8 places not to miss in and around Kutna Hora. Czech Republic

8 places not to miss in and around Kutna Hora. Czech Republic

The town of Kutná Hora, founded in the first half of the 13th century, was originally a mining settlement at a silver mine. By the end of the same century the small town had become a big silver mining center and so it became a wealthy royal town. Kutná Hora is rightly considered to be a treasury, the wealth of which stood at the height of the Czech kingdom.

Kutna Hora boasts absolutely unique buildings from various historical periods and architectural styles and at the end of the last century it was included in the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List due to its historical uniqueness.

St. Barbara’s Cathedral in Kutna Hora

The best place to start in the historic center of Kutná Hora is the most famous architectural attraction of the city – the Gothic St. Barbara’s Cathedral (Chrám svaté Barbory, #1 on the map). The construction of the cathedral dedicated to the patroness of miners was initiated and financed by rich Kutná Hora citizens in the second half of 14th century. Such famous architects as Jan Parlerz and Matyáš Rejsek took part in its construction, and according to some sources, the cathedral had to be twice as big as it is in fact.

The construction of St. Barbara’s Cathedral depended directly on the prosperity of the Kutná Hora silver mines and was carried out in stages. When silver mining ceased in the first half of the 16th century, work on the temple was halted, and the St. Barbara’s Cathedral was left unfinished. For the next few centuries, the construction of the temple was supported by the Jesuit order, at which time the cathedral acquired a baroque roof and other baroque elements. In fact, the Cathedral of St. Barbara in Kutna Hora was completed only at the beginning of the 20th century.

During the original reconstruction of the temple, the Cathedral of St. Barbara received a new Neo-Gothic façade, Gothic roof, stained glass windows, and a main altar, based on descriptions of the original Late Gothic altar lost when the temple was owned by the Jesuits. The cathedral chapels have preserved frescoes dating back to the 15th century, and the soaring ribbed vault of the main aisle rivals in size and splendor the St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague Castle.

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St. Barbara’s Cathedral and the surroundings of Kutná Hora

St. Barbara’s Cathedral in Kutná Hora is a masterpiece of late Gothic architecture. It is both a national cultural monument and a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site. Nowadays regular divine services, group excursions and organ concerts are held there.

Chapel of the Body of the Lord

In close proximity to St. Barbara’s Cathedral there is another Kutná Hora attraction – the Chapel of the Lord’s Body (Kaple Božího těla, no. 2 on the map). The construction of this two-story cemetery chapel began in the second half of the 14th century, but only the lower floor was built for the burial vault, while the upper chapel was never completed for unknown reasons.

At the end of the last century, the state of the chapel deteriorated so much that it was included in the list of one hundred endangered architectural monuments in the world. After the renovation was completed in 2000, the Corpus Christi Chapel in Kutná Hora was opened to the public, concerts, weddings and other celebrations are held in the chapel and there is a beautiful view of the Kutná Hora surroundings from the observation deck on the roof of the chapel.

Lower floor of the Chapel of the Body of the Lord

The Jesuit College in Kutná Hora

Continuing your tour of Kutná Hora, walk along the wide Barborská Street, decorated after the example of Prague’s Charles Bridge with statues of saints. The second of the thirteen Baroque statues is female and represents St. Barbara, the patron saint of Kutná Hora.

On the left side of the street is a two-story building that looks a bit like a palace, thanks to its Baroque facade decorated with stucco, pilasters and towers. It is a complex of buildings of the former Jesuit college (Jezuitská kolej, #3 on the map), built in the late 17th century. The college existed for over a hundred years, and after the dissolution of the Jesuit order was closed and until the end of the last century belonged to the military.

Barborská Street, Jesuit College on the right

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Nowadays the Jesuit College houses a modern art gallery, which also displays works by young Czech artists and designers and an exhibition telling the story of the Jesuit College in Kutna Hora.

Hrádek Silver Museum and Medieval Silver Mine

Kutna Hora is home to the Czech Silver Museum, housed in a small Gothic fortress from the late 13th century, located here on Barborská Street.

Originally the Hrádek fortress (“Hrádek”, no. 4 on the map), i.e. “Little Castle”, was part of the Kutná Hora fortifications, but was rebuilt in the late 15th century and got its present appearance in the style of a late Gothic castle palace. The owner of the palace, who grew rich by illegal silver mining, mined and smelted it in mines directly under the castle.

In the Silver Museum an exposition is presented, illustrating the history of the town in the period of “silver” prosperity of Kutná Hora. There are exhibits showing the process of silver mining, including a huge wooden device capable of lifting weights of over 1000 kilograms from a depth of 200 meters. Also in the silver museum you can put on a mining helmet and go under the castle and explore the medieval silver mine under the town.

St. Jakub’s Church in Kutna Hora

Continuing on your walk around Kutná Hora, after seeing Hraděk Castle, turn off onto the small but very picturesque Ruthardská Street, which will take you to the next attraction of the town, the Church of St. Jakub (Kostel svatého Jakuba, #5 on the map).

Construction of this temple began in the first half of the 14th century and the St. Jakub’s Church was the first stone temple on Kutná Hora. The original design of the large Gothic church was to have two towers, but only one tower was erected due to its location above the silver mines and the unstable ground beneath the church. The unusual height of the single tower was the reason for the second name of the church and until the 17th century, St. Jacob’s Church in Kutná Hora was often called the High Church or the High Cathedral.

The Lonely Tower of St. Jakub’s Church

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Gothic choir pews from the late 15th century have been preserved in the church, while most of the interior of the church dates back to the late 17th century, including the Baroque confessionals and the altar. St. Jakub’s Church in Kutná Hora also boasts two rare Baroque organs. Today, regular services and concerts are held in the church.

Vlašský Dvůr

The next place of interest in Kutná Hora is Vlašský dvůr (Vlašský dvůr, no. 6 on the map), or Italian Court, located a few steps away from the St. Jakub’s Church.

The Vlašský dvůr is a beautifully fortified castle, built at the end of the 13th century, which was originally used to store silver in Kutná Hora. However, at the beginning of the 14th century, as a part of the monetary reform introduced by King Wenceslas II and which closed the mints in the whole Czech kingdom, the Prague Central Mint was established in the Vlašský dvor. It was here that the new silver coins – the Prague groschen, which became one of the strongest European currencies of the time, were minted. The Italian Court came to be called the Italian Court in honour of the Florentine financiers who were invited by Wenceslas II to carry out the monetary reform.

The courtyard of the royal residence in Kutna Hora

During several centuries of the richness and glory of Kutná Hora, the Vlášský Court was the center of the economic power of the Czech state. In the early 15th century, it became the favorite residence of King Wenceslas IV, and King Vladislav II Jagellon, who was elected there, made the Vlas Palace his permanent residence, and Kutná Hora his royal town.

Nowadays the Vlašský dvůr is one of the most visited tourist sites in Kutná Hora, the “Royal Mint” museum is situated there, you can also visit some of the most interesting parts of the castle – the royal chapel and the audience hall.

The Plague Pillar or the Plague Column in Kutna Hora

Continuing to explore Kutná Hora, it is impossible to miss the baroque gem of the town – the Plague Column (Morový sloup, #7 on the map), erected in the early 18th century. It is a monument to thousands of victims of the plague epidemic that struck Kutná Hora in 1713, and a statue of the Virgin Mary stands atop the column in gratitude for deliverance from the plague.

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Stone House

Walk through Wenceslas Square and you’ll come to another Gothic landmark of Kutná Hora. The Stone House (Kamenný dům, no. 8 on the map), which was built in the second half of the 15th century and belonged to the town clerk, is unique in its elaborately decorated stone facade and large cellars. It is considered one of the most important monuments of Late Gothic architecture in Europe, and one of the most striking surviving Late Gothic houses in Bohemia.

Nowadays the Steinerne Haus is managed by the Czech Silver Museum with a permanent exhibition, presenting the life of the Kutná Hora citizens in the 17thand 19th centuries.

Facade of the Steinerne Baumý dům (Stone House)

The Church of St. John of Nepomuk in Kutna Hora

From the Stone House walk along Lierovou Street to the Baroque Church of St. Jan Nepomuckého (Kostel svatého Jana Nepomuckého, no. 9 on the map). It is the only Baroque church in Kutna Hora.

According to the decision of the town council, construction of the church in connection with the celebration of the canonization of Jan Nepomutsky began in the middle of the 18th century. The church was built according to the design of the famous architect F. M. Kanka, who worked in Kutna Hora at the invitation of the Jesuit order. During the extensive reconstruction of the Church of St. John of Nepomuk, at the end of the 20th century, the luxurious Rococo and Baroque interior was restored, the main idea of which was to honor and glorify the patron saints of the Czech lands. The frescos illustrating the legend of St. John of Nepomuk and the church furniture were also restored.

Interior of the Church of St. John of Nepomuk.

An unusual phenomenon can be observed in this church in May and June. The sun’s rays penetrating through the red stained glass window very brightly illuminate the image of the saint and create the impression that his heart is bleeding. This unique phenomenon is best seen on the eve of the feast of St. John of Nepomuk.

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After the reconstruction, concerts and exhibitions are held in this Kutna Hora temple in addition to divine services.

Stone Fountain

Another Kutná Hora sight (Kamenná kašna, no. 10 on the map) is also visible from the Church of St. John of Nepomukský.

The Late Gothic Stone Fountain was built at the end of the 15th century to a design by the famous architect Matyáš Rejsek who also took part in the construction of St. Barbara’s Cathedral in Kutná Hora. The fountain is interesting not only from the point of view of the history of art, but also as a technical monument because it was part of the medieval water supply system of the city. Water was supplied to it by wooden pipes, it was covered with a roof and served as a water reservoir that fed the other public fountains of Kutná Hora. There were also two private branches of water supply from the Stone Fountain: one to Hradek – for the needs of the family of the rich owner of the “Little Castle”, and the other, called “splashing water for the King” – to the Vlašský Court.

The stone fountain was the source of drinking water for the townspeople until the end of the 19th century, now it is one of the symbols of Kutná Hora.

The Stone Fountain in the evening

A self-guided tour of Kutná Hora can end at the Stone Fountain, but the impression of this silver city would probably not be complete without another visit to one of the most famous Kutná Hora sights – the world famous Kostnice in Sedlice.

The main tourist information center in Kutná Hora is situated in one of the historic buildings on Palackého náměstí, 377/5. There you will be provided with information about historical sites, cultural events, how to get to the place you want and where you can get something to eat. You can also buy maps, tickets, postcards and souvenirs there.

Additional information centers are located in the main railway station of Kutná Hora and near the St. Barbara’s Cathedral.

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