During our time in the Czech Republic - and after hearing from friends and family how unique the town of Kutna Hora was - we decided to make a day trip and visit. When we first inquired how to best get there from Prague - our hotel concierge said they could arrange a private van to take us there in "air-conditioned comfort". There were four us and the price was around 70 euros - about $85 per person. Fortunately - the more we asked the easier we found it would be to just take the train. IF private tours are your thing - please do so - but I have found it much more enjoyable and entertaining to take the wonderful local transportation that you find all over Europe.
We caught the tram to the train station (one block from the hotel) and then for 6 euros - $7.35 per person ROUNDTRIP we took the one hour relaxing train ride to Kutna Hora. From the station in Kutna Hora it is a short walk to the Sedlec Kostnice Ossuary - well known as the "Bone Church".
The Sedlec Ossuary is home to over 60,000 remains that have been gathered over the centuries. It was established by Parish Monks in the early 1100's and has a special if not eerie history. There is a small entrance fee that is used to offset the expense of maintaining the church and used to pay for it's continued excavation.
Along with numerous stacks, chandeliers and sometimes humorous formations and arrangements of human bones there are two large pyramids of bones and skulls piled high in opposing areas of the main floor. It is said that a blind monk starting building them to honor the ancestors and those who had died by plague during the 14th century, the Hussite wars in the 15th century or just natural causes through out the centuries. The story goes that when he was finished - he regained his sight.
The tenting around the entrance to the Ossuary is where the excavations continue along with some modifications needed to support the structure. As you can see from the pictures - remains are still being unearthed today. The archeologist we talked with said they thought the skull and accompanying skeleton were from the 14th century - the person (probably) might have died from the plague. Very strange.
Unique doesn't come close to describing the Sedlec Ossuary. It is not to be missed.
Kutna Hora was a very wealthy city at one time. Silver mines were discovered and that mining contributed to the glory days of the city including building numerous wondrous cathedrals which are still found in the area. The wealth of Kutna Hora rivaled that of Prague during this time and the city displayed this wealth through contributions to the churches.
One magnificent structure: The Cathedral of the Assumption of Our Lady and St. John the Baptist is a UNESCO-World Heritage site. What makes this cathedral significant is that it has been undergoing extensive reconstruction and the interior is rich in history, details and bursting with vibrant colors. In addition you have the opportunity to view the roof of the interior ceiling after climbing into the attic from the top of the spiral staircase. This gives you a glimpse as to the massive block and timber structure of the cathedral itself. I was awestruck by the craftmanship from a distant age and how difficult and back breaking the work must have been.
The cathedral was declared a UNESCO site in 1995 but only after the extensive work that has been done was it re-opened to the public in 2009. It is still a working church, continues to be restored and is in use today.
Taking the time to stroll through the cathedral to see the massive Monstrance which is housed in the treasury room and to view the work that has been accomplished to bring back the glory of the cathedral in all it's splendor - a trip to Kutna Hora - is a must for any trip to the Czech Republic.
BK Travel Tips
To enjoy travel and see the world and often yourself as if for the first time and with with the eyes of a young child.