Set out to the historic town on an air-conditioned bus ‒ Kutná Hora is part of UNESCO’s cultural heritage. During the trip to Kutná Hora you will visit a late gothic jewel ‒ St. Barbara’s Church. The church belongs among the most famous buildings of Kutná Hora and has always been a symbol of the town and the pride of its miners.
You will then take a walk around the town. After this guided walk we will take you to the nearby Ossuary. This Roman-Catholic Cemetery Church of All Saints is a two-storey building built in the 14th century. The local underground chapel is renowned for its very specific decoration made of human bones, of which there are more than 40,000.
The journey from Prague to Kutná Hora takes approximately 1 hour.
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Interesting facts about Kutná Hora:
Kutná Hora is historically best known for its role as a significant mining town and center of silver mining. From the 13th to the 16th century, Kutná Hora was one of the wealthiest and most important cities in Central Europe, thanks to its extensive silver deposits.
In the 1370s, a silver rush literally broke out here, and thousands of people moved to the then small settlement not only from the surrounding area but even from German regions! By the end of the 13th century, one-third of European silver production came from here. In 1300, King Wenceslaus II issued the Ius regale montanorum, or the Royal Mining Law, which established royal rights over silver mining and minting. In the same year, he introduced a unified coin, the Prague groschen, and concentrated its minting in Kutná Hora. In 1318, Kutná Hora was elevated to the status of a city.
Probably everyone logically assumes that the name of this city is derived from the fact that silver was mined here, that is, silver was "kut" or extracted. Yes, that is one of the three interpretations of the origin of the name. The second version, often cited, comes from the story of the Sedlec monk Antonín. Allegedly, while resting in a field near the Church of All Saints, he had a dream in which three silver rods appeared to him. To remember the place where the rods were supposed to be, he marked it with his "kutna" (pickaxe) and hurried back to the monastery to tell his fellow monks about his vision. However, the truth is much more prosaic... The majority of the original population was German until the beginning of the 15th century, so the name comes from the Middle High German term "Kutta," meaning pit or hole, and "Hora" was a common designation for a place where mining took place.
Kutná Hora is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. It was included as the "Historical Centre of Kutná Hora with the Church of St. Barbara and the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary." This inscription took place in 1995.
UNESCO recognized the historical center of Kutná Hora as a significant monument with a rich heritage of medieval mining and silver wealth that the city acquired during its glorious past. Kutná Hora is considered a rare example of a well-preserved architectural and urban complex reflecting influences from various historical periods.
Special emphasis was placed on the Church of St. Barbara, which is one of the most important Gothic buildings in the Czech Republic. The Church of St. Barbara is a symbol of wealth, artistic mastery, and spiritual significance of Kutná Hora. This majestic church was inscribed on the World Heritage List as part of the historical center of the city.
Another significant element is the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary at the Sedlec Monastery, located on the territory of the former Cistercian convent. The church is an example of Baroque architecture, and its interiors are adorned with rich frescoes and other artistic elements.
The inscription of Kutná Hora on the UNESCO World Heritage List highlights the exceptional nature and significance of this historical city and contributes to its protection and recognition as a significant cultural and historical site not only in the Czech Republic but also in a global context.
Very few people who visit Kutná Hora, or more precisely Sedlec, realize that the official name of the Ossuary is the Church of All Saints, and the Ossuary is just a part of it. This funerary church originally belonged to the local Cistercian monastery, and it is said that the abbot Heidenreich brought a handful of soil from the Holy Land's Golgotha during his journey to Jerusalem and scattered it across the cemetery. This made the cemetery's soil part of the Holy Land, and allegedly, bodies would decompose into dust within a few days. Many people, not only from Bohemia but also from neighboring countries, wished to be buried here. The Ossuary became the final resting place for 30,000 people who died during the plague epidemics and approximately 10,000 people who died during the Hussite Wars.
The construction of this two-story funerary church, with the Ossuary in the lower level and a chapel in the upper level, began in the early 14th century. In 1421, the chapel was set on fire by the Hussites. When the large cemetery was abolished at the end of the 15th century, the exhumed bones were stored both inside and outside the underground part of the church. In 1511, a blind monk arranged the bones into six large pyramids, and it is said that his sight was restored afterward.
In 1784, Emperor Joseph II issued a decree that abolished monasteries that were not hospitals or educational institutions, including the Cistercian monastery to which the Church of All Saints belonged. The property previously owned by the monastery was purchased by the Schwarzenberg family from Orlík, who had the Ossuary remodeled into its current form. The woodcarver František Rint from Česká Skalice then created a unique decoration made of human bones for them.
The peculiar interior decoration is the reason why around 400,000 visitors from all over the world come to this place each year. As mentioned before, the blind monk from the Sedlec monastery first cleaned the skulls of the deceased and arranged them into six pyramids. When Jan Blažej Santini-Aichel came to renovate the local monastery in the early 18th century, he used two of these pyramids for the interior decoration. However, the most significant decoration was created by the master builder of the Schwarzenberg family, František Rint, whose name and the year 1870 can be found in the Ossuary. He disinfected and whitened the bones with calcium chloride and then created this unique decoration, which includes the coat of arms of the Schwarzenberg family, chalices, and garlands, all made from human bones. Every visitor is sure to be captivated by the central enormous chandelier, which is said to be made from all the bones found in the human body.
Amidst this spectacle, the original purpose should not be forgotten: MEMENTO MORI, or remember death.
A trip from Prague to Kutná Hora is a great experience.
Don't forget to check out our other day trips. TOURS OUT OF PRAGUE