Sister Cities

Regensburg, Germany

Regensburg, Germany

Regensburg, also Ratisbon, Latin: Ratisbon, Czech: Rezno, originally Castra Regina, a fortress on the Regen River. It is the fourth largest city in Bavaria and the Bavarian government administrative center of the district of Upper Palatinate.

Mayor: Joachim WOLBERGS

City Council: 50 members, including the mayor and deputy

HISTORY

As early as 500 BC, there was a Celtic settlement and early AD Roman Legion fortress called Castra Regina here. From this period, the year 179, comes one of the most important local landmarks -the Porta Praetoria gateway, which is also the oldest tall structure in Germany. From approximately 530 to the mid-13th century Regensburg was the capital of Bavaria and the construction of the famous Stone Bridge across the Danube(1135-11460)dates back to this period. The bridge opened up a major international trade route between Northern Europe and Venice,  launching a period of prosperity for the town, which became the cultural center of southern Germany. In 845 14 Czech noblemen were accepted into Regensburg Christianity and  the Prague diocese was later established thanks in part to a significant contribution by the  bishopric here. In 1245 Emperor Frederick II. granted the city the right to self-government and Regensburg remained a free imperial city until the year 1803. The ancient town hall was the seat of the Permanent Imperial Council from 1636 to 1806.

Surrounding villages were annexed  to create a larger Regensburg in 1946, and in 1967 teaching began at the fourth provincial university in Bavaria.  Major dates in recent years include 1992, when the Rhine-Main-Danube canal began operating and the university clinic opened.  Two recent major events -the visit of Pope Benedict XVI on September 12, 2006 and the awarding of UNESCO World Heritage Site certification on November 24,2007 were also attended by representatives of the city of Pilsen.

GEOGRAPHY AND DEMOGRAPHY

LOCATION: The city is situated at the confluence of the Danube and Regen Rivers at the northernmost bend in the Danube. To the east lies the Bavarian Forest. Its coordinates are: 49° 01' north latitude and 12° 06' east longitude.

AREA: 80.70 km2

POPULATION: 131,000

CLIMATE: Central

ECONOMY

The town is a center of electronic, electrical, and engineering companies, car manufacturing as well as an important center for information and communication technologies, biotechnology and sensors. Every third BMW rolls off the belt in Regensburg, and the company Infineon is a leading manufacturer of microchips for mobile phones.Other companies based here include Dallmeier electronic, Siemens, Osram Opto and the oldest sugar factory in Bavaria. Other economic sectors are tourism, transport and hospitality.

EDUCATION

Higher:

CULTURE AND TOURISM

MUSEUMS – In addition to the State and Historical Museums, there are 10 others, e.g., a clock museum and a Danube navigation museum.

GALLERY – Municipal Gallery Leerer Beutel, Ostdeutsche Gallery, exhibition space in the courtyard of the Thon-Dittmer Palace and several galleries, including a large exhibition area in the Donau shopping center

THEATER – The City Theater and The Theater am Heidplatz, in the summer season theater in the courtyard of the Thon-Dittmer Palace, other smaller theaters and performance venues

LIBRARY – The University Library and The Municipal Library, which is divided between a central part and four branches

TOURISTS - 42 accommodation facilities with 4,260 beds, campgrounds  hostels and 720 dining establishments are all available to visitors to our city.

SPORT

The city operates 119 sporting associations with 44,600 members. The biggest sporting facilities include a football stadium with seats for 12,000 spectators, Donau-Arena with two indoor ice surfaces and seats for 5000 spectators. In addition to other sports and sports halls, there are centers and facilities for sports shooting, canoeing, equestrian sports, bowling and billiards.

TRADITIONAL EVENTS CITY PARTNERSHIP

BÜRGERFEST Burgher celebration - every odd year in late June

BACHWOCHE - Bach Music Week in June

THURN UND TAXIS SCHLOSSFESTSPIELE - summer festival in the castle Thurn and Taxis

KURZFILMWOCHE - Short Film Week in November

CHRISTMAS MARKETS during Advent with various themes

Advent concerts by the boys choir Regensburger Domspatzen in St Peter's Cathedral

CITY PARTNERS OF REGENSBURG

HISTORY OF PILSEN – REGENSBURG RELATIONS

A partnership agreement between the two cities was signed in Pilsen on September 25, 1993 by the then mayor Professor Zdenek Mracek and the mayor of Regensburg, Mrs. Christa Meier.

In the period since the signing of the contract there has been a complete series of events, such as art exhibitions, music performances, workshops for representatives of both municipalities , individual and long-term cooperation between schools and the like. As part of this collaboration there have been numerous exchanges, which include, among others, holiday visits by students from Pilsen to gatherings of children from the sister cities of Regensburg and inviting acting and official representatives of the city of Pilsen to bi-annual Regensburg festivals . Major projects include the creation of the Coordination Centre of Czech-German Youth Exchange called Tandem (founded in 1997), which has offices in Pilsen and Regensburg. In 2007 another long-term project began - a regional association called Regiopol was established for Western and Southern Bohemia - Upper Austria - East Bavaria.

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Winterthur, Switzerland

Winterthur, Switzerland

Winterthur is a small industrial city that has been revitalizing old industrial areas to serve new purposes since the 1990s. It’s abundance of greenery offers opportunities for relaxation and bicycles are very popular here. Winterthur boasts very sophisticated bicycle routes.

In the center there are many well-preserved buildings from the 16th to 18 century.

There are 17 museums, and the extensive art collection of Oskar Reinhart and the technology park Technorama are internationally acclaimed.

CITY LEADERSHIP

President (Mayor): Michael KÜNZLE

City Council: President and 6 councilors

City council: 60 representatives, 12 political parties, the majority is held by the Swiss People's Party (SVP) with 13 seats, while the Social Democratic Party (SP) has 9 seats.

HISTORY

Winterthur is a small industrial city. It was built and inhabited as early as 1150, but it wasn’t until 1264 that it gained city status from Rudolf von Habsburg. In 1467 the town was annexed by Zurich and not independent until after Napoleon in 1798. Since then, Winterthur has developed rapidly, mainly through banking, railways and the growth and expansion of corporations.

In the 1990s one of the largest employers was the Sulzer company which complex was converted into today‘s Technopark. In the center is preserved Kyburg castle, chateau Hegi and many buildings from the 16th to 18 century.

GEOGRAPHY AND DEMOGRAPHY

LOCATION: CANTON ZÜRICH
The city is located in the German-speaking part of Switzerland, on the northwest edge of the Zurich Highlands. Rail and road connections are excellent: It’s only a 20-minute train ride from Zurich, where airport connections are possible. The rivers Eulach and Töss flow through the city .

SIZE: 68 km2

POPULATION: more than 100,000 – 6th largest city in Switzerland

CLIMATE: Altitude ranges from 393 to 687 meters a.s.l.

ECONOMY

4,300 companies are located in the city, employing 50,000.

This former center of industrial engineering is slowly becoming more of a service-oriented city, but one that sees its future in research and environmentally friendly products.

Research institutes, Technopark represented by 25 companies, Clusters Mechatronik is considering expansion, IT, biotechnology and medical technology

EDUCATION

CULTURE AND TOURISM

The city is home to seventeen museums, and the art collection of Oskar Reinhart and Technology Park Technorama have achieved international fame.

There are about six theaters- including one puppet theater, eight cultural centers, of which the best- known is the multicultural center Alte Kaserne, as well as a regional and city library.

SPORT

Handball, curling, active youth hockey: Moskito team (possible replacements)

ATTRACTIONS

In 2004, Dr. Phil. Martin Haas, longtime president of Winterthur, was awarded the Seal of the City of Pilsen.

TRADITIONAL SISTER CITY EVENTS

Spring:
- Afro-Pfingsten – festival, including concerts, movies, art, workshops, markets, culinary and literary events, etc.
- WOGA:  housing and gardening exposition

Summer:
- Kyburgiáda - concerts in the castle Kyburg
- Festival of Music

Autumn:
- International Festival of Music
- Theatre Ball
- International Film Festival

CITY PARTNERS OF WINTERTHUR

HISTORY OF RELATIONS PLZEŇ – WINTERTHUR

The sisiter cities contract  was signed in March 1994, but as early as 1991 the "Declaration on the mutual willingness to cooperate“ was signed.

After the year 1989 and visits by the President  to several larger cities in the former Czechoslovakia, Winterthur chose Pilsen chose as a partner city. The then president was a historian and was impressed by what he saw in Plzen. An integral part of the decision for the partnership was the obvious common features of both cities (at the time, both cities were home to major industrial complexes, had common interests, and offered concurring opinions to the then representatives of both cities). The President of Winterthur offered the city of Pilsen assistance during the post-revolution period, in the early days of the formation of the new city government. During this period,Winterthur made a significant contribution, namely by offering professional assistance in setting up the basic structure of the city government. Over the years, active cooperation has increased between experts from various departments of the municipalities, such as funding and budget, education, as well as the social and labor offices. One of the themes of bilateral technical discussions was issues concerning drug prevention and city police. There were mutual official visits by representatives of both cities, and cooperation increased, namely in the area of culture: art exhibitions, concerts, almost annual performance by the DJKT Opera, which has become a tradition in Winterthur, and continued cooperation with the Pilsen Conservatory.

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Takasaki, Japan

Takasaki, Japan

Since ancient times Takasaki has prospered as a city lying on a major transportation route. Currently, the Shinkansen Express connects the highway with a nationwide road network and as a transportation center just 50 minutes from the suburbs of Tokyo is also an important trading center. As one of the few regional cities Takasaki boasts its own symphony orchestra. Takasaki is surrounded by beautiful mountains and visitors will appreciate the numerous thermal baths, which are ideal for rest and relaxation. A typical souvenir is a good luck Daruma doll.

CITY LEADERSHIP

Mayor: Kenji TOMIOKA

City Assembly: 46 members

Advisory Commission City Council: 4 (areas: education, construction, economy, general affairs, including international relations)

HISTORY

Archaeological discoveries of ancient settlements near Takasaki have indicated that the area was inhabited as early as 1400 years ago. During the Edo period (1600 - 1860) in Takasaki, thanks to its position as a castle stronghold, it became a center of trade and with a growing population . The original township was granted town status in 1900. After World War II, the town continued to grow as an industrial center with an extensive transport system.

The center is focused on industrial production and bustles with business activity, while the suburbs of Kurabuci offer peace and quiet, as well as natural beauty. A number of concerts, amusement parks, festivals and other cultural events offer residents countless opportunities to relax and to be entertained in a variety of ways

GEOGRAPHY AND DEMOGRAPHY

LOCATION: Prefectures (REGION): Gunma

Takasaki is located on the Kanto plain on the island of Honshu, about 100 km north of Tokyo ...boundaries between Saitama and Nagano prefectures and over 100 km from the famous center of winter sports in the foothills of the Northern Japanese Alps, Nagano, a place which recalls the legendary triumph of our Czech national hockey team at the 1998 Olympics.

In the area, there are several high peaks / former volcanoes: Haruna (to the NW) with a crater lake and hot springs (used as a spa), Akagi (elev.1828 m, to the NE), Myoga (elev.1423 m, to the SW).

AREA: 460 km2

POPULATION: 370,000
In January 2006, the city of Takasaki merged with the cities of Gunma, Misato and Šinmaci, as well as the village of Kurabuci, and in 2009 it annexed the city of Yoshi. The population thus increased from 240,000 to the current 370 000.

CLIMATE:
- Annual average temperature of about 14° C (7,8° C Pilsen)
- Average annual rainfall of about 1400 mm (495 mm in Pilsen)
- In the surrounding mountains, 2 m of snow in winter is common.

ECONOMY

The manufacturing of dolls for good luck: DARUMA dolls

The Japanese wine sake (rice wine and water) is produced exclusively using traditional Makino. The water, which is extremely important in the production of sake, comes from springs in the Haruna Mountains that give Takasaki sake its traditional and harmonious flavor.

Products from Japanese plums: plum wine, plum juice and pickled plums. Takasaki is number one in eastern Japan in the production volume and acreage of plum orchards.

Wheat products:

- Special UDON noodles, which are popular for their flexibility and softness and are an important ingredient in one of the typical Japanese soups

- IKIRIKOMI, which is made with thick wheat noodles, white radishes, sweet potatoes and other vegetables, is another Japanese specialty.

Products colored with natural dyes

Healthfood products - Company: Otsuka

ECOLOGY

It is necessary to make difficult reinforcements of banks by rivers and streams in an area with steep slopes, unstable rocks and high rainfall. Instead of using concrete bank reinforcements, grass surfaces combined with stone steps are being implemented. They are accompanied by walkways along the river. In this flat city many people ride bikes, all (even narrow)paths are divided into lanes for pedestrians and cyclists.

EDUCATION

University of Economics with faculties of economics and regional policy (2700 students)

Schools for lower and middle education

Emphasis in Takasaki is placed on environmental education. There are various forms of child-rearing that lead to an understanding of nature and the environment (knowledge of nature, work in city forests and forest parks, stays in log cabins in city forests with equipment for games, as well as planting  seedlings, doing forestry work, etc.). It continues with the preparation of young  candidates for voluntary work in nature conservation, parks, etc.

CULTURE AND TOURISM

MUSEUMS: Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art prefecture (works of Chagall, Monet and local artists Yuasa Ichiro, Ichiro Fukuzawa and Kaoru Yamaguchi, regional (prefectural) Museum of History

GALLERY: The Takasaki City Gallery

THE TAKASAKI CULTURAL CENTER: planetarium, a children's science museum, public library, cultural hall, community center offering numerous activities, including English classes and monthly meetings that are organized by The Organization for International Relations. The Japanese are even interested in the Czech language, so Czech are offered, based on the availability of tutors.

MUSIC:
Gunma Philharmonic Orchestra - Philharmonic Orchestra of the Gunma Prefecture

Gunma Music Center –The Gunma Prefecture Music Center is the home of The Gunma Philharmonic Orchestra

The Yorimasa Daiko Ensemble - a unique group of Japanese drummers, who perform composed pieces using choreography, stories and light shows. They use a variety of drums, from small drums and  traditional taiko drums to huge drums, which are played (with considerable physical effort) with sticks the size of baseball bats. The ensemble performed on the square in Pilsen in 1996 and attracted thousands of visitors to its impressive performance.

HOT SPRINGS - the area is known for its therapeutic thermal springs.

SPORT

Softball, rugby, baseball, athletics, tennis, football, archery, martial arts (Kendo, Aikido, Karate, etc.), volleyball, handball, boxing, basketball, badminton, fencing, etc.
Many facilities for different kinds of sports.

ATTRACTIONS

TRADITIONAL JAPANESE ART COLORING USING NATURAL DYES
Specialized botanical garden with an exhibition of art coloring with natural dyes and opportunities for the public to learn the art of dyeing with natural dyes. –the first Japanese botanical garden of its kind, 15,000 trees and plants, . From these it is possible to extract natural fabrics for dyeing that have been used in different periods throughout history dye and batik materials and wool. The garden is part of the park Kannonyama (Kannon - Goddess of Mercy).

KANNONYAMA a large forest park with a statue of the Goddess Kannon-a viewing  tower,Shintao Buddhist temples, rock galleries, a traditional Japanese garden, Sakura grove, an educational bird trail, with a network of trails and a suspension bridge, with an entertainment center (Ferris wheel, carousel, etc.),shopping area with traditional Japanese products and restaurants.

The statue of the goddess Kannon, the goddess of mercy, is 42 meters high. Inside, there are 20 statues of Buddha.The statue also serves as a viewing point of the town and its surroundings. You can climb up to its shoulders.

DARUMA DOLLS
One of the best-known products from the city of Takasaki is the Daruma doll, which is said to bring good luck. Japanese entrust them with their wishes and paint the left eye black. If the wish comes true, they express their thanks by painting the right eye black as well. The main feature of the Daruma Dolls is eyebrows in the shape of a crane and a mustache depicting a turtle. The crane and tortoise are symbols of longevity.

More than 1.2 million are produced annually, while 80% of them are sold domestically.

Daruma dolls are already in the hands of many Pilseners, who repeatedly visited the Takasaki stand at the International Tourism Fair ITEP in Pilsen in 2006, 2007 and 2008 or participated in the opening of Days of Japanese Culture in Pilsen in 2007 and received a doll as a gift. Large half-meter tall Daruma dolls were donated by the city of Takasaki to the city of Pilsen and the Pilsen Region.

Every year on 6 and 7 January, THE SHÓRINZAN DARUMA ICHI FESTIVAL is held here, along with a doll market by the SHÓRINZAN TEMPLE. The temple is the CENTRE OF THE DARUMA TRADITION - Bodhídarma (an Indian propagator of Zen Buddhism in China, from where the tradition spread to Japan). Shórinzan temple monks read sutras 24 hours and pray for world peace.  Several hundred thousand visitors come to see this place. In the temple, two large statues with inscriptions about the fulfilled wishes of prime-minister candidates from Takasaki who then won elections (the recent  Prime Minister of Japan from 2008 Mr. Fukuda comes from Takasaki) are deposited here.

THE NEW CITY HALL BUILDING
In May 1998, a new municipal office building /city hall /, which captivates with its height, its modern appearance, and easy access to citizens. The city of Takasaki is attempting to build an international community based on the harmonious coexistence of city residents with the natural environment. The building is situated and designed to handle frequent and heavy winds. It is situated in a former castle. On the top floor is an observation corridor featuring drawings of various views of the city, as well as a restaurant. The building has a meeting room for the emergency task force , from where it is possible to monitor the current situation far and wide using cameras mounted on the roof (with the possibility of zooming in perfectly on the place to be viewed ), meeting rooms and lounges for visitors and citizens‘ meetings with the mayor,  counters open to the public and offering access to trade union office space, a huge vestibule the ground floor with a projection wall that constantly shows  informative films and sometimes small concerts. There is also a permanent exhibit about Takasaki‘s partner cities.

TRADITIONAL SISTER CITIES EVENTS

6th and 7 January
- Shorinzan Daruma Ichi Festival: Festival market with well-known idols / Daruma dolls for good luck

February
- Festival of plum / Misato ume matsuri

March
- Festival of plum blossoms / Haruna ume matsuri

End of March
- Takasaki Film Festival

Beginning of April
- Shinmachi Festival of blossoming Sakura trees

5th May
- Fun mountain climbing on Tsunoochiyama Mountain

End of May
- Mystic Japanese Traditional Music Concert / Music stage of the Haruna Temple

Last Sunday in July
- Summer Festival Misato Furusato natsu matsuri

Last Saturday and Sunday in August
- Summer Festival Takasaki-matsuri

Early October
- Takasaki "live" festival - Takamatsu-cho district

First Sunday in October
- Minowa no sato - Festival " fox marriages"

End of October and beginning of November
- Music Festival

November
- Thanksgiving to Takasaki Ebisu - god of wealth and trade
- Commercial and Agricultural Festival

Other festivals:
- International Festival
- Traditional theater takigi-feet
- Festival of marching bodies

SUMMER in Takasaki culminates each year with the AUGUST SUMMER FESTIVAL TAKASAKI-MATSURI
A parade of festival vehicles and portable temples passes through the town and is accompanied by traditional music and shouts of encouragement. The evening sky is lit up by fireworks along the banks of The Karasugawy River. The city comes alive with portable saints (Mikoshi), traditional floats (DASI), and a traditional music festival (Ohajaši).

CITY PARTNERS OF TAKASAKI

HISTORY OF THE PILSEN – TAKASAKI PARTNERSHIP

The Kirin Brewery in Takasaki and the brewery in Pilsen have long-lasting technical and economic relations. The agreement to establish a partnership between the two cities was based on this fact. The partnership agreement was signed on August 1, 1990.

Cooperation takes place mainly  through a series of cultural events, exhibitions and performances in both cities:

- In Takasaki: numerous very successful performances by The Alfa Theatre, puppet workshops, tours by The J.K. Tyl Theatre, performances by the large  Pilsen Conservatory Wind Orchestra, guest Czech musicians playing with the Gunma Symphony Orchestra, an exhibition of Czech glass and decorative arts;

- in Pilsen: A concert by the unique group of Japanese drummers called Yorimasa Daiko in Pilsen, an exhibition featuring Japanese artists in Pilsen: artist Mr.Okamoto and Mr.Issui Yamamoto  - calligraphy, artist Hisako Ymai and Reiko Seki - a textile exhibition called "Dyeing Art", an exhibition of children's drawings from the Takasaki in the PilsenTown Hall as well as the Paletka Gallery, and Days of Japanese Culture in Pilsen (2004, 2007).

With regard to cooperation in environmental matters, one of the main pillars of cooperation is the hexilateral (participation 6 cities) environmental exchange program. It began in 1995 as the Pentalateral program and in 2006 expanded to include an additional, sixth new member- Muntinlupa City,the Philippines. The project was approved by the mayors of six cities (Takasaki, Japan; Santo André, Brazil; Battle Creek, USA; Chengde, China; Pilsen, the Czech Republic and Muntinlupa, Philippines) and extended for the period from 2008 - 2012. It was agreed that the Hexalateral program would be organized annually in these cities, according to the following timetable: 2007 in Chengde, 2008 in Santo André, 2009 in Plzeň, 2010 in Muntinlupa, 2011 in Battle Creek, and 2012 in Takasaki.

Another effort that showed respect and true partnership was a fund drive by residents of Takasaki to help repair the damages incurred by the Pilseners as a result of floods in 2002.

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Limoges, France

Limoges, France

Limoges is located in north-central France in the region of Limousin. Its inhabitants are called Limougeauds.

CITY LEADERSHIP

Mayor: Alain RODET

The city council is composed of 55 members (including members of the City Council.)

HISTORY

Limoges is a city of porcelain and glazes that were produced here for the French upper class for centuries.

Although it was founded by the Romans as early as the last decade BC, the greatest development was recorded in the 13th century AD, mainly due to the local bishopric.

With the bishopric already established and the discovery of kaolin deposits nearby, the town began to develop porcelain and mosaics. This business provided the city with a graceful and charming beauty. Traces of the merchant craft can be seen all over the city, the dominant feature being a fountain adorned with a porcelain mosaic.

GEOGRAPHY AND DEMOGRAPHY

Limoges is a city in midwestern France, and is the seat of the department prefecture of Haute Vienne and the Limousin region of Administration. It is situated on the Vienne River, 220 kilometers northeast of Bordeaux and about 400 km south of Paris.

POPULATION: 137,502 (as of 2005)

LOCATION: Midwest France

AREA: 7942 ha (680 ha green)

POPULATION: 137,502 (as of 2005)

CLIMATE:  Limousin is a region in the central part of France and is rightly called the green heart of France. It is a land of trees, water and clean air. This region is located on the western slopes of the volcanic Central Highlands (Massif Central) and almost all of its territory is covered by forests,  interlaced by rivers  and dotted with mirror lakes.

ECONOMY

Limoges is famous thanks to porcelain and glaze, but the city's name is also linked with electronics, ceramics, paper and leather.

EDUCATION (SCHOOL IMPORTANT EDUCATIONAL CENTRE)

The University of Limoges is one of the most respected universities in France. It consists of five faculties and three institutes:

CULTURE AND TOURISM

Since 2008, the city of Limoges has been called a "City of Art and History."

The most famous cultural facilities of the city are:
- Francophone media library
- number of museums
- Conservatory

Residents and visitors can take advantage of several cultural centers.

SPORT

The city of Limoges organizes every Wednesday sports afternoon. Children aged 4-11 years are welcome to learn about free sports, such as swimming, gymnastics, soccer, volleyball, table tennis and badminton. In the city there are several recreational centers where you can sign up for sports courses throughout the year.

ATTRACTIONS (WITH PICTURES)

The city is famous for its large number of monuments, of which the best known are:

- the birthplace of A. Renoir
- The National Museum Adriana Dubouche
- St.Stephen's Cathedral
- Botanical Garden
- Municipal Museum of glazes and enamels
- Chapel of St. Aurelian
- Bernardaud manufactory, Studio Mosaics

TRADITIONAL EVENTS CITY PARTNERSHIP

January-February:
- Biennial Dance

March-April:
- Celebration of books, Carnival

May:
- Traditional Fair at Saint-Loup, fair
- An exhibition presenting the city of Limoges and Limousin region

June:
- Music Festival

July-August:
- Exhibitions, folklore performances

September:
- Heritage Day
- Festival "Les Francophonies en Limousin"

October-November:
- Gastronomic feast of "La Frairie des Petits Ventres"
- Jazz festival "Les d'Eclats Email"

December:
- Traditional markets "Saints-Innocents"

CITY PARTNERS OF LIMOGES

HISTORY OF PILSEN – LIMOGES RELATIONS

Partnership agreement between Pilsen and Limoges was signed in 1966. It was renewed on 6 June 1987 and the two cities wrote an agreement on the development of relations and cooperation on 13 April 1999.

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Liège, Belgium

Liège, Belgium

The city of Liège (French Liège, Wallonia Lîdje, Dutch Luik and German Lüttich) is the capital city of the province of Liège in eastern Belgium.

It is the administrative center of the province and the region. Located in the east of Belgium near the border with the Netherlands and Germany, 25 km south of Maastricht (the Netherlands) and 40 km west of Aachen (Germany). It is part of the Meuse-Rhine Euroregion, with a population 3.7 million inhabitants. It is a major economic and cultural center of Wallonia.

CITY LEADERSHIP

Mayor: Willy DEMEYER

The City Council comprises the mayor, 9 deputies and the president of CPAS (Public Centre for Social Affairs)

City Assembly: 49 members (including even members of the City Council.)

HISTORY

According to archaeological research, the territory of Liège was inhabited as early as 200,000 years ago. The history of the city itself begins around the year 705, when Maastricht Bishop St. Lambert was murdered in the town. With the approval of the Pope, his successor St. Hubert moved the seat of the bishopric from Maastricht to Liège and became the first bishop of the Bishopric of Liège. It later became the capital of the Principality and Bishopric of Liège, which existed from 980 to 1795. In 1795, the principality and bishopric was annexed by France, and after the Battle of Waterloo, it became part of the United Dutch Kingdom. Since the Belgian revolution in 1830 (a rebellion against the Dutch king in Brussels),the city has been  part of Belgium.

GEOGRAPHY AND DEMOGRAPHY

LOCATION: The city of Liège, Lutych in Czech, is located in the eastern part of Belgium.

SIZE: The Liège metropolitan area covers an area of 265 km2, making it the largest urban area in Wallonia and the third largest conurbation in Belgium (after Brussels and Antwerp).

POPULATION: 190,000 live in Liege proper, while the greater conurbation of Liège has approximately 600,000 inhabitants

CLIMATE: Belgium has a temperate oceanic climate, which is characterized by mild winters, very hot summers and high rainfall throughout the year.

ECONOMY

EDUCATION (SCHOOL IMPORTANT EDUCATIONAL CENTRE)

The city is home to the only public francophone university in Belgium, founded in 1817.

The University of Liège offers degrees in nine faculties:

On March 29, 2007 in Liège, the University awarded an honorary doctorate to Václav Havel for his lifelong efforts to promote shared responsibility of the individual for the state of society and the world. Ambassador to Belgium V. Müller gave representatives of universities a letter of thanks from Vaclav Havel. In his gratitude for the honorary doctorate Vaclav Havel focused on the theme of the coexistence of various  globally connected civilizations and cultures and the position of Europe in relation to these connections.

CULTURE AND TOURISM

SPORT

Liège is not only a cultural metropolis, but has plenty to offer to athletes as well.  Its numerous parks and the river banks of the Meuse River are ideal for walking or cycling trips. Probably the best view for tourists is from the old citadel, which top can be reached by climbing 373 stairs. As for the natural beauty around Liège, Sart Tilman Nature Reserve, which covers an area of 240 hectares, is a must-see. There it is possible to admire a variety of animals and plants. Families with children will enjoy the opportunity to visit the city botanical gardens.

ATTRACTIONS

March 2009
- Official opening of the Grand Curtius Museum

year 2008 - 2009
- The participation of renowned scientists, philosophers, politicians at international conferences

CITY PARTNERS OF LIÈGE

HISTORY OF PILSEN–LIÈGE RELATIONS

After the liberation of Pilsen in 1945 representatives of the 17th Rifle Regiment, who were part of the U.S. military, approached Pilsen city leaders with a proposal to establish a partnership with the city of Liège, where the founders of the 17th Rifle regiment came from.

First contacts were established in 1947 and continued until 1965, when a partnership agreement was signed in Pilsen between the two cities. But in subsequent years, the cooperation didn’t develop much, probably because of diminished interest from the city of Pilsen.

After 1989, the representatives of the 17th Rifle Regiment began to visit Pilsen regularly each year to celebrate the liberation of the city and the end of World War II in 1945. Belgian veterans also tried to revive the mutual contacts. They established a literary competition called the Jan Palach Award for French-speaking students. They were at the inception of the idea of a partnership between St. Bartholemew‘s Cathedrals in both Liège and Pilsen and  maintained constant contact with the leadership of both cities.

In 2007, delegations of representatives of the City of Pilsen visited Liège in order to restore relations and determine the future of the partnership.

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Žilina, Slovakia

Žilina, Slovakia

THE CITY LEADERSHIP

Mayor: Peter Fiabáne

Deputy Mayor: Vladimír Randa, Barbora Birnerová

City Council: 19 to 31 members (currently 31)

HISTORY

The first mention of the settlement that is now Žilina dates back to 500 AD. The town was founded before the year 1300, and  in the year 1321 the town was granted the privilege of a free royal city.

The town experienced a boom in the 19th century when the Bratislava-Košice railway was completed and the first big industrial companies were based here e.g., today’s Slovena Company.

The city has many historical monuments.

The historical core of the city was declared an urban conservation area in 1987. The most historically and architecturally valuable part ot the city is the area around the 100x 100-meter Marianske square. There are many buildings on the square with gothic pubs in their cellars and Renaissance upper floors from the 16th and 17th century. The Žilina Town Hall, also on the square, was first mentioned as early as 1433. On the west side of the square is St.Paul’s Baroque Church and Jesuit monastery.

GEOGRAPHY AND DEMOGRAPHY

LOCATION: The city of Žilina is the center of north-western Slovakia. It is located in the Žilina Valley, at the confluence of the rivers Vah and Kysuca Rajčianka.

SIZE: about 80 km2

POPULATION: about 85,000

CLIMATE: Central European

ECONOMY

Žilina, along with the Žilina Region, consistently ranks no.2 or 3 in the Slovak Republic  in gross domestic product per capita.

The main industries in Zilina are: machining, automobile production (Žilina is home to a modern KIA automobile  plant), metallurgy, construction, wood processing, paper, as well as the chemical, electrical, electronics, textile, food processing, and energy industries.

Tourism is developing rapidly.

The city is an important railway junction and is located on a major highway network. There is also an international airport with regular flights to Prague.

EDUCATION

Higher education:

University of Žilina (until 1996 called the University of Transport and Communications)
- seven faculties, over 12,000 students
- many fields of study, of which information technology and telecommunications are the most important

Secondary schools:

- 5 schools
- 16 secondary technical and vocational schools
- Conservatory
- language school (number of students and the quality of teaching make it one of the largest of its kind in the Slovak Republic)

Since 1989, a number of private and religious schools have been established.

CULTURE AND TOURISM

MUSEUMS
Považské Museum in Zilina – Exposition on the Zilina region
Museum of Jewish Culture - an exhibition on Jewish culture
Dom Lombardini - a private museum

GALLERIES
Považská Gallery of Art in Žilina - permanent exhibit of works by Vincent Hloznik
Gallery M - primarily the sale of works of art

THEATER
Municipal Theatre Žilina - aimed mainly at adult audiences
Žilina Puppet Theatre - the oldest professional puppet theater in the Slovak Republic

LIBRARY
Regional Library in Žilina

MUSIC INSTITUTIONS
Žilina State Chamber Orchestra - a music institution for listeners of classical music

OTHER CULTURAL INSTITUTIONS
Station Žilina-Záriečie - independent cultural institution
Regional cultural center in Žilina
Považská observatory in Žilina
Dom Matica Slovenska

SPORTS

SPORTS HALL
Playing surface 4.500 m2, capacity up to 6000 seats

SWIMMING AREA
Three Fifty-meter olympic-sized pools -1 indoor and 2 outdoor

FOOTBALL STADIUM MŠK ŽILINA
Stadium with a total capacity of 10,000 seats as a result of several reconstructions and is expected to be one of the best football stadiums in the Slovak Republic.

Due to the geographical location of Žilina (it is a gateway to four national parks - Low Tatras, United Fatra, TANAP and  NAPANT) tourism and winter sports options, e.g., cross country and downhill skiing sports, are plentiful.

TRADITIONAL EVENTS CONNECTED WITH ZILINA

CARNIVAL OF SLOVAKIA ŽILINA (February) - An annual Lent celebration

OLD TOWN FESTIVAL FESTIVAL (May) - focuses on the presentation of folk crafts and  open-air concerts of all genres

ZILINA MIDSUMMER NIGHT (June) - an international street theater festival

ZILINA CULTURAL SUMMER (July, August) - a two-month marathon of cultural events - concerts, theater, film screenings, workshops, a carving symposium, exhibitions and international festivals

EUROPEAN CULTURE DAYS (August) - a festival presenting Žilina’s sister cities, their culture and traditional crafts

ZILINA LITERARY FESTIVAL (October) - festival of literature, music, theater and film

MIKULÁŠ IN THE CITY CHRISTMAS MARKETS

CITY PARTNERS ŽILINA

HISTORY OF PILSEN – ŽILINA RELATIONS

In September 2010, a partnership agreement was signed for an indefinite period.

There have been numerous  mutual events such as performances by musical ensembles and bands, theater performances (both classical and puppet), presentations of traditional crafts, workshops, meetings of representatives of both municipalities for the purpose of sharing experiences, organizing cooperation between schools and other institutions, etc.

Traditional annual events include The Days of European culture in Žilina (an international summer festival presenting the culture and art of the sister cities of Zilina) and Czech-Slovak day in Pilsen (a presentation of culture and traditional crafts).

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Birmingham, USA

Birmingham, USA

Birmingham is located in the north-central part of the state of Alabama in the USA. It is the largest city in Alabama.

CITY LEADERSHIP / MANAGEMENT

Mayor: Randall Woodfin

City Council: 9 members

HISTORY

Birmingham was founded as an industrial center shortly after the American Civil War in 1871. It was named after the British city of Birmingham, which used to be one of the major industrial cities of the United Kingdom.

From 1880 to 1940, as heavy industry continued to develop, the city grew as an industrial metropolis.  At the height of the nation's manufacturing age, the city’s population grew so fast that it was called the "Magic City." This period of prosperity came to a halt during the Great Depression of the 1930s, and the economy remained slow for the next 40 years. Hard times returned during the 1960s, when racial injustice culminated in demonstrations for human rights. Birmingham’s racial issues have always been the center of worldwide attention.

During the 1970s Birmingham transformed itself into a center of medical research and banking with a service-based economy and the growing support of The University of Alabama at Birmingham and a strong banking and business-financial sector. Today Birmingham is among the most important business centers in the southeastern United States and is also one of the largest banking centers in the country.

GEOGRAPHY AND DEMOGRAPHY

LOCATION: The city of Birmingham is located in the north-central part of the state of Alabama, USA. It is nestled in the Jones Valley in the southern foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.

SIZE: 393.5 km2

POPULATION: 242,820

CLIMATE: Birmingham has a humid subtropical climate with typical hot summers, mild winters and lots of precipitation. The average annual temperature in the city is 17 °C.

ECONOMY

Birmingham used to be the center of the steel industry for the southern part of the USA. Although some former factories originally built for the production of iron and steel are presently used as museums, steel is still produced here in large quantities. Other production is focused on chemicals, building materials, aircraft parts, railway line components, computers and the cotton industry.

Today Birmingham’s foundations of the economy are the automotive and aerospace industry, biotechnology, research, development of services and production of iron and steel. Also several leading regional financial institutions, banks and insurance companies are based in Birmingham.
Major employers of the region are in: education, health, industry, finance and banking, professional and business services, trade and transport.

EDUCATION (IMPORTANT EDUCATIONAL CENTERS)

In Birmingham there is a great emphasis on education. The city is home to a number of schools, which are among the best in the USA.

Some of the most important institutions of higher education are:

CULTURE AND TOURISM

The city of Birmingham is the cultural and entertainment center of the state of Alabama. There are many museums and galleries in the city. The largest is the Birmingham Museum of Art. There is also an excellent symphony orchestra and a first-class ballet company. Musical performers and theater groups come to Birmingham from all over the world.

Cultural institutions include:

Alabama Theatre

Alys Stephens Center for the Performing Arts (Alabama Symphony Orchestra and Opera Birmingham)

Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex (theater, concert hall, exhibition halls and sports and concert arena)

Carver Theatre (headquarters Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame)

Birmingham Public Library (programs for children and adults)

Verizon Wireless Music Center (outdoor cultural center with 2 stages)

Birmingham Museum of Art (Birmingham Museum of Art)

Zoo and Botanical Gardens - Birmingham Zoo and Botanical Gardens

SPORT

Sports activities are concentrated mainly in colleges and universities.

Football (The University of Alabama and Auburn University) and basketball (The University of Alabama) are especially popular. Baseball and soccer are also of great importance.

Motor sports and fishing are also very important.

The annual marathon Vulcan 10K Run and Mercedes Marathon/Half Marathon have become very popular. Participants come not only from Birmingham, but from all over the USA.

Cycling and mountain-biking are also popular in the area.

Major league clubs of Birmingham:

ATTRACTIONS

Kelly Ingram Park was a site of famous protests for human rights. It is also the home of The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, which presents the history of Birmingham in connection with the American Civil War in a very moving exhibition.

Oak Mountain State Park is located 16 km to the South of Birmingham. It offers beautiful views.

Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park, a Civil War site, is located in the West of the city and is a reminder of the previous steel industry boom. There is an Iron & Steel Museum with preserved remnants of the original steel mills and blast furnaces.

Vulcan Park is located in the South of the city. There, one can see the largest cast iron statue in the world, known as Vulcan.

McWane Science Center is a regional science museum, which presents science and research in an interactive way. There is also IMAX 3-D theater. The center also presents a number of fossils.

Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum features the largest collection of motorcycles in the world.

TRADITIONAL EVENTS

Birmingham hosts a variety of music, film and other festivals, which represent the local cultural heritage.

City Stages is a world-renowned three-day music festival, which takes place in Birmingham's Linn Park on Father's Day and music of all genres is performed on 11 stages.

Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival is a large film festival attended by filmmakers from around the world, who come here to present their films and to award the best of them. It usually takes place in late September.

Taste of 4th Avenue Jazz Festival is another musical festival held annually in September.

Southern Heritage Festival has been held since 1960. It is a festival of music, art and entertainment for the African-American community.

Schaeffer Eye Center Crawfish Boil is an annual 2-day music festival held in May to support local charities. Every year around 30,000 visitors come to this festival.

Greek Festival is an annual festival which celebrates Greek heritage and is also devoted to Greek cuisine.

Alabama Bound is an annual book fair and writer’s festival representing authors and publishers from Alabama. It is organized by the Birmingham Public Library. It offers fans an opportunity   to meet their favorite authors, discuss books by those authors and participate in a numerous readings.

CITY PARTNERS OF BIRMINGHAM

HISTORY OF RELATIONS BETWEEN PILSEN AND BIRMINGHAM

In 2004, Birmingham was recommended to Pilsen in the Czech Republic as a potential partner by the U.S. Embassy in the Czech Republic.

The partnership agreement was signed between the cities in May 2005 on the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Pilsen by the U.S. Army.

A Rotarian delegation from Birmingham met with the Rotarians of Pilsen. Representatives from UWB (The University of Western Bohemia) visited Birmingham. Seminars, meetings with students, graphic techniques workshops, presentations on Pilsen, Western Bohemia, The Institute of Art and its summer school ArtCamp, as well as negotiations on potential exchanges and a presentation of the project Figurama, were all part of the visit.

The festival "Spotlight Czech Republic" in Birmingham featured a documentary film by Jiří Boudník, a Pilsen native now living in New York city, called "Sugar Cubes and Chocolate, about the liberation of Pilsen .There was a theatre performance of "The Three Musketeers" by The Alfa Theatre, and The Exhibition of the Pilsen Biennial in Drawing was opened.

May 2007 - during the liberation celebrations, there was an exhibition of work by students and teachers from BSC (Birmingham Southern College) in the University Gallery in Pilsen. The exhibition was visited by Pilsen Mayor Rödl, accompanied by Mr. Richard Graber, the U.S. Ambassador to the Czech Republic.

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