Eighty kilometers east of Prague is the medieval city of Kutna Hora. Known for its silver mines, this once thriving city used to be the leading producer of silver in Europe. Today, Kutna Hora has no more silver left, but it has a famous ossuary. You should definitely visit the city if you can manage to tear yourself away from Prague. Here is everything you need to know for a day trip to Kutna Hora.
You can take either a train or a bus to reach Kutna Hora. The train station in close to the bone church on the outskirts of Kutna Hora. To reach the city center, you will have to take a local bus. The bus from Prague will drop you in the city center and you will have to take a local bus to reach the bone church.
Fast trains will get you there in less than an hour while slow trains will take about two hours. Numerous fast trains depart from Prague to Kutna Hora daily and cost only 9 euros in second class for a one-way ticket. Buses will take more than an hour and cost more or less the same as a train ticket.
Alternatively, you can also join a guided tour that departs from Prague.
Sedlec Ossuary (aka Bone Church)
This is a must for anybody who loves the dark and macabre. The ossuary is located underneath a church, on the outskirts of Kutna Hora. The church dates back to the 15th century, but the cemetery that surrounds it is much older. This particular cemetery was very popular. Everybody wanted to be buried here. Why?
An abbot of the monastery was sent on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and returned in 1278 with soil from Golgotha. This soil was sprinkled over the abbey cemetery. The ground was seen as holy, and as a result, everybody wanted to be buried here.
Centuries passed and many people lost their lives to the Black Plague and the Hussite Wars. Thousands of people were buried in the cemetery. It eventually ran out of space. Human remains were removed from the graves and stored behind the newly built church. Eventually, the stack of bones behind the church also became a problem, and a half-blind monk was assigned to deal with the remains.
Inside the ossuary
He came up with a brilliant plan to stack the bones in the ossuary below the church. He carefully stacked the remains in 6 pyramids. Today, only 4 pyramids are left. It is also said that upon completing this task, the monk regained his sight.
The bone decorations inside the church were made by Frantisek Rint. Decorations inside the ossuary include an extravagant chandelier, the signature of Rint, the name of Jesus in Hebrew and the coat of arms of the Schwarzenberg who commissioned Rint.
The bones in the pyramids are in no way glued together, so the pyramids are not stable. The government is now in the process of cleaning the bones and stabilizing the pyramids. One bone is removed and cleaned at a time and it will take more than a year to clean one pyramid!
Initially, it was believed that the remains of 40 000 people were used in the church. Today it’s estimated to be around 60 000 to 70 000. Entrance fee is only 60 CZK for adults (just over 2 euros).
Church of Assumption Our Lady and Saint John the Baptist
Just down the road from the ossuary, you’ll find an interesting church. A part of the church was sold to a tobacco factory year ago. Today, the church is a UNESCO world heritage site. So this is the only tobacco factory in the world to be protected by UNESCO!
St. Barbara’s Church
St Barbara’s Church looks like a gothic cathedral (but it’s not). The church is incomplete as the money dried up when the silver did.
It’s as beautiful on the inside as on the outside. You’ll find statues and original paintings depicting the lives of people in Kutna Hora, rather than biblical scenes. It is free to enter the church.
The legend of St. Barbara
I found the legend of St. Barbara rather interesting so I’m sharing it here. She lived with her father in a country, believed to be modern day Turkey. Her father wanted her to marry a wealthy man, but Barbara who had converted to Christianity wanted to marry a husband who shared her beliefs. Angered by her choice, her father locked Barbara away in a tower.
One night she managed to escape by an opening that appeared in the wall of the tower. Along the way, she asked a couple of men for help. Unfortunately, the men betrayed Barbara. They went straight to her father.
Her father captured her and placed her inside the tower again. He tortured her every day but her wounds would miraculously heal overnight. Eventually, he beheaded Barbara. The church was named after her.
Panoramic view of Kutna Hora
Just behind St. Barbara’s Church you’ll get a stunning panoramic view of the city center of Kutna Hora.
Where and what to eat
I highly recommend eating at Pivnice Dacicky. This is the second best restaurant in the Czech Republic for Czech cuisine and the prices are very affordable. The portions of food are very generous too! You’ll never be able to finish a starter, main course, and dessert by yourself.
For vegetarians, you only have a few options on the menu. I highly recommend the spinach pancakes. They were very tasty and filling. For meat eaters, my husband recommends the beef and cream. If you want to order a dessert, the shredded pancakes with cranberry jam are delicious!
City center of Kutna Hora
You can expect to find lots of interesting buildings in the city center of Kutna Hora.
The city brought in specialists from Florence, Italy, to assist the locals and teach them the art of silver minting. The Italians used to stay in this part of the city.
Kutna Hora’s ‘Charles Bridge’
Statues line the bridge which connects the center of Kutna Hora to St Barbara’s Church. From the bridge, you also have a stunning view of the city of Kutna Hora.
Church of St. James the Elder
Construction of the church started in the 14th century. Today the church has only one tower instead of two due to the extensive mining in the area. This church is currently collapsing and in desperate need of renovation.
Ever wondered how a medieval toilet used to look like? Of course, you have! The waste went straight into the street…look out down below! Kutna Hora was incredibly dirty and unsanitary during this time period.
Kutna Hora makes for a great day trip from Prague! Now you know how to get there, what to see and do, and where to eat. What are you waiting for?