As there are several tens of thousands of products made in the Czech Republic, the following selection can be nothing more than a brief list of the truly best-known, most important and most interesting products.
GlassThe glass-making industry has a very long tradition in the Czech Republic and Czech glass is well know the world over. Glass-making in particular developed during the 13th century in the Jizerské and Lužické mountain ranges due to the locally available raw materials. Beautiful glass and porcelain are produced in other areas, such as the Dub region or in Nová Rol.
The most renowned Czech glass comes from Jablonec nad Nisou and Nový Bor.
Glass products from the Czech Republic are prized on the world market and come in a wide range of varieties, the most popular of which is lead crystal, cut glass and glass figurines, Christmas ornaments, domestic glass and chandeliers.
Lead crystalLead crystal is more sparkly, resonant and resistant than any other type of glass, because lead crystal is made from the finest ingredients. Czech crystal contains at least 24% lead oxide (PbO) by law. Manufacturing methods also affect the quality of crystal - this is why the raw materials and every single stage of the manufacturing process are carefully controlled.
A typical Czech decor is the so-called lace decor, which perfectly represents the Czech lapidary school. Complex labyrinths of hundreds and thousands of cobwebby slits that decorate products of different shapes with perfect figures are created by the hand of skillful artists. The shimmering beauty of lead crystal is fully demonstrated through this lace decor.
Products with generous Czech patterns are the signature of artists' skills and hearts for handiwork, which cannot be re-created by any machine. The result is excellent-quality products respected the world over.
For more than 140 years, the Moser glass-making factory has produced luxury table and decorative glass products of classic and modern design. The factory was founded in the middle of the 19th century by glass cutter Ludwig Moser. The company was then managed by his descendants, who helped it achieve worldwide fame.
Although it contains no lead, glassware of the world-famous Moser Company in the Czech Republic is regarded as crystal because of its complex chemical makeup, remarkable hardness, clarity and overall high quality. A secret manufacturing formula makes this glass as hard as rock and as brilliant as lead crystal without the use of lead. Moser is the Rolls Royce of Bohemian glass; it is what world leaders give and receive as gifts. In the more distant past, patrons have included Austrian Emperor Franz Josef I, King Victor Emanuel III of Italy, Pope Pius XI, the Shah of Iran, Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie, King Faisal of Saudi Arabia, King Hussein of Jordan, King Edward VII, Queen Alexandra and Queen Elisabeth II of England, and dozens of other monarchs, maharajahs, princesses, presidents and ambassadors; in recent times, including Pope John Paul II and Emperor Akihito of Japan. Anything coming out of Moser Glassworks is as good as a collector's item. Among the pieces of the present-day assortment of Moser Glassworks, perhaps drinking sets are the most popular. Each set was given its name with regard to its character or its name is in direct relationship to a certain prominent personality, locality, or to a historical period (e.g. "prima donna" of the Moser collection Splendid).
The assortment of Moser Glassworks contains also a type of glass that deviates somewhat in style from the typical Moser production - the Giant Snifters known also as famous "dancing glasses." Using a glass formula known only to Moser, the stem has a unique flexing quality, enabling the glass to spin on its base. The rotating function arises from the specific shape of the snifters, and special attention was given to the optimum position of the center of gravity, which is important for the stability of the rotating glass. The origin of Giant Snifters was in 1956, when their creator had a well-considered idea about the glasses he would use, as a glass artist, to toast his friends. He came to the conclusion they should be glasses that would be entirely different from anything else known until then. He maintained they should be a surprise prepared for every guest individually, a sort of tailor-made snifter. Therefore, he classified humanity into six different types and created six snifters differing in shape, height and volume. He gave each snifter individual names with reference to facial qualities / to physiognomic personification/: Big Bertha, Stout Gentleman, Moonface, Longface, Long Fellow and Slim Lady. A number of other features were also added: apart from their functional characteristics, they included the acoustic element - the chimes created when the glasses are clinked, which are due to the specific shape of the cup, and the glass thickness, giving resistance to breaking, even when clinked heartily. Each goblet is unique, each has its own pitch and tone and each sounds differently. The toast is accompanied by a charming melody, resembling the chimes of bells.
A number of outstanding personalities were admitted to the Giant Snifters Club. Members of royal families, film stars and renowned jazzmen are among members of the club even now.
Branded porcelain has been a traditional Czech product for a long time. The best-known products include onion-pattern porcelain and the Thun-branded porcelain made in Karlovy Vary. The corporation Český porcelán Dubí is one of four manufacturers of the highly demanded “porcelain of generations,” i.e. onion-pattern porcelain. It continues the tradition that began as early as 1864. Since 1997, the trademark registered in 1993 was enhanced with a designation of country of origin. To make the trademark text more legible, it is presently applied in a green-blue color.
Approximately 70% of the production of Karlovarský porcelán a.s. is exported to more than 90 countries on five continents. The products are manufactured in nine production plants, each specializing in a certain type. The picture shows the traditional pink porcelain. This has been produced since 1811 in the original manufactory in Chodov, and in contrast to other manufacturers, the pink color is not the result of glazing; rather, it is the porcelain material itself that is colored. Since the era of President Havel, this porcelain with special decoration has been used on festive social events organized by the head of state.
Bohemian garnet, which can only be found in Bohemia, has always maintained a unique position among other garnet stones due to its unique, fiery red color and the light refraction. Moreover, it is said to enjoy curative effects. As it has come down since the time of Emperor Rudolph II, the admirer of Bohemian garnets who had many unique pieces in his collection, Bohemian garnet has been said to help overcome sorrow and bring vital power, spirit and the feeling of joy. In the course of time, Bohemian garnet and the jewelry using Bohemian garnet has become increasingly popular, not only in the country of origin, but also across the frontiers of Bohemia. Bohemian garnet jewels are known to have adorned the dresses of Russian tsarinas at the Vienna congress after the fall of Napoleon in 1815. During the of the 1890s, the appearance of Bohemian garnet jewelry has reached the characteristic designs in which garnets dominate over the metal. This characteristic feature of garnet jewels has maintained its position till the present time.
The present-day manufacturer Granat Turnov has been continuing the tradition of manufacturing real Bohemian jewels and spreading their publicity abroad. At present, the sample range of garnet jewelry includes over 3,500 designs produced according to customer requirements in sterling silver, gold-plated silver, 14 kt and 18 kt gold. New designs, which represent the highly skilled workmanship of stone cutters and goldsmiths, are added to the line every season.
You can see samples of Bohemian garnet jewelry on the displays of renowned fine jewelry shops not only in Europe but all over the world.
Much like Czech glass, Czech jewelery is sought after the world over. It has a long tradition and even growing competition has been able to weaken its position on the market. Jewelery from the Czech Republic remains a favorite among women all over the world.
Beer Czech beer is one of the best-known and most requested beers worldwide. The biggest Czech brewers include Plzeňský Prazdroj, Pivovary Staropramen, Budvar, Bernard, PMS Přerov, Drinks Union and Starobrno. There are many other smaller, often family-run breweries in the Czech Republic, which are mostly operated in combination with a restaurant, where you can sample the local beer on the spot.
Most breweries offer guided tours, usually giving you the chance to sample the beer while you are there.
Prazdroj Plzeňský Prazdroj (Pilsner Urquell) is the leading brewery in Central and Eastern Europe. It has the highest annual beer production and is the biggest Czech beer exporter to nearly 50 countries worldwide.
On the Czech market, Plzeňský Prazdroj’s four brands - Pilsner Urquell, Gambrinus, Radegast and Velkopopovický Kozel – in total rank first in terms of annual production and exports. Plzeňský Prazdroj also owns Pivovar Šariš in Slovakia, the No. 2 player on the Slovak beer market.
Plzeňský Prazdroj is a member of SABMiller plc, the second-biggest beer producer in the world. The flagship of the group is the Pilsner Urquell brand. Its brand name and quality makes Pilsner Urquell of the world's favorite beers.
The brewery is among the best known companies in the Czech Republic. For more than 160 years, the Pilsner Urquell company has been making beer, which has become symbolic of the Czech brewer's art.
Even when the first glass was poured 160 years ago, it was obvious that this was a completely original lager. The popularity of the beer grew, as did the number of drinkers, both at home and abroad. As a result, the city of Plzen became known worldwide as a city of beer. The public, fascinated by the taste of the new beer, are also often interested in the brewery itself. It is not unheard of for important visitors, including state representatives, politicians, artists, scientists and people with a high public profile to take a tour of the brewery. Every year, more than 100 000 people visit the Plzen brewery.
Budvar The direct predecessor of Budvar of Budějovice (Budweiser Budvar) was Český akciový pivovar (Czech Joint-Stock Brewery), founded in 1895 by Czech licensed brewers (entrepreneurs), who continued the historical tradition of beer brewing in České Budějovice.
This tradition dates to the 13th century, when beer brewing began. In competition with the German Měšťanský pivovar and two Schwarzenberg breweries in Třeboň and Protivín, Český akciový pivovar won primarily due to the high quality and exceptional taste of its beer. Its beer received an award in 1896 at the Industrial Exhibition in Prague. The lager from Český akciový pivovar was known abroad as early as in 1913. And it was due to its extensive exports that the brewery was revitalized very quickly after World War I.
In the period between the world wars, the brewery was significantly modernized. In 1922, the first Artesian well was bored, and another was added later on. The brewery thus gained a source of high-quality water, which has contributed to the excellent taste of the original Budvar lager to date. During World War II, the brewery was controlled by the Nazi administration, and when this was over, it was nationalized. In 1967, a portion of the assets of Jihočeské pivovary, národní podnik (South Bohemian Breweries, National Corporation) was separated, and a stand-alone legal entity of Budějovický Budvar was established, which specialized in exports based on its tradition, valuable trademarks and beer quality. After 1989, the brewery developed considerably in the national and foreign markets, following a year when the current management managed to nearly triple the annual beer production.
The beer range is wide, consisting of Budweiser Budvar Premium Lager, Budweiser Budvar Light Draft Beer, Bud Super Strong, Budweiser Budvar Free non-alcoholic beer and Budweiser Budvar Dark Lager.
Pivovary Staropramen The brewery located in the Prague quarter of Smíchov was founded in 1869, and the Staropramen brand was registered in 1911. At present, Pivovary Staropramen is the second-biggest beer producer in the Czech Republic, holding a 14% market share. The core product is again light draft beer and light lager, but on top of that Pivovary Staropramen produces a wide range of beer specialties, e.g. Velvet, Granát, Kelt, etc.
BernardThe family brewery in Humpolec, established in the 16th century and revived in 1991, was the first purely private brewery opened after 1989. In 2000, the brewery received a capital booster from Duvel Moortgat of Belgium, yet the production of traditional light, semi-dark, and unique dark beers, which are the only non-pasteurized beer products on the market, remained (www.bernard.cz).
Zlatopramen The Drinks Union, a.s., based in Ústí nad Labem, is mostly known as the producer of the very popular Zlatopramen 11-degree beer.
The biggest beer producer in Moravia, ranking fourth in the Czech market, is PMS, a.s. of Přerov. The company operates a brewery in Hanušovice, which produces the Holba beer products, the Zubr brewery in Přerov, and a small brewery in Litovel, producing beer of the same name.
Starobrno The biggest and best-known brewery in Brno is Starobrno. Apart from the traditional range of light lager beer and several draft beers, this brewery is famous for its beer specialties – the Baron Trenek 14-degree beer and the Červený drak (Red Dragon) 15-degree red beer.
Small family breweries are associated in the Czech Union of Small Independent Breweries. The bes- known of these include Eggenberg a.s. of Český Krumlov, Chodovar s.r.o. of Domažlice, Žatecký pivovar, Pivovar Nymburk s.r.o, Pivovar Svijany s.r.o., and the famous Pivovar a restaurace u Fleků s.r.o. in Prague.
Lobkowicz, one of the oldest Czech beers is a brand worth trying. The brewery was founded in 1466 and belongs to the aristocratic family of the same name – also one of the oldest in the Czech Republic. Some 60 000 hectoliters of first-class pasteurized are produced at the brewery annually. Quality ingredients go into making this beer, including water from the brewery’s own artesian wells, barely grown in an ecologically pure region, hops and traditional yeasts. It is considered a small brewery with a capacity of 120 000 hectoliters, but its strategic production rests with the preservation of the production of classic Czech beer. It currently produces beer under the brand names Lobkowicz and Démon.
Jan Becher produces this drink according to a traditional secret recipe, without adding any chemical preservatives, artificial colors or emulsifiers. The old-fashioned formula is quite simply - it only contains quality water from Karlovy Vary, high-quality ethanol, natural sugar, and a very specific and harmonious mix of herbs and spices. Becherovka is known as the 13th spring at the spas at Karlovy Vary.
If you order mineral water in a Czech restaurant, you will likely get Mattoni, referred to in spoken Czech as “Matonka.” This water comes from an area of healing springs near Karlovy Vary. In addition to the traditional Matonka, you can find other equally good mineral water products from other producers, e.g. Korunní, Bonaqua, Magnesii and many others. The chemical composition of these waters is very good for human health thanks to the presence of a variety of minerals.
Olomouc curd cheeseThe curd cheese from the town of Olomouc is a true curiosity and culinary delicacy. Records documenting the production of this curd cheese, called “syrečky” in Czech, date to the 1500s.
Genuine Olomouc curd cheese represents the only original Czech cheese, the name of which has been registered as an internationally protected designation of origin. The A.W. company based in Loštice, the business name of which bears the initials of the company founder, Mr. Alois Wessel, has produced this cheese since 1876. The company has been certified for exports to EU countries (CZ 712) since 1996, and was thus able to guarantee the supply of its products after the accession of the country to the EU. Mr. Wessel's company produces around 2,000 metric tons of curd cheese annually.
The primary raw material used to produce the original Olomouc curd cheese is fat-free sour curd. No preservatives are used in production apart from common salt, which plays a crucial role both in production and in creating the typical taste. In terms of nutritional qualities, this cheese fully meets the requirements of the modern consumer: it contains very little fat – only 1% - a lot of protein, calcium, and cultivated lactic cultures.
Transportation and machinery
AutomobilesOnly four car manufacturers in the world can boast more than 100 years of tradition. One of these is Škoda. It was founded as a family business by Laurin and Klement in 1895. First, the two young men produced bicycles in Mladá Boleslav, and later on they manufactured motorbikes. In 1905, they produced the “Grandfather Automobile” – L&K Sd Limousine. That was when the successful era of car manufacturing began. After merging with Škoda Plzen in 1925, great development followed.
The company produced cars with a number of artistic details, which were successful in international car contests. The developing business was dampened by World War II and the subsequent nationalization. Nonetheless, the car manufacturer managed to keep up with industry developments in the West. In 1991, Škoda Auto became the fourth brand of the VW group. It presently employs about 20,000 people and produces around half a million cars per year for both the domestic and foreign markets.
TramcarsŠkoda Holding, a.s., continues the production activities commonly connected with its traditional Czech name of Škoda Plzen. Škoda Holding, a.s., was created following a major financial and organizational restructuring. It is a financial holding that financially and methodically manages its subsidiaries. It is wholly owned by Appian Group, an international investment group. Together with its subsidiaries, Škoda Holding, a.s., employs nearly 3,000 people. The company produces a wide range of transportation equipment (of which the currently best known model is the Škoda-Inekon 10T, a tramcar you can encounter in many cities worldwide). Other products include machine tools, center lathes, milling cutter machines and drilling machines, and power-generation and distribution equipment.
Škoda Power is another company belonging to Škoda Holding. It is responsible for the manufacture of machine parts for steam turbines and heat exchangers in engine rooms. Its clients include power stations (steam and nuclear) and waste burning stations. Additionally, Škoda Power offers a host of related services for the long-term maintenance and upkeep of its products.
Military equipment: RadarsProducts made by the ERA company based in Pardubice are well-known in the world of military technologies, and they are for example used by the U.S. military. The core products include the VERA-E passive surveillance system with a 450-kilometer radius, a successor of the well-known TAMARA. However, in contrast to TAMARA, it renders the target position in all three dimensions. In the near future, the company will compete in a tender for a passive surveillance system for NATO.
Passive surveillance system VERA can - in certain circumstances - see the U.S. "invisible" airplane Stealth. If Stealth has its radar switched off, nothing - even VERA - could find it on the sky. But if the pilot explores his target with a radar, VERA will detect it.
Military equipment: Surveillance and defense systemsVTÚL a PVO, a company controlled by the Ministry of Defense of the Czech Republic, manufactures the SOJKA pilot-free surveillance airplane, which is designed for reconnaissance activities or as a flying target. Its parameters and performance rank it among the top products of its class worldwide. Its radius is up to 100 kilometers, flying time 3.5 hours; and with wing span of less than 4 meters.
Parachute gliders The manufacturing of paragliders (parachute gliders) is quite extensive in the Czech Republic, which is proof of the ability of Czech manufacturers to follow the latest trends and to use state-of-the-art technologies (Macpara) in designing this aircraft. The products have of course received safety attestations from the DHV and AFNOR international test laboratories.
Petrof pianos The company was established in 1864 by Antonín Petrof, originally a joiner, and the biggest piano manufacturer in Europe has borne his name to the present. Currently, Petrof, based in Hradec Králové, is managed by the fifth generation of this family.
More than 1,000 employees produce five core types of grand pianos, differing in length. Concert grand pianos are manufactured individually by the most experienced specialists of the firm. Petrof also produces most of the required semi-finished products, such as pegs, keys, etc.
Many leading music interpreters have fallen in love with the master grand pianos of Petrof, among them Svyatoslaw Richtier, Arturo Benedetti and Hiroko Nakamurado. Many other artists have been accompanied by these noted musical instruments, e.g. Plácido Domingo, José Carreras and Luciano Pavarotti during their concerts in the Czech Republic. Instruments of this brand are also used in La Scala in Milan, the Sydney Opera House, the Paul IV Auditorium in Vatican City, and in many television and radio studios.
Baťa shoes The Baťa footwear company was founded in 1894 by Tomáš Baťa, a shoemaker from Zlín, together with his siblings Antonín and Anna. Currently the company employs 50,000 staff and operates 50 production plants in 68 countries around the world and has sold over 221 million pairs of shoes.