Host City: Pilsen
Pilsen, or Plzeň in Czech, is located in the west of the Czech Republic, and is the fourth biggest city in the country. Most famous for its own Pilsner beer label, the city was chosen to be the European Capital of Culture 2015 back in 2010. It's Ice Hockey team HC Plzeň and football club FC Viktoria are among the most successful teams in the country.
Home to just over 170,000 people, Pilsen sits as the largest city in West Bohemia and fourth biggest in the Czech Republic. It’s location makes it a good place to begin exploring the wider area and country as a whole.
Since its foundation in 1295, the city of Pilsen has become a cultural and economic centre of the West Bohemia. Landmarks include St. Bartholomew Cathedral, Great Synagogue, Pilsner Urquell Brewery, Brewery Museum and Historical Underground, Botanical Garden and DINOPARK Techmania Science Center.
Plzeň was first mentioned as a castle in 976, as the scene of a battle between Duke Boleslaus II the Pious of Bohemia and Emperor Otto II. It became a town in 1295 when King Wenceslaus II granted Plzeň its civic charter as a "Royal City" and established a new town site, some 10 km (6 mi) away from the original settlement, which is the current town of Starý Plzenec.
Emperor Rudolf II made Plzeň his seat from 1599–1600. During the Thirty Years' War the town was taken by Mansfeld in 1618 after the Siege of Plzeň and it was not recaptured by Imperial troops until 1621. Wallenstein made it his winter quarters in 1633.
From the end of the 17th century, the architecture of Plzeň has been influenced by the Baroque style. In 1869 Emil Škoda started up the Škoda Works, headquatered in the city, which became the most important and influential engineering company in the country. By 1917 the Škoda Works employed over 30,000 workers.
The city centre has been under cultural heritage preservation since 1989.