Saturday, 11 September 2010

Kutna Hora

This post is dedicated to my grandfather Jozef Šimánek who I had no chance to meet. He died a long before I was born.

During our stay in Prague we took a one day trip to the ancient silver mining town of Kutna Hora. In less than an hour, we escaped the crowds of Prague and enjoyed the beauty of this small Czech town with a great past.
Here are some facts I found in  Tourist Information.

Kutna Hora is known by the mining of silver. In 1142 the first Cistercian monastery in the Czech lands was established in the nearby village of Sedlec and at the end of the 13th century the original mining settlement of Old Kutna soon became a wealthy royal city. In 1300 King Vaclav II issued the mining legislation and in the same year he initiated a coinage reform. One century later another king, Vaclav IV, issued the Kutna Hora Decree, which amended the proportion of votes at Prague University in favor of the Czechs. Kutna Hora is therefore rightly considered to be the treasure-house of the land whose wealth gave strength to the expansion of the Kingdom of Bohemia. Its history and uniqueness were recognized in 1995 the city was inscribed in the UNESCO World Cultural and Heritage List.

During these couple of hours of our stay in this amazing city we didn't have much time to see everything that was offered to us. So we decided to visit some of the most important sights.

St. Barbara's Cathedral

In the late 1300s St. Barbara’s was founded by the rich mine owners of Kutna Hora in an attempt to further their religious independence from the Cistercian monastery at Sedlec and compete with the grandeur of Prague’s St. Vitus cathedral. The Hussite rebellion soon interrupted their plans,  and construction work on the cathedral didn’t resume until 1482, when the mining industry recovered.
New techniques altered the plans for the construction, and the unique shape of the spires is a product of this late 15th to early 16th century burst of construction. Financial difficulties and the eventual demise of the mining industry brought another halt to the work and when  the city and local archeological society found the impetus and means to continue the construction, in 1884 the works begun and eventually completed in 1905. St. Barbara is the patron saint of miners.
St. Jacob's church

You can't miss the Church of Saint Jacob in Kutna Hora. It was built on a higher place and its dominance is even magnified by its 85 meters high tower. Originally it had to have two towers, but this idea was abandoned because of unsuitable terrain.  The building was constructed on the costs of local mining entrepreneurs and it was finished in 1420, just to be burned down by Hussites and wait 40 years for reconstruction. Every hour a guard from Jacobian tower cried out: „Dear God, please protect Kutna Hora“. It's now under renovation so we couldn't enter inside.

The Ossuary in Sedlec

Kutna Hora is also known for the curious "Bone Church" or Ossuary. It is located in the nearby suburb of Sedlec. The church contains the bones of over 40,000 people which are used to create a works of art  such as arrangements of bells, pyramids, candle holders, crests and a chandelier. According to legend, this was the work of blind Cistercian monk. It's a two floor church built in 1400, destroyed in the mid of 17th century  and reconstructed at the beginning of the 18th century.
The lower part is known as Jesus Christ on the Mount of Olives and upper part is known as All Saints Chapel. The bone chapel, cathedral, and mine tour are the highlights of Kutna Hora, but there’re other impressive churches, lovely back streets, fountains........

A day is definitely not enough  for such a small but wealthy town. Next time I will come here better prepared to stay  for few days. I owe it to Kutna Hora and to myself.

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