Kutná Hora: City of UNESCO Sites
Kutná Hora and the nearby village Sedlec are hiding numerous treasures such as impressive cathedrals, creepy ossuary, the best chocolate in the world, and many others. You will be surprised how many hidden gems can be found in such a small city.
Story of Kutná Hora
Kutná Hora used to be a center of silver production in Central Europe. Apparently, this silver boom supported the rise of the Czech Kingdom in the 13th century, and Kutná Hora rivaled Prague in its importance. However, the mines began to run dry by the 16th century, and the city development started to slow down. Fortunately, we preserved all the city’s essential treasures, and the center is included in the UNESCO world heritage list today.
Cathedral of St Barbara
The main dominant of the city and the proud member of UNESCO is the Cathedral of St Barbara that took more than five hundred years to complete. Construction was initially designed in the gothic style in 1380 and completed in the neo-Gothic style by the end of the 19th century (almost like St Vitus Cathedral at Prague Castle). The interior has impressive frescos and decorations depicting life in Kutná Hora, including miners at work. It is important to say that St Barbara is a saint of all miners.
The Jesuit College
On your way to the St Barbara Cathedral, you pass along the building paved by the numerous baroque statues while having a magnificent view all over the city. That is the Jesuit College that houses the Gallery of the Central Bohemian Region (GASK). Before the gallery was established here, it used to be a seat of Jesuits since 1667, but the order was disbanded in Bohemia in 1773. The military took over the building, and it became a training center and hospital for soldiers until 1998. Today, you can find here numerous exhibitions of 20th and 21st centuries art. Check the actual program of GASK. One more secret tip is to look to the gardens that bring you different points of view over the St Barbara Cathedral.
Czech Silver Museum
If you want to understand the history of Kutná Hora, take a tour underground to the mining tunnels. It takes about 1,5 hours, and you can explore about 500 meters of medieval mine shaft beneath the town. As a group, you wear a mining tunic, helmet, and lamp to explore the city’s original silver source.
The Italian Court (Vlašský dvůr) was a place where silver coins, the Prague groschens, were minted since 1300. The Italian experts were called from Florence to start this process. The workers produced about 2.000 coins a day by hammering design into round silver pieces. The Court also served as a residence of the king during his visits to Kutná Hora. That is why you can visit an impressive Audience Hall from the 15th century and the Chapel of St Wenceslas that is interestingly decorated in art deco style.
This small chocolate factory is hiding a real treasure. One of the best chocolates in the world! Lada and Pavel decided to continue the Lidka chocolate tradition that exported chocolates and bonbons worldwide from 1918 until 1948 when the factory was nationalized. They are winning global awards for their chocolate. Don’t hesitate to visit their small museum with a chocolate tasting. You will surely buy your favorite one.
You might hear about the ossuary in Sedlec as one of the most bizarre places in the world. It is understandable, not everywhere are making art out of human bones. You can find here the remains of about 40.000 people. Over 30.000 people were buried here after the plague in 1318, and another 10.000 people died during the Hussite Wars after 1421. Since then, for over 500 hundred years, bones have been redecorating and rearranging over time by various artists, including Jan Blažej Santini – Aichel. You can find here chandeliers, pyramids, crosses, or coat of arms.
This is the most impressive Cathedral of the Czech Republic, believe me. The beauty lies in the simplicity of genius architecture. Here you can find a unique combination of original Gothic Cathedral with a moderate baroque reconstruction. The responsible architect is again Jan Blažej Santini – Aichel. You won’t find here typical stained-glass windows and rich decorations. Instead, admire the floating spiral staircase and the view from the gallery. For its unique architecture, Cathedral is listed as the UNESCO heritage (together with St Barbara Cathedral.
Romanesque St. James’s Church
Not far from Sedlec, you can find a truly hidden gem of the Czech Republic that reopened its doors in June 2020. It is an original Romanesque church from the 12th century with the oldest preserved sculptures in our country. You can find it in the nearby village Církvice and please, take a tour inside. You will be impressed.
How to Get to Kutná Hora
This small town lies about 70 km East of Prague. You can reach it by car within one hour, or take a direct train from Prague Main station to the Kutná Hora city center. You can then change to a local train or bus to Sedlec where you can find the ossuary and Cathedral.