The Republic Square forms the very center of the Czech city Pilsen. The square used to be one of the biggest public squares in Europe and is still today very worth seeing. Located at the square are a number of buildings of historic value, which show the wealth of the former population. Many other sights in Pilsen, for example the brewery, are easily accessible from the Republic Square.
St. Bartholomew's Cathedral
St. Bartholomew Cathedral is the most impressive building at the Republic Square and is also the landmark of the city. It was completed at the beginning of the 16th century and has the highest church tower of the Czech Republic (102.6 meters). It is well worth mounting the 60 meters high observation platform, as you have a view over the whole city from here. The cathedral itself, as well as the figure at the high altar, the „Pilsen Madonna“, count as national monuments in the Czech Republic. Also very admirable is the painting on the east side of the church, which shows Christ on the Mount of Olives, surrounded by guardian angels.
The City Hall
The building was completed between 1554 and 1559 by the Italian master builder Giovanni de Statia and has ever since been used as the city hall. For friends of architecture it is a true piece of Renaissance jewelry. Paintings of the city emblem and of Bohemian emperors decorate the facade. Especially the entrance (namely the 'Maßhaus') is worth viewing. In the back room you can visit a model of the historic city center, free of entry.
The Plague Column
To the right of the city hall you can find the plague column. Created in 1681, it was meant to protect the people of Pilsen. Even the emperor Rudolf II. had fled from Prague to Pilsen in escape of the terrible disease. A replica of the Pilsen Madonna crowns the column at the very top.
Three modern fountains, designed by Ondřej Císler, stand on the city square. The basins are created from chinese granite and the gilded waterspouts carry depictions of an angel, a greyhound and a camel, which are all motives of the city emblem of Pilsen. The greyhound stands for loyalty to the catholic church and to the Bohemian king, already since the 15th century. The camel was later added, after the Roman emperor Sigismund of Luxemburg, in 1433, gave the people of Pilsen a camel as a gift. It meant to remind them of the (unsuccessful) siege of the city by the Hussites.
The Kaiserhaus is located directly next to the Pilsen city hall. It had been the residence of emperor Rudolfo II. from 1599 until 1600, when he had fled the Plague in Prague for Pilsen. Hanging resplendant at the fassade is the statue of knight Žumbera. If you take a close look, you will see that he does not hold himself up very well. Common parlance suggests that he had taken the monitoring of the brewery rights and the beers of the Pilsen brewery somewhat too seriously... Today the building houses the Tourist information.
House by the Golden Eagle (Hotel Central)
Today a hotel, the former Inn 'House by the Golden Eagle' is steeped in history. In 1634, general Flavio Piccolomini passed a night here, when he was looking for Albrecht von Wallenstein. In 1823, even czar Alexander I. spent a night at the Inn, and supposedly in 1839, the Pilsen innkeeper had said: “Most of all, Pilsen needs a good and inexpensive beer!“. What followed was the emergence of the Plzeňský Prazdroj brewery, which today brews the trademark Pilsner Urquell beer.
The Puppet museum
Also worth seeing is the building which you find at the address The Republic Square 23. It is home to the Puppet Museum and counts as one of the most important houses in the city. It was originally built in Gothic style and was reconstructed during the Renaissance. Since then, the facade has been embellished with many gorgeous wall paintings.
Scriboni House (also: Wallenstein-House)
The 16th century Renaissance house had been originally built as residence for the mayor of the city. Albrecht von Wallenstein, a famous Bohemian commander, lived here from 1633 to 1634. Today it is often called 'the European House', as it contains for example the Austrian Library and the Alliance Française.
How to get there
The best way to reach Pilsen is over Nuremberg. At the motorway junction east (Autobahnkreuz Ost), follow the signs to the A6 direction Prague. Leave the Autobahn at exit 89 direction Most and continue driving on route 26. From here, you simply follow the signs to the center of Pilsen.