Regional capital of the Pilsen Region and the forth biggest town in the Czech Republic (320 metres above sea level, 173,000 inhabitants) lies in the middle of the Pilsen hilly country on the confluence of the rivers Mže, Úhlava, Úslava and Radbuza. The town was founded by Václav II in the year 1295 and soon it became an important town on the trade trails to Regensburg and Norimberg.
In the 15th century the town reached a big development. Historic Gothic centre remained preserved until the present and later it was declared a Town Historic Reserve.
The Hussite movement in Pilsen was very popular at the beginning. Priest Václav Koranda, senior worked in the town. He was trying to purify the church in the sense of the original Apostolic church. Later the Hussites however left for Tábor and Pilsen started to incline to Rome more and more. In the 16th century it was already a loyal Catholic town (only a Catholic could become a merchant of Pilsen).
The war years of the 17th century passed over, as well as the 18th century; the 19th century brought a rapid development and thanks to the newly established industry the new residents began to come to town. In the year 1842 the merchants’ brewery was established and Pilsner Urquell (Plzeňský Prazdroj) as well as Škoda Works became famous all over.
Favourable development of the town was forcibly interrupted by the Munich Agreement and the Second World War. On the 6th of May 1945 Pilsen was liberated by the American army.
Nowadays, Pilsen is a modern town which can be proud of many historical monuments. The most valuable is a Gothic Cathedral of St. Bartholomew, founded in 1292, with a valuable statue of the Virgin and Child coming from the year 1390. The Calvary from the 1460s is also an admired woodcarving work. The pseudo-Gothic altar was made by Josef Mocker. The beauty of the interior is emphasized by big colourful, richly decorated windows. The tower of the cathedral is 102 metres high. Nowadays, this remarkable church is a cathedral church of the Roman Catholic bishopric which was established in 1991. In the main square there stands a Renaissance town hall from the 16th century.
The Jewish synagogue, built in a Moorish-Romanesque style between the years -1888–1893, surprisingly survived the hard war years. Nowadays, there is a concert and exhibition hall here. In Pilsen we can also find the Orthodox Church of St. Anna as well as the houses of prayer of the Czechoslovak Hussite Church (CHC) and the Church of the Brethren.
The Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren (ECCB) has two congregations in Pilsen. The older one is Hus – Western Congregation. First, let us mention little bit of a history: after the proclamation of the Toleration Patent in 1781 no Protestants were found in Pilsen. This region was influenced by the counter-Reformation very strongly. Only in the 60s of the 19th century some Czech Protestants came to Pilsen together with a wave of the new residents. At the beginning they used to meet in the German Lutheran congregation. In the year 1869 the first Protestant church in Pilsen was built (the building is now being used by the CHC). As late as in the year 1913 a Czech Reformed congregation was founded and later it became a part of the newly established ECCB (18th December 1918).
Although the congregation owned a congregation house with Hus‘ Chapel, they decided to build a church. On the 6th of July 1924 its foundation stone was laid. The building was designed by architect Bohuslav Chvojka. The church was built by Pilsen builder F. Vachta. It is a unique two-floor corner building in a Modernist style. In its front there is a tower over thirty metres high with a chalice which dominates the building. Exactly after one year, on the 6th of July 1925 Hus‘ Church at the corner of today’s streets Němejcova and Borská was inaugurated. Besides its own house of prayer with 600 seats the church has other halls and rooms useful for the congregation life. There is a special system of lighting through the glass ceiling.
The first preacher, already since the year 1914, was a minister Ebenezer Otter who served the congregation for the whole 42 years and spent together with it the happy beginning, period of development after the 1st World War (when thanks to so called conversion movement the number of the Protestants was increasing) but also miserable war years; at that time he and his son George experienced the cruelty of a Nazi prison. The congregation as well remembers with gratitude other preachers who faithfully served in no less hard period of a totalitarian regime.
It is also good to mention that in the year 1932 there was the first Divine gathering in Bzí mountain near Blovice in the memory of the Hussite Manifesto which was declared in this place in the year 1419 by Václav Koranda. Parts of this manifesto became later a basis of the famous Four Articles of Prague.
History of the second Pilsen congregation (Koranda congregation) is inseparably connected with a name of a minister Karel Machotka (1881–1954) who influenced a development and life of the Evangelical church in the whole western Bohemia very strongly. In 1908 he came to Pilsen, to at that time a preaching station. The congregation was established in 1921 and from the very beginning they were thinking of a construction of a church. This important task was entrusted to architect Jaroslav Fišer and in the year of 1935 a foundation stone of not only a church but also a congregation house was laid. At the English embankment a five-floor house was built. Through its hall we can enter a rotunda, a monumental circular space with twelve columns, a gallery and a glass dome. Over the pulpit there is a larger than life statue of the Resurrected Christ, a casting of a Danish sculptor Thorvaldsen’s work. An organ is situated on the gallery opposite the pulpit.
The church was ceremonially opened on the 29th of November 1936. It is a remarkable work; there are as well several rooms and offices which are important for the work of the congregation. On the basement we find a columbarium which serves the public. In this period the residential houses which originally were supposed to serve the Protestant families were built.
Today’s congregation is live and remembers its predecessors with respect.