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  The Czech Republic 2008 - Kutna Hora


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The now small town of Kutna Hora was once second only in importance to Prague and made its wealth on silver mining and minting coins from the thirteenth to the sixteenth century during which time the impressive cathedral of St Barbara was built. Although we aren't greatly keen on churches the interior of this cathedral is amazing and the exterior roof with its three tent-like spires is so distinctive. We paid the modest entrance fee and were given a guide sheet in English. We found the beautiful large stained glass windows to be the most inspiring feature together with ancient frescos depicting strange scenes, and statues and wall paintings of the silver miners.  

St Barbara cathedral
St Barbara cathedral

St Barbara cathedral front
St Barbara cathedral front

Miners statue                fresco detail                stained glass window
                                                        miners statue, fresco detail and stained glass window

The rest of the town centre was a mix of attractively restored buildings tucked away among many scruffy streets as is usual in the new European countries. The terrace leading up to the cathedral alongside the massive former Jesuit college was reminiscent of Prague's Charles bridge with ornate statues and there was an under-whelming "stone fountain" with just four small trickling water spouts. There is a large ornate "Plague Column" celebrating the end of the Great Plague in 1713. Down another unpromising lane we found a delightfully decorated building and doorway (with the unassuming description of House No.521, Rochacova St.) and the tourist office have done an excellent job in signposting the town's attractions.  decorated house
Plague column
Kutna Hora  Plague column
decorated door
House No. 521, Rohacova St.

    stone fountain
Kutna Hora stone fountain

terrace and statues
Kutna Hora terrace and statues
       The other must see sight in Kutna Hora is the Ossuary in the suburb of Sedlec to the east of the town centre. It is located down a side road (signposted) opposite the Cistercian monastery which is now part of a huge Philip Morris tobacco factory! The crypt under the Baroque style cemetery chapel contains an estimated 40,000 human skeletons as it was believed that some earth from the crucifixion site in Jerusalem was taken there and it was the desirable last resting place for many important and religious people. In the nineteenth century it was so full that a woodcarver, Frantisek Rint, was asked to create a decorative solution and the result is an amazing display of artifacts including a coat of arms, a chalice, altars and a huge chandelier made using all the bones from a human skeleton. For a modest entrance fee we were given a guide sheet in English but it was just too bewildering to take in. We only stayed in there about fifteen minutes - it was quite dark and musty and a couple of visitors wouldn't even go inside.  

Sedlec Ossuary chandelier made from bones

chandelier detail

chalice made from bones

coat of arms made from bones

Outside the ossuary we chatted with a motorcyclist (the first English person we had met in over two weeks). He was touring solo around Eastern Europe and Russia then heading to the Nord Cap, which made our mini adventure a bit feeble. We wished him well on his travels and then we headed to South Bohemia. 

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