This article was tranlated by Iustrans


In a previous post we were asking ourselves what the Czech Republic of 2015 and the  Euskadi of 2016 have in common. Here’s the answer:

According to Google Maps, there are 1,765 km between the Basque city of Donostia/San Sebastian and the Czech city of Pilsen, and they are more than 16 hours apart by road. Donostia/San Sebastian is on the shores of the Bay of Biscay. Pilsen is far from the sea, at the confluence of four rivers, the so-called Hollow of Pilsen.

They don´t seem to have much in common, but it turns out that they do have some similarities, beyond their similar number of inhabitants.

Both cities were founded within just over 100 years of each other: Donostia in 1180 and Pislen in 1295, and both were born as strategic commercial points. Both have suffered wars, sieges and invasions, and both suffered several devastating fires, two of them almost at the same time: Donostia in 1489 and Pislen in 1507 burned to ashes. In both cases, they reemerged stronger.

They both coincide in many things, such as in the active opposition of their populations to the totalitarian regimes that they endured over several decades of the twentieth century.

There are overlaps even in what concerns their cuisine; more specifically, in the fact that both are international heavyweights in the field of gastronomy. Although in this case it seems more appropriate to speak of complementarity, rather than similarity.

  • Pilsen is synonymous with beer, as the town has given its name to a type of beer known throughout the world: the Pilsener.
  • Donostia, or San Sebastian, is synonymous with gastronomy of the highest level, and with pintxos.

We cannot imagine a better brotherhood (or a better pairing) between two cities than a knowledge exchange of this kind.


But there is something else which is very special and which unites these two cities separated by more than 1,700 km, but united by their European commitment. Both have been selected as European Capitals of Culture.

  • Pilsen deserves such an honor thanks to its intense cultural activity and a deep desire for change driven by creativity and focused on sustainable development. They have wonderful projects, including creating a city that provides a welcoming environment for bees.
  • Donostia will take over from Pilsen in 2016. With the key axis of culture and dialogue, it will present an ambitious range of goals: to promote knowledge and the use of technology, to promote mediation in creative processes, to encourage linguistic diversity, to facilitate citizen participation, and to promote critical thinking.

Until the Basque city of Donostia takes up the role, the Czech city of Pilsen provides an extraordinary opportunity to meet the best of what a European Capital of Culture can offer: culture, history, innovation, energy, and some of the best beers in the world. And Pilsen is located just 80 km away from the capital, Prague.

And while 16 hours on a car or a bus make for a very long journey, with the “summer” connection between Euskadi and Prague, the Czech Republic is almost “at our doorstep”. It is a great opportunity for the Basques to get to know this extraordinary country with the great excuse of discovering this 2015 European Capital of Culture. We hope that in 2016 they will return the visit.

What does this country offer us? The Czech Tourism website offers a great preview with information in Spanish on Pilsen, European Capital of Culture.


This is the second installment of articles written to mark the presentation of the direct air link between Bilbao and Prague, and the cultural, tourist and gastronomic riches of this country. Enjoy this extraordinary presentation by Markéta Lehecková, director of CzechTourism for the Iberian Peninsula, who, supported by the team of Blog on Brands, organized a fun, different and magical event in a Bilbao txoko. They called it #txokotxeko.

Last Updated on Dec 20, 2020 by About Basque Country

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