Kutna Hora, Prague
Kutna Hora, meaning mining mountain lies just east of Prague. The ossuary in the town contains around 50,000 bones of all shapes and sizes. Besides being piled up, they are also used as decorative coat of arms, chandeliers amongst other things. The town is also home to some beautiful streets and St. Barbara's Church, an impressive church high up on a hill.
Take a trip about an hour out of the city to Sedlec, a small town adjacent to the historic and picturesque Kutna Hora. Sedlec has an ossuary (bone church) decorated with thousands of human bones. It's really something to see.
The history: In the 13th century, the abbot of the monastery in Sedlec was sent by the Czech king on a mission to Jerusalem, and he returned with a handful of earth from Golgotha, which he sprinkled on his monastery's graveyard. This made the cemetery a popular burial site for nobility all over Central Europe. As a result, a huge number of bones accumulated, and in 1870 a woodcarver named Frantisek Rint was commissioned to do something with them. The most notable are the bells in each corner and the chandelier that includes every bone in the human body. The artist also signed his name in bones along the right wall at the bottom of the steps. The ossuary contains the bones of about 40,000 people.
Kutná Hora is a gorgeous little town that was once the second-most important place in the CR. Most visitors come here to appreciate the history and architecture, which is truly unique. Kutna Hora is listed as a world heritage site by UNESCO. Be sure to visit the old silver mint, and just walk around the town, maybe stopping into one of the excellent cukarnas for some sweets and hot cocoa.
The early history of Kutna Hora revolves around the silver mines that made the city one of the richest and most important in medieval Bohemia during the 14th and 15th centuries. The first evidence of mining in the area goes back to the 10th century, but it was the discovery of major silver deposits in the 13th century that changed the future of the little village 70 km from Prague.
The silver mines in the area became so rich that, at the very beginning of the 14th century, Czech King Vaclav II bestowed upon Kutna Hora the privileges of a royal town and instituted a currency reform, closing all other mints in the country. With the aid of Italian craftsmen, he founded a royal mint in Kutna Hora that produced the Prague groschen, a coin that used throughout central Europe into the 19th century. He also began construction on a palace here, though it was later used as a royal mint. Its name, Italian Court, reflects the influence of the minters from Florence. (You can tour this place: it's Vlassky Dvur=Italian Court.)
The town's mines also attracted a great number of German-speaking immigrants, who brought advanced mining methods and became the town's largest ethnic group.
In the 13th and 14th centuries, Kutna Hora became the financial center for the Czech kingdom and its second most important city after Prague. At the end of the 14th century, it had a population equal to London's. Much of the town's wealth went towards the development of Prague, but some also went to the construction of a number of impressive buildings in Kutna Hora itself. The oldest is the church of St. James (Sv. Jakub), though it pales artisitically in comparison to the Cathedral of St. Barbara, one of the grandest cathedrals in Central Europe. The church dedicated to St. Barbara, patron of miners, was probably begun in 1380 and the chapel and choir were completed in 1420. The town also features a number of other churches, a former Jesuit College, an Ursuline Convent and a Cistercian monastery. (Note: all of these are quite beautiful.)
Another landmark, and a very popular and somewhat more unusual one, is the Kostnice (ossuary) in Sedlec, a suburb of Kutna Hora. See my separate entry on this, above.
Unfortunately for the town, the silver mines began to run out in the 16th century, and the last groschen was minted there in 1549. By the 17th century the production of silver in the town had reached such lows that pillaging Swedes were bought off with beer, not silver. The fortunes of the town continued to decline, until in 1727 the mint was finally closed completely.
A half-hour drive east of Prague is the splendidly Gothic Kutná Hora, the medieval silver-mining town where the film version of Les Misérables was shot. The distinctive spires of its Cathedral of St.Barbara - whose roof seems to be draped from them - dominate the old centre of town, from where you can still don a hood and descend into the mineshafts. Be sure not to miss the macabre baroque-era ossuary, where monks arranged the bones of plague victims into fantastic decorative sculptures and chandeliers. Admission 110Kc. Open 9am-5pm Oct, Apr; 9am-6pm Sept, May-June; 10am-6pm, July-Aug; closed Mon. Ossuary, Zámecká 127, Kutná Hora (00 420 327 561 143). Admission 30Kc. Open 9am-noon, 1pm-5pm Oct-Apr; 8am-6pm May-Sept.
KUTNÁ HORA - not far from Prague is a town with a long history of mining industry and one beautiful Church of Sv. Barbora.
Other very nice pictures from this region you can see on http://www.kutnahora.cz ! Also in English language.
The ossuary in Kutna Hora. This is very strange, but if your even a little bit intrigued by the macabe it is an absolute must see! This otherwise normal church and cemetary was overrun with plague victim corpses, and in the late 19th century a local artisan was comissened to create sculpture out of the human bones that were crowding the cemetary. The result is bizzare and very beatutiful. Once there (Kutna Hora) check out the old mines, and the cathedral. Plan on spending a day but not much more.
Take a day trip to Kutna Hora. Here you can see an amazing bone church. Inside the bones of 40,000 people are kept, some of which have been used to make chandeliers, and crucifixes and other decorations around the church. Very eerie.
Kutna Hoa is a nice little village a hour or so drive out of Prague. Here is where you can see the Bone Church. This church is decorated with the remains of thousands of human bones.
See my Kutna Hora travelogue for more pictures.
Take a train(20 mins.) to the town of Kutna Hora; see the cathedral & visit the mine.
Down Rt E55 three quarters of the way to Linz is the cute little town of Cesky Krumlov, nice shops can get some good buys on amber.
At Sedlec on the outskirts of Kutna Hora is an ossuary where the bones and skulls of around 30,000 people were laid to rest and have since been arranged in artistic designs coverin the walls of the small church. There is a pretty cemetery too.
A lovely peaceful little town a short train ride away from Prague (about 70km). It makes a great day trip out of the busy hot capital during the summer.
Kutna Hora (1,5h from Prague by bus), in XIV,XV centuries it was great and rich city thanks to silver which was extracted here.
When in Prague, please take a day to visit the Ossuary of Sedlec. Many many photos of this ossuary on my Sedlec Page!!
One visit to Kutna Hora to see The Cathedral of St. Barbara is a must! More photos taken by me on my Kutna Hora Page!!