Maybe you’ve had enough of Prague and want to see something else, or perhaps you were planning to see more of the Czech Republic from the beginning. Whatever your reason may be, hopefully this article will give you some options about what to do outside of the capital. In this part, we’ll take a look at Kutná Hora
Kutná Hora – The Diggable Mountain
The translation of the Czech city of Kutná Hora is a bit of a pickle in itself – Kutat means „to dig“ in Czech, and Kutná is an adjective from the word, therefore it means „Diggable“ or „one that can be digged“. Hora means „mountain“, so the proper and full translation would be „A mountain that can be digged“. And digged it was – in fact, Kutná Hora used to be a major supplier of silver – in the 13th century, a third of Europe’s silver production was from Kutná Hora. The city itself dates back to the 10th century, and after the Discovery of silver in the local mines, started developing rapidly, and gained a title of a Court city in 1318, as well as special privileges other towns and cities didn’t have.
Nowadays, the golden era of Kutná Hora is gone, but what remains is a rich cultural heritage, as Kutná Hora is on the list of protected cities by UNESCO. Many important historical buildings and sites remain preserved to this day, and are frequently visited by locals and foreigners alike.
Now – the good news is – since Kutná Hora’s glory days peaked in the middle ages, and thusly before the industrial revolution, the town is fairly small – in fact, it only has a population of roughly 20.000 people. And since most of the train connections to Kutná Hora take under an hour, and bus/car transportation is roughly 90 minutes, it’s an ideal place for as day trip from Prague without the hassle of getting up really early and spending unreasonable amount of time on the road.
So what should you visit?
Probably the most famous, as well as most interesting sight in the city is the Sedlec Ossuary, sometimes reffered to as „the bone church“ – a small Roman Catholic chapel, located beneath the Cemetery Church of All Saints. It’s well known for the display of tens of thousands of human bones, neatly stacked by the walls, as well as formed to different shapes and purposes – for example a huge chandelier formed mostly from human bones.
The ossuary dates back to the 13th century, and although nobody now knows just how many people’s remains are resting there, only the plague is said to have added 30.000 bodies to the count.
The St Barbara’s Cathedral is another notable sight – not only a beautiful architectonic monument, but also a symbol of defiance, as the complicated history of the Cathedral started, when the leaders and enterpreneurs of Kutná Hora united against the king’s council, and built the Cathedral to challenge not only the local church in Sedlec, but also to rival the Cathedral of Prague. The construction began in 1388, and the Cathedral suffered a lot during the Hussite wars. After the Battle of White Mountain, and subsequent re-catholization of the Czech lands, the Cathedral was rid of some of the original protestant decoration. Some of it was however rebuilt between 1884 and 1905, when local archeological society Vocel raised funds for a „puristic reconstruction“, not only restoring the building in its original Gothic style, but also lenghtening the western face of the building.
The Cathedral is part of the historical city centre, and with its pleasant park and beautiful scenery is one of the places you absolutely must visit, when going to Kutná Hora.
The historical centre of Kutná Hora in itself is a very interesting place to see, being on the UNESCO protected areas list. It has a beautiful atmosphere, and although not big by any means, offers some nice restaurants and cafées you can pop in for a lunch or snack.
If you are interested in the history of Kutná Hora, make sure to visit the Museum of Silver in the town, where you find out just how much was the town’s prosperity (and eventual downfall) tied to the mining industry in the middle ages.
If you have any time left, you can visit the Hrádek fort (the name, Hrádek, means „a small castle“), the beautiful empire style Kačina Chateau, or one of the few museums Kutná Hora offers, such as Museum of Chocolate, Museum of Tobacco, or the Museum of Letterpress print.
A quick getaway
The train connection to the Kutná Hora is very convenient, as the trains from the Main Railway Station in Prague leave several times a day with tickets often starting at about 5€ per one way, and the fastest trains take you there in under an hour.
We can wholeheartidly recommend you visiting this old and interesting town, if you’re looking for an escape from the crowded streets of Prague.
So happy travels!