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Saturday, January 12, 2019

The Surprises of Kutna Hora

It was a cold winter morning when I was in Prague recently. I was excited to visit a place about which I had read before leaving for the Czech Republic. Just at an hour's train ride from Prague is a place called Kutna Hora nestled in the heart of Bohemia. Kutna Hora is a small sleepy town with a population of just about 20000 people. This little silver mining town has many attractions including two UNESCO heritage sites that are a huge draw for hundreds of visitors across the world. The Czech Republic has so much to offer the tourists that many places will pale in comparison.
The Church of the Assumption of OurLady and Saint John the Baptist

The interior of the Church of the Assumption of Our Lady
I was staying in the heart of the city so access to the central station Hlvani Nadrazi was convenient, from where I boarded an early morning train. Surprisingly, the train was crowded but it was a comfortable ride as the train passed through picturesque villages and streams to reach the Kutna Hora station in time. There is a small toy train which connects to the city centre at Kutna Hora passing through the Kostnice Sedelec. A short walk from Kostnice Sedlec brought me to the first UNESCO site, The Church of the Assumption of Our Lady and Saint John the Baptist. It is one of the oldest Gothic Baroque church in the country built around 1300. The most impressive works of the church include amazing vaults, paintings, the front wall, and its antechamber decorated with statues. The church had a tumultuous history due to treasures possessed due to its proximity to silver mines and several wars. The spiral staircase without a central pillar leads to a gallery of paintings. The precious relics of the saints are placed in glass coffins, embalmed in wax.

The Sedlec Ossuary
A short walk away from the monument is the Sedlec Ossuary or The Bone Church. This is a marvellous place which is unique in many ways. The entire structure is built on a cemetery where more than 60000 corpses were buried. A semi-blind monk arranged the bones and skulls from them to form furnishings and decorations.
The Bone Chandelier

The chandelier in the centre is made using every bone of the human body and is truly spectacular. The strange eerieness and a feeling of awe are seldom experienced as one moves from one relic to other. The garlands of skulls and different bones of the human body could perhaps never have been depicted in a more artistic manner.
The artistic creation with human bones. Notice the heap of bones in the backdrop
The mounds of bones and skulls make the sensations go numb momentarily. Hundreds of visitors throng this place every year for the macabre experience.
Saint Barbara's Church

Next, we took a bus to the city centre and walked up to the Saint Barbara's Church on a short climb atop a hillock. The silhouette of the facade is visible from a distance and the gothic spires are truly inspiring. It is now a UNESCO world heritage site. The construction of this edifice commenced in 1388 and completed in the early twentieth century.
The facade of Saint Barbara's Church
The pace of construction was a reflection of the fluctuating fortune of the silver mines in the vicinity and finally what emerged was a huge church with eight radial chapels, trapezoidal interiors, a beautiful organ supported by double arched flying buttresses. The glass windows, pulpits and altars are noteworthy too.
There are several other places of interests like a silver museum, Italian Court, Plague Column to name a few well worth a visit. The wines and vineyards of Kutna Hora, coffee parlours and bakeries deserve to be relished.

It was a day when we had so much to bite and little time to digest. A place highly recommended visiting if one is around Prague.

PS: The pictures were taken by self during the trip.

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