Day Trip to Kutna Hora
Both Marcus and I managed to catch colds during our second week here in Prague that knocked us each out for a couple of days each. Fortunately, they were different days and fortunately we are both well on our way to being on the mend now. We managed to muddle our way through making a (fabulous) Canadian Thanksgiving dinner on Sunday though. Complete with gluten free stuffing and yes, even cranberry sauce (thank you Tesco). We always miss our family (a lot) on holidays, and were thinking of everyone back in Canada as we had our dinner.
Yesterday, we made a trip to the east of Prague to the town of Kutna Hora. Kutna Hora’s history revolves greatly around silver. At one point, 1/3 of the silver in Europe came from this location. We took a packaged tour from Prague, and made our way there via an “old school” train where we road in compartments. Kutna Hora was amazing, but we also really enjoyed meeting other travelers on the tour. We shared our compartment on the way to Kutna Hora with a lovely couple from Conneticuit who had lived in Winnipeg for 29 years. On the ride back, we rode with a couple of travelling cousins, one of whom was living in Buffalo. Artie had taken an extreme liking to the lady from Buffalo, and at one point attempted to convince her that she should adopt him. We are grateful for how kind everyone on the trip was to our kids.
Our first stop in the town was at the Church of the Assumption. This church was originally part of a monastery. The church remains, but the monastery buildings are now owned by Phillip Morris and are a tobacco factory. As with so many buildings in the Czech Republic, the outside of the building was adorned in beautiful statues.
The inside of the church was surprisingly simple, with a few exceptions. This beautiful fresco on the ceiling and the the organ at the far end. Artie was bound and determined to go play the organ… fortunately he was thwarted in his attempts to do so.
A short walk away is the Sedlec Ossuary, or the “Bone Church”. Ossuary was a new word for me. It describes a place that is the final resting place for human remains. Apparently at one point, a small bag of earth from the holy land was brought here and made the ground sacred. So, everyone wanted to be buried here. There was however, not enough room for all of the remains (including the remains of thousands and thousands who were in a mass grave from the plague). So, the remains were all dug up and put into pyramids within the chapel.
It is a bit jarring when you first enter the sight, seeing bones used as decoration. Artie loved it, Morgan was not so sure…
There is a lot of symbolism built into the building. The bones and the display of the remains became a bit less morbid and perhaps almost beautiful when I learned more about the symbolism. In death, we all become the same, our bones are all the same and we cannot tell one from another. You can’t tell if these sculls and bones were rich or poor, male or female or from any race or religion. They are all the same.
There is a wooden crown at the top of each of the pyramids of bones within the chapel. The crown is there to symbolize that all are worthy of the kingdom of heaven. All in all, between the pyramids and the decorations, there are the remains of roughly 65,000 people within the ossuary.
Our next stop on the tour was the Church of St. Barbara’s. The flying buttresses that I remember learning about in high school history stood out for me when I first saw the church.
My pictures of the interior do not do the church justice. The majority of the windows are stained glass, and are absolutely stunning. My photos though only capture the light coming through them. They do not reflect the beauty that we saw while we were standing there.
Many of the Gothic churches in the city were “Baroquized” during the time of the Jesuits . This statue within the church is of a miner and is an example of the Baroque art (in particular the “movement” that is captured in the statue). Given how blurry this photo came out, I’m wondering if it was moving while I took the picture…
Outside the church, Artie witnessed a few leaf tornadoes which absolutely fascinated him. He spent several minutes trying to “conjure” more tornadoes so that he could stand in the middle of them. Some pleasures in life require hundreds of hours to create. Some only require a gust of wind.
The town of Kutna Hora itself is as (if not more) beautiful as the churches that it is famous for. This view is of a vineyard that is visible from just outside of St. Barbara’s church.
There is a walkway nearby St. Barbara’s that was built to look similar to Charles Bridge in Prague. Our guide told us that the wording contains a code. When all of the gold letters are added together, they create the date that the statue was created. As we walked by them, our guide gave us time to figure them all out. We were all a bit tired by this point, and Artie who has a habit of expressing whatever is there for him shouted out “We don’t want a math lesson right now”…
This is another view of the city from the walkway. The building that you can see with the two white peaks on it was the “Italian Court”. For many years, this building housed the mint and stored much of the silver that came from the surrounding area.
We had a fabulous meal while we were in Kutna Hora, but I enjoyed the walk to the restaurant as much as the food. The city is full of cobblestone streets, much like Prague. Some of the areas contain ornate designs within the stone work as well.
This is a picture of a fountain within the Italian Court. The blocked-off entrances around the perimeter used to be entrances to individual minting workshops.
It is always a bit of a risk when we take a packaged tour. We’ve done some that were horrible… and they can be a lot of walking which doesn’t always agree with our kids. We are really glad that we took the risk with this one. We wanted to see more of the Czech countryside while we were in Prague, and we did. We definitely saw sights that were new and learned so much more about the history of Bohemia through doing this tour and we are grateful for the experience.
About the Author
Professionally, I am an e-learning instructional designer who breaks down the barriers of space and time in learning. Personally, I'm the Mom in the Little-Green Family, and co-planner in our adventures.