Tag Archive: Kutna Hora


Kutna Hora!

Kutna Hora: view of St. Barbara’s Cathedral!

We are briefly back in Prague before leaving on our next set of adventures!  This post is especially for future guests arriving soon. Kutná Hora is a lovely day trip from Prague.

If you saw my post on the Bone Church in Kutná Hora, you may be intrigued enough to see it for yourself.  However, even if you think the Bone Church isn’t “your cup of tea” you should still go see Kutná Hora.  The historical town center and St. Barbara’s Cathedral is a UNESCO world heritage site.

Kutná Hora has not one, but several stunning cathedrals, which more than make up for the gruesome Bone Church!

Cathedral of Assumption of Our Lady and John the Baptist.

Cathedral of Assumption of Our Lady and John the Baptist.

The town began in 1142 with the settlement of  Sedlec Monastery, the first Cistercian monastery in Bohemia.

German miners began to mine for silver in the mountain region in 1260, which the miners named Kuttenberg. The mountain was part of the monastery property.

These are the relics of St. Felix, donated by Pope Benedict X!V in 1742 on the occasion of the monastery's 600th anniversary!

These are the relics of St. Felix, donated by Pope Benedict X!V in 1742 on the occasion of the monastery’s 600th anniversary!

Kutná Hora’s wealth was built on mining. There’s a legend that goes like this: when a lazy monk named Anton woke up from a nap in the monastery orchard, he found three pieces of silver sticking out from the ground near his face. Anton laid down his robe (‘Kutna’, in Czech) to mark the place. Anton’s fellow monks investigated further and discovered what was to become the silver mines. Kutná Hora would later become the richest silver mine in the Kingdom of Bohemia.

It was wonderful to wander the streets and see the fine architecture.

It was wonderful to wander the streets and see the fine architecture.

The prosperity of Kutná Hora silver mines reached its climax in the 14th and 15th centuries when the city became one of the richest places in Europe. It was one of the most important political and economic centers of Bohemia at that time, second only to Prague.

I have a weakness for taking photos of cute window boxes:)

My husband will confirm that I have a weakness for taking photos of cute window boxes:)

Unfortunately, we arrived too late in the day to take a tour of the silver mines.  I’ve heard that the tour is very interesting, so we will definitely go back!

It was fun to wander the streets!

St. James’ Church

St. James’ Church is one of Kutná Hora’s famous landmarks. Construction of St. James began in 1330, and was completed in 1420.

This is the Church of St. James, built in the 14th century.

Inside the Church of St. James, built in the 14th century.

Pope Martin VI declared a crusade against the Hussites in 1419, shortly before construction of St. James was completed. The Hussites were followers of Jan Hus, a Czech priest who was considered the first Church reformer because he lived before Luther and Calvin.

St. James was the principal parish church of medieval Kutna Hora.

St. James was the principal parish church of medieval Kutna Hora.

In 1420 Emperor Sigismund used Kutna Hora as the base for his unsuccessful attack on the Taborites (considered heretics by the Catholic Church) during the Hussite Wars…leading to the Battle of Kutna Hora. In that battle, the Taborites were encircled by the superior forces of Sigusmund; however, under the leadership of famous Czech general Jan Zizka they were able to break through the lines and escape.

St. Barbara's Cathedral in the background.

Thanks, Elsa, for these photographs!

According to Wikipedia, Jan Zizka is considered to be among the greatest military leaders and innovators of all time. He is one of six commanders in history who never lost a battle . There is an enormous statue of him in Prague, which can be seen from miles away. The surrounding area is called Zizkov!

All these photos came from Elsa's camera, since we forgot to recharge our camera before coming to KH.

On the way to St. Barbara’s Cathedral.

St. Barbara’s Cathedral was founded in the late 1300s by the rich mine owners of Kutná Hora. They were trying to compete with the grandeur of Prague’s St. Vitus Cathedral. Building plans were interrupted by the Hussite battles, so construction didn’t resume until 1482.

The stained glass windows are stunning!

The stained glass windows are stunning!

Kutna Hora passed to the Habsburg Monarchy of Austria in 1526. Things went downhill after that…the mines were flooded, insurrection against the Holy Roman Emperor brought harsh punishment, followed by plague and the Thirty Years War.  The city  was devastated by fire  in 1770. The mines were abandoned not long after.

The view from the balcony.

The view from the balcony.

Kutna Hora remained part of the Austrian Empire under the Hapsburgs during the 1800’s. It became part of Czechoslovakia after World War I, following the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

The fun angels:)

The fun angels on top of the organ!

For more information about Kutna Hora, including how to get there from Prague, look here:

http://www.outsideprague.com/kutna_hora/kutna_hora_daytrip.html

http://www.myczechrepublic.com/kutna-hora/getting-there.html

So, if you are in Prague for more than a few days, definitely make a trip to Kutna Hora…you won’t regret it!

What? Bones in a church??

What? Bones in a church??

Last September we visited the “Bone Church” in Kutna Hora with my friend, Elsa.  It was such a strange, creepy place!

Ahhh, another quaint European church...not!!

Ahhh, another quaint European church…not!!

Looks can be deceiving. It looks picturesque and peaceful from the outside.  But on the inside it is no ordinary church.

The graveyard on the church grounds.

The graveyard on the church grounds.

It looks as if the Adams Family decorated the church! All of the decorations inside the church are made from human bones. Seriously??  Seriously!!

The next logical question is: Where did the bones come from?

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The chandelier contains every bone in the human body!

The bones come from the victims of plague in the 14th century, and from victims of the Hussite wars in the 15th century. Thousands were killed in these events; apparently they were buried in mass graves on the church property.

This is the coat of arms of the Swarzenburger family.

This is the coat of arms of the Schwarzenburg family, who used to own the church.

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Close up of the coat of arms above: worthy of Pirates of the Caribbean!

Why so many bones in one place, you ask??

The legend goes that the abbot of Sedlec monastery, known as Jindrich, brought back a handful of soil from his travels to Palestine, and sprinkled it on the cemetery. This made it a popular burial site for the nobility of Central Europe.

Creepy!

Creepy!

The number of burials outgrew the available space during the Thirty Years’ War in the 17th century. So they began to dig up the older remains and stored the bones in the chapel.

The decorations came from the bones of 40,000 people.

It is estimated that the chapel contains the bones of 40,000 people!

There’s an urban legend  that a monk went crazy and made things from the bones. Another legend is that the bones were first piled in geometric shapes by partially blind monks who were taking care of the chapel. Sounds like an answer my nephew Aaron would make up while playing the game Balderdash (a game where you make up crazy answers to questions and try to get the other players to believe you)!!

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The Schwarzenberg family bought the monastery in 1870, and they commissioned a local carver, František Rint,  to  get creative with the bones…as “a reminder of the importance of human life and inescapable death.”

Am I really posing next to a chandelier of human bones? Odd!!

Smile for the camera while we pose next to a chalice made of bones surrounded by skulls: STRANGE!!

You can find out how to get to Kutna Hora from Prague here:

http://www.frommers.com/destinations/prague/0063020751.html

A big thank you to my friend Elsa, for these photos. My camera battery had died on the way.

After you leave the church, shake off the creepy feeling, and walk on to the picturesque town of Kutna Hora, a UNESCO World Heritage site. I’ll write another post to show the “lovely side” of Kutna Hora!

While doing research for this post, I found this awesome quote by Greg, writer of  Outside Prague, a great website about the lesser known towns and cities of the Czech Republic.

http://www.outsideprague.com/kutna_hora/kutna_hora_daytrip.html

Greg writes:

“Visitors to the bone church often describe it as macabre, eerie or creepy and I once asked the lady at the desk if she ever felt bothered to be working there. She flipped her hand in a dismissive way and said “Pfft! They’re only bones, they won’t hurt you; it’s the living who scare me”.

Good point.”