find its entrance just a few metres from that of the Historical Underground. During the tour you will learn everything about the beer, whose recipe inspired up to two thirds of all beer brands in the world.

For lunch, as you are in Pilsen, why not try the local beer soup and you must of course have a glass of beer to wash it down. After refreshing yourself, visit the most well preserved and largest historic Armoury in the Czech Republic, which is part of the West Bohemian Museum. The collection was founded under the reign of Charles IV and contains the oldest set of firearms in Europe, produced from the end of the 14th to the beginning of the 16th century.

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