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Traditional Czech Products

Worldwide, there are thousands of different Czech products that are traditionally admired and respected.  

While it would be impossible to list the thousands of items that are beautifully handcrafted in the Czech Republic, we’ve compiled a short list that will highlight a few of our favorites.

 

Porcelain

One of the longest traditions of glass making that stems from Czech glass making is branded porcelain.  Thun-branded porcelain made in Karlovarsky and onion branded porcelain (the porcelain of generations) are two of the most popular forms.

There are four major manufacturers of branded porcelain. One of the most popular, Český porcelán Dubí, began manufacturing this porcelain in 1997, although the green-blue trademark was registered in 1993 in order to designate the country of origin.

Karlovarský porcelán is exported to more than 90 countries.  70% of the porcelain that is created here is part of that export.  Český porcelán Dubí has nine production plants; each one featuring a different porcelain.  One of the most popular forms is pink porcelain, which was initially manufactured in the early 1800’s in Chodov.  In most cases of pink porcelain, the color comes from glazing. However, the pink porcelain produced at Český porcelán Dubí originates in the material used to create the product itself.

 

Glass

One of the oldest traditions in the Czech Republic is glass making.  The handcrafted items that are created out of glass are sought after worldwide.  During the 13th century, glassmaking began to thrive deep within the Jizerské and Lužické mountains.  This was because the amount of raw materials in that area were in abundance.  If you head over to the Nova Rol or Dub regions, you’ll find that glass is not the only piece of art that is made; but porcelain as well.  However, if you want the most desirable and collectible glass, you’ll want to visit Jablonec nad Nisou and Nový Bor.

The glass that you will find in these locations is award winning and extremely valuable around the world. Each piece is different and there are many different types of glass to choose from.  The most popular form is called lead crystal.  Lead crystal typically consists of different shapes of cut glass and figurines made out of the glass.  You may also find some ornaments for decorating your Christmas tree or intricate lighting pieces for your home.

 

Led crystal

Lead crystal is a favorite because it has a quality that draws in the eye.  The sparkles and resonance that can be found in perfect pieces of lead crystal are one of a kind and resist damage more sufficiently than other forms of glass. This is because it is made ingredients that create the perfect combination; specifically, 24% lead oxide. In addition, the process that is used to make the lead crystal also dictates its quality.

One of the most popular creations is called lace décor, consisting of a web of glass that is layered over many different figures and shapes in order to decorate them and add additional glimmer. Artists even create signature lace webbing that represents their own handcrafted pieces of art.

 

Cut glass

Founded by Ludwig Moser around 1850, the Moser glass factory is one of the most well-known factories that is still in existence.  Even more fascinating is the fact that for nearly two centuries, Moser’s family has continued to manage the factory and uphold Moser’s original ideas and framework.

The Moser glass factory’s trademark item is a leadless crystal that has a rock-like composition with the beauty of a sparkling crystal.  The clarity of this cut glass is created by a formula that remains a family secret.  This mystifying glass is so sought after that leaders around the world have both given and received it as gifts. Kings and Queens, ambassadors and emperors have all requested pieces throughout the centuries.  More recently, even Pope John Paul II and Emperor Akihito of Japan requested this Bohemian treasure to add to their collections.  The most popular item among the cut glass to order is the drinking set, each one named directly related to a prominent world figure or time period.

In addition, the spectacular Giant Snifters are formed at Moser Glassworks.  Made out of a unique style of glass that is different from the typical Moser brand, the Snifters, also known as dancing glasses, have a stem that is “flexible,” therefore allowing the glass to rotate on the base.  These Giant Snifters were originally created in 1956, after a dream about creating the perfect toast was brought to fruition.   Because he was an artist, the creator believed that in order to be respected, the glasses that he would need for his own personal use would have to be incredibly unique.  In order to build even more suspense, this artist insisted that each Giant Snifter be a surprise for each individual person that he created one for; each with a personal touch for that particular friend.  He came to the decision that the only way to do this without making hundreds of unique glasses was to divide humanity into six different categories.  From that division, he then developed six snifters, each unique in shape, height and volume. Next, each snifter was given its own name, focusing on the qualities of a person’s face and personality.  Some examples are Big Bertha, Stout Gentleman, Moonface, Longface, Long Fellow and Slim Lady.

Apart from the functional characteristics of each glass, special touches were added to create sound when toasting.  This way, when the he glasses are clinked together, the specific shape of each one would create a different chime, depending on the shape and thickness.  In addition, the glass was made in a manner that it was thick enough to withstand even the most forceful of toasts.

 

Bohemian garnet

Bohemian garnet is unique to Bohemia, not just in name, and it’s bright, deep red color refracts light like no other garnet.  Over the years since the reign of Emperor Rudolph II, who greatly sought after Bohemian garnets, the stone has been thought to have had supernatural qualities and healing powers and ability to combat depression. Jewelry that is embellished with Bohemian garnet has gained popularity over the last century around the world and especially in Bohemia and the land surrounding the beautiful area. The popularity really gained momentum when Russian tsarinas wore Bohemian garnet jewels at the Vienna Congress, not long after Napoleon’s empire was destroyed. Later on in the 19th century, the garnets began to develop their signature design, a domination over the metal that encased them.

Currently, a company called Granat Turnov has consistently continued to produce authentic Bohemian jewels and marketing them as such. In the current market, Granat Turnov has more than 3,500 designs that are typically creating according to customer requirements.  They are usually paired with sterling silver, gold-plated silver, 14 karat and 18 karat gold. As the skills of stone cutters and goldsmiths continue to flourish, new and unique designs are implemented into the creations at Granat Turnov as quickly as the seasons change.

 

Czech jewelry

Glass is not the only sought after creation that is handcrafted across the Czechian plains.  Czech jewelry is also associated with many high profile leaders and celebrities worldwide.  This jewelry has been known to dominate each and every market that it is placed in.  This jewelry is definitely one of the most unique pieces that will add class to any wardrobe.

 

Czech beer

Handcrafted Czech products are not just ornamental.  In fact, some are edible; well, drinkable, that is.  Czech beer is known around th world as one of the best beers that can be purchased.  Top selling breweries include the Plzeňský Prazdroj, Pivovary Staropramen, Budvar, Bernard and Starobrno. In addition, if you are traveling in Czech, many family-owned breweries are operated alongside differing restaurants, their distinct drafts served daily.

The larger Czech breweries often have tours that are offered, allowing samples of the beer to be tasted.  Czech beer is so sought after that

Plzeňský Prazdroj is the leading brewery in not only Czech, but all of Central and Eastern Europe. This brewery has an annual beer production that outranks all of the others by far and also exports it’s product to almost 50 countries around the world.

Pilsner Urquell is only one of Plzeňský Prazdroj’s four brands.  Other options are Gambrinus, Radegast and Velkopopovický Kozel.

Plzeňský Prazdroj a part of SABMiller plc, one of the largest (second place, in fact) beer producer in the world. Pilsner Urquell is the best-selling product that the brewery offers. They have been artistically creating their beers for almost two centuries.

Their success has never been doubted.  In fact, when the company started hundreds of years ago, the lager was considered to be so unique that the admiration of the beer grew so quickly that the city where it was manufactured (Plzen) became known to the world as a city of beer. Because the taste of the beer is so unique, people (including many stately visitors like celebrities and politicians) started to come from miles around to see the brewery and where the special beer was made.  Hundreds of thousands of people visit the brewery every year.

 

Budvar (Budweiser)

When beer brewing began around the year 1250, there were a few specific breweries that competed against one another.  The winning breweries were German Měšťanský pivovar, two Schwarzenberg breweries in Třeboň and Protivín, and Český akciový pivovar. Český akciový pivovar was declared the winner because of the amazing tasting beer that it had artistically created.  Český akciový pivovar was the predecessor of what would eventually become Budweiser in the late 1800’s when a group of licensed entrepreneurs decided that they wanted to open a brewery that would uphold the traditions of Český akciový pivovar, also named Czech Joint-Stock Brewery.

By 1920, the beer that was created at the Český akciový pivovar brewery became heard of abroad thanks to a huge amount of exports that began immediately after WWI. As the industrial revolution began to brew, the brewery itself began to take a modern turn. It was during the 1920s that the first Artesian took shape, giving the brewery a reputation of being a source for high-quality water.  It was this water that is said to have given the lager brewed such a clean and distinct taste.  As World War II loomed, control of the brewery changed hands and the Nazi administration became in charge of the happenings there.  After the war, the brewery was nationalized and in 1967, the assets of the South Bohemian Breweries, National Corporation were divided, leaving Budějovický Budvar to be established.  Initially, the brewery dedicated itself to exports that were primarily based on the heritage associated with Budweiser, assuming the that trademark would suffice.  By 1990, the brewery was pumping out triple the annual beer production that they had in the past.

To date, many different types of beer are brewed at the Budweiser Budvar brewery.  Everything from draft beer to lager, to dark lager is available.

 

Staropramen

In 1869, a new brewery was founded in the Prague quarter of Smíchov.  It was in that brewery that a new brand of beer was developed and named Staropramen.  In 1911, the Pivovary Staropramen brand was registered and to this day, is the second-largest beer producer in the Czech Republic.  Pivovary Staropramen still holds 14% of the market, focusing on light draft beer and light lager, with a few specialty beers like Velvet, Granát, and Kelt.

 

Bernadr

During the sixteenth century, a family brewery in Humpolec was established but eventually lay dormant for many years.  In 1991, the Bernadr Brewery opened privately, becoming the first purely private brewery opened after 1989. When Duvel Moortgat of Belgium decided to present the brewery with a donation in 2000, the brewery again began to flourish, specializing in the only non-pasteurized beer products that are currently sold on the market.  Their choices include light, slightly dark and specialty dark beers.

 

Starobrno

Starobrno is a celebrity brewery, in that it is the largest and is known by more people than any other.  Starobrno offers a wide variety of light beer along with several draft beers, but it is the specialty beers that give the brewery its celebrity appeal; specifically, the Baron Trenek 14-degree beer and the Červený drak (Red Dragon) 15-degree red beer.

In addition, there are some small family breweries that are allied with the Czech Union of Small Independent Breweries. Of these, some of the better known brands 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 Pivovar a restaurace u Fleků s.r.o. in Prague.

 

Lobkowicz

Lobkowicz is one of the oldest Czech beers as it originated in the mid-1400’s (1466 to be exact) and was developed under a family of aristocrats, of which the beer gains its namesake. About 60000 hectoliters are produced at Lobkowicz each year.  Lobkowicz prides itself on the quality ingredients that are used to make the beer.  These ingredients include water from their own artesian wells.  In addition, the barley used for the beer is grown in an area that is ecologically pure. Lobkowicz is considered to be a small brewery that holds a capacity of 120 000 hectoliters, however, the brewery insists that its main market lies within preserving the classic Czech beer and how it is produced. The brand names that are produced at this brewery are Lobkowicz and Démon.

 

Becherovka

Jan Becher produces this drink according to a traditional secret recipe, without adding any chemical preservatives, artificial colors or emulsifiers. Becherovka is an herbal liqueur that is produced by Jan Becher according to a secret recipe.  There are no preservatives or colors added, and the liqueur is simply made of a special water that comes from spa town of Karlovy Vary, high-quality ethanol, natural sugar, and a secret but perfect mixture of herbs and spices. Becherovka is so sought after that it has been called the “13th spring” at the spas at Karlovy Vary.

 

Mineral water

Mattoni is the most well-known mineral water that is used throughout Czech.  Pronounced “Matonka,” the water originates in a group of healing springs that lie near the town of Karlovy Vary. Mattoni, however, is not the only mineral water product that is produced in Czech.  Other waters include Korunní, Bonaqua, Magnesii. The chemicals in the water are said to be quite healthy and the minerals provide a variety of benefits to those who drink the water.

 

Olomouc curd cheese

While drinks from Czech are quite popular, there are several other delicacies that are a delicious addition to anyone’s palate.  One of those delicacies is curd cheese, also called syrečky; the most popular being from the town of Olomouc.  There have been records found that show the production of cheese curds back to the 16th century.

The name Genuine Olomouc has been registered as an internationally protected designation of origin, and represents the only original cheese from Czech. Mr. Alois Wessel founded the company and has produced the cheese since the late 1800s. Nearly 2000 tons of this cheese is produced each year.
Fat-free sour curd is the main ingredient that is used to make the cheese.  There are not any preservatives involved and one of the most important ingredients is salt, which adds to taste and helps to produce the cheese properly.  It doesn’t have much fat and is packed full of protein and active cultures.

 

Transportation and machinery

Cars

There are less than five motor vehicle manufacturers in the world that have been around for more than a century.  Of those manufacturers, one is from Czech. Škoda was founded in 1895 with no purpose other than becoming a business that would sustain a family.  The entrepreneurs, Laurin and Klement, started by creating bicycles and then moved on to motorcycles.  By 1905, the duo became the first to create a Limousine. In the late 1920s, they merged with Škoda Plzen and mass production ensued.

Some of the ideologies that made the company so successful were the extremely artistic details that they added on to their vehicles. World War II almost brought production to a halt, but the company was persistent enough to sustain development after the fall of Hitler’s revolution. Eventually, Škoda Auto became the fourth member of Volkswagen. Škoda currently has about 20,000 employees and production hits around 500,000 cars every year.

 

Tramcars

The typical automobile is not the only thing that is produced at Škoda.  The company employs more than 2500 people and also participates in the production of transportation equipment, specifically tramcars. They also create tools, lathes, milling and drilling equipment.
Škoda Power is the part of the company that is responsible for the production of machine parts that are created specifically for steam turbines and heat exchangers.

 

Radars

Pardubice is a Czech town on the edge of the Elbe river that hosts a company that creates radars.  The radars produced here are sought after by various military sectors throughout the world, including the United States.  One of the main items that are produced in Pardubice is the VERA-E passive surveillance system.  In some situations, the VERA surveillance system can even see things that are invisible; in that it has actually picked up the United States’ invisible airplane called Stealth.

 

Surveillance and defence systems

Radars aren’t the only thing that is produced in the Czech Republic that are sought after by various military sectors.  Another company called VTÚL a PVO manufactures the SOJKA pilot-free surveillance airplane.  This is an airplane that was created for reconnaissance activities or to be used as a flying target. It is ranked it among the top products of its class around the world. The SOJKA has a radius that stretches up to 100 kilometers, can fly for 3.5 hours at a time and has a wing span of less than 4 meters.

 

Parachute gliders

Another useful item that is produced in the Czech Republic is the paraglider, also called parachute gliders.  The manufacturers that create these paragliders are up to date on what is trending and use a state of the art technology called Macpara to design their products.

 

Other products

Petrof Pianos

Continuing the tradition of handcrafted and artistic creations, Petrof Pianos, a company that operates out of Hradec Králové continues to create beauty with their pianos.  Established in 1864 by Antonín Petrof, has become the most widespread piano manufacturer in Europe.

At the factory in Hradec Králové, there are over one-thousand employees that participate in the manufacturing five core types of grand pianos, each one different.  Only the most skilled employees are allowed to participate in the production of concert grand pianos, a process that is not mass produced, each one created individually. The company is still managed by the fifth generation of the Petrof family.

Over the years, the master grand pianos created by Petrof have been the most sought after pianos in the music world and yearned for by many renowned composers.  Plácido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti have both used Petrof pianos while performing in Czech Republic. The pianos have also been featured in concerts at the Vatican.

 

Baťa shoes

Founded in 1894 by Tomáš Baťa, The Baťa footwear company that was built by shoemaker from Zlín along with his siblings Antonín and Anna. With a staff of 50,000 employees and 50 production plants in 68 countries around the world, The Baťa footwear company has sold over 221 million pairs of shoes.

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