Kutna Hora - in Bohemia
I come to Kutna Hora by train from Prague to see the Bone Church. It is about a kilometer walk from the railway station travelling in the general direction of the town center.
Sedlac Ossuary - the Bone Church
History of the Sedlac Ossuary
The church was originally part of a Cistern monastrey founded in 1142. According to legend a monk sent to Jerusalem in 1278 bought back soil from the area where Jesus was cruxified (Golgotha). Golgotha soil mixed with church cemetary soil transformed the cemetary into very desirble place to be buried. Towards the end of the 15th century its area was reduced. Exhumed bones were placed in an ossaury. The bones were originally arranged into pyramids by a partially-blind monk. He supposedly regained his sight on completion of the task. The current decorative arrangements date from the 16th century.
Bones are arranged in various designs, the shape of letters; a goblet; curtains ; a coat of arms and four large bell shaped mounds. Most date from the 14th and early 15th century. Many were killed by the Black Death (1346-1353) and during the Hussite wars (1419-34)
Having not done any research I have no idea, apart from the Bone Church, what is here. Leaving the bone church I walk along the main road until I reach a picturesque square where I consume a small meal. It was here I see three tent like spires. Definately worth investigating.
Gothic Water Tank
Along the way I encounter a large tank decorated with Gothic designs. Built in 1493-95 it surrounds a water tank which was filled using wooden pipelines. You can still obtain water from a tap. The water pressure is strong enough to punch the bottle from your hand if you are not careful. A nice little discovery. I continue my journey.
Church of St Barbara
The object of my quest is in sight. It is the UNESCO-listed, cathedral sized Church of St Barbara. While approaching its rear along a cobblestoned promenade with the Jesuit College on the right-hand side and a baroque statue lined wall on the left, I stop and look back at the view over Kutna Hora. A view dominated by St Jame's church. Commenced in 1330 and completed in 1420, it is the town's oldest church. I later attempt to visit, but it is closed.
I pay the entrance fee of 60 Czech Kroner and enter.
The church is named the Church of St Barbara's because is it dedicated to the Virgin Barbara, a Christian matyr, who is the patron saint of mining. Kutna Hora use to be a silver mining town. Today its economy is based on tourism and wine making. Founded by rich mine owners building commenced in 1388. It was consecrated in 1403. Although not complete and intially without a roof, it was used for prayers. The Hussites War which started in 1420 delayed construction for 60 years. Lack of finance also caused delays. Completion finally occurred in 1905 after a major restoration and the building of the main alter.
Because of the long building period it has been built in a number of styles including Gothic, Baroque and Neo-Gothic.
The interior is ornately decorated. Amongst its decorations is a statue of a miner. Appriopriate because St Barbara's is considered to be a miners church. On its walls are many partially restored medieval frescoes. It addition to religious themes are scenes from the secular life of Kutna Hora. Even more prominant are the huge Neo-Gothic stain glass windows which date from the 19th and early 20th century. They depict historical scenes from Kutna Hora and Czech history. On the ceiling miner's arms are displayed. The main alter, installed between 1901 and 1905 features an image of the Lord's Last Supper.
Kutna Hora can be visited on a day trip from Prague. However, more than one day is needed to properly appreciate its attractions. In addition to St Barbara's and the Bone Church there is, amongst other attractions, the Czech Museum of Silver; the Gallery of Central Bohemia, housed in the Jesuit College; St James's church and the Cathedral of the Assumption of Our Lady.