90 km southwest of Prague, Plzeň (pronounced "peulzegen") is just as well known for its Škoda factories as it is for its beer brands. Founded in 1295, this town of brewers has remained very industrial. However, today's Plzeň is in a state of flux and no longer deserves its grey and sad reputation. It's an airy provincial town that has been renovated. The centre in particular, although small, is clean and very green, and welcomes trendy Czech youth. The evenings are lively, and during the day you can go for lovely walks or sit on one of the many terraces in the summer. A pleasant regional capital which is also worth a visit for its typical architecture of the time. The Place de la République is home to the Renaissance-style Town Hall and many bourgeois houses. As for the Gothic church of St. Bartholomew, it has the highest tower in the country (103 m high). The synagogue, with its twin towers, is a symbol of the prosperity of the local Jewish community at the end of the 19th century. However, much of the city was destroyed during the Second World War, when Plzeň was liberated by the Americans under General Patton's command.

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