Plzen is the only one Czech town, about of which I felt shy to write. Until now. Until this moment I considered Pilsen (Plzen) and Borjomi to be diametrically opposed towns. It is all because of the stereotype: “Pilsen – beer”. Well, how can I write about beer in community, which is dedicated to the mineral water Borjomi?!
But recently I got Pilsen guide. And I radically have changed my opinion about this city. Moreover, now I think that it is not good Pilsen only with beer. It is the same as to associate Borjomi only with its red cover. Just think: this city exists for more than 11 ages. Already in the X century at the intersection of rivers Uslavy, Úhlava, Radbuzy and Mzhi castle guard towered. It is a sort of fortress, which guarded strategic point. In 1295 King Wenceslas II ordered to build a city here. His desire was done at once in form of 22 hectares of «chessboard»- the streets clearly cross at right angles. King’s design wasn’t accidental: trading routes from Nuremberg, Regensburg and Sachsen converged in Prague. Having built center of population on the route of merchant caravans, King got several advantages. Firstly, it is a large commercial city in the western part of the country. Secondly, it is rich proceeds to the city coffers, a part of which flowed smoothly into the royal coffers.
Plan was successful. Pilsen was growing so fast, that from brisk market town it transformed into the third royal city of the Czech Republic (Prague and Kutna Hora were the first). Square in the center of the city is considered one of the largest in the country (168 x191 m); the tallest tower in the Czech Republic is about 103 m and it is located on this square. At the beginning of the XIV century Pilsen was a well-defined gothic town surrounded by earthen ramparts and a moat. Later, when the city was growing stone walls were built. And the town hadn’t stopped its development.
Plzeň increased its fortune according to two schemes. It was located on trade routes and it also received privileges from the king. The document on resolving brewing in the city is dated 1307. The oldest city seal remained on this valuable document. In addition to brewers, the butchers shops and draper shops also reached large value and wealth.
During Hussite Wars the city was captured by the troops of Jan Zizkov, retreated from Prague. Most of the population supported the idea of the Hussites, but it was in vain. At first terrible commander destroyed a couple of monasteries, and then he rebuilt Plzen pretty well. He erected military fortifications around the city center by pulling down merchants’ houses in the suburbs. However, the unique layout had been preserved to our time. King could not stand this mockery of royal castles and took the city in a ring of siege. Hussite troops were forced to leave the city.
After that the city became a bastion of Catholicism, and all attempts of Hussites to capture the city failed. The townspeople even made sorties into the Hussite camp. One of these sorties ended with the capture the camel, which had become the image on the town coat of arms.
Pope Paul II also enriched coat of arms by adding another image: two keys. He did it for the support in the fight for the Czech crown when Pilsen was against King George of Podebrady.
Well, we will not stop at medieval history. Just not in the case of Pilsen! Oh, this city had experienced everything, but it remained faithful to its traditions. I’ll tell you in the next post about other achievements of Pilsen.