The Unusual Czech-List: Kutná Hora
About 70km east from the capital city of Prague lies an unusual little town. This said town has gained much popularity in recent years due to its famous “Bone Church”, built by crazy monks. Now I know I’ve got your attention.
Welcome to Kutná Hora.
The name Kutná Hora is comes from the Czech word “kutna” meaning a cowl or a robe. The story goes that a monk named Anton fell asleep in the monastery orchard and when he woke up he saw there were three pieces of silver sticking up from the ground. Obviously he wanted to remember this random event so, to mark the place, he laid his robe down over them. Well, it turns out that those three pieces were the tip of the iceberg of what the town had to offer. Kutná Hora became the richest silver mine in Central Bohemia. So you see, it wasn’t the wacky legends that first put Kutná Hora on the map, it was in fact its silver.
Sedlac Ossuary is what is more commonly referred to as the Bone Church. It is said to contain the bones of somewhere between 40,000 – 70,000 people. But saying that, it’s tastefully done! It’s not a pile up or an overflowing pit, the skeletons actually decorate the chapel. Chandeliers, fully stocked shelves, garlands, wallhangings, as “mad” as they were, those monks thought of everything!
It costs 60 CZK (€2, $2.50) for entry into the church. I managed to (innocently!) get in for free because I happened to be behind a huge tour group and so they thought I was with them… Oops!
In 1278 the abbot of the monastery returned to Czech with some earth from Jerusalem. He scattered this holy dust in the cemetery surrounding the church and suddenly everybody wanted to be buried there. Add to that the after-effects of the Black Plague and they just simply ran out of space for everybody. Thinking outside of the box, I’ll give them that!
So I am sorry to tell you that it’s an urban myth that a monk lost his mind and fancied a re-vamp.
St. Barbara’s Cathedral:
This cathedral is known as the most spectacular in all of the Czech Republic – and when you see it, you’ll see why. Magnificent spires greet you before anything else, the detail tapering up them, the gothic buttresses supporting it all, and the beautiful stained glass windows telling us the stories of Kutná Hora, all sitting atop a cliff for dramatic effect.
St. Barbara is the patron saint of the miners so the glass really does depict trading and mining life.
Every two hours there’s a train to Kutná Hora from Prague’s main station, Hlavní Nádraží. The train takes 50-60 minutes and costs ~200 CZK (€7, $8) for a return ticket. Once you arrive at the Kutná Hora stop it’s about a 25 minute walk to the Bone Church.
Don’t worry if you have noBODY to go with… There’s plenty waiting for you, mua ha ha. Ahem. Thanks for reading!