A Day in Kutná Hora – The Coiners of Medieval Europe
One hour coach ride from Prague – 7 hours total
A charming medieval town inscribed in the world heritage fund UNESCO, played a crucial role in the European monetary system. Since the Middle Ages, the silver “Prague groschen“was a hard currency for several centuries. The “dollar” has as well an ancestor in the Bohemian lands, in the Renaissance silver mines in Joachimsthal. Hence the name Joachimstaler and simplified Taler that spread through Holland and the Habsburg empire overseas. The mines in Kutná Hora formed an entire third of the European production of silver already since the 1200´s, creating the economic dominance of the Bohemian kingdom in the middle ages. The 13th and 14th centuries local sovereigns ranged among the mightiest in the Europe. They called Kutná Hora the coiners from the cradle of banking, Florence.
Quite naturally, the city became extremely self-confident. To show their outstanding position at the time when the relative power of Prague as the region’s first city was on the decline, the citizens hired a royal architect to realize a project of a cathedral that was originally supposed to stand at the Prague Castle. The result is a magnificent 15th century cathedral of St Barbara with a vaulting that seems floating in the space. The Cathedral of the Assumption at Sedlec and a Cistercian monastery are equally worth attention of an architecture lover besides the historical city center.
An ossuary, a spooky church made of human bones, is another fascinating and unusual site. The relatively small monument was decorated by a 19th century sculptor with bones of 50-70 thousand victims of a 14th century plague and of the Hussite wars on a command of the Schwarzenberg family in 1870. Last but not least, Jakub by Kutná Hora hides a treasure in a form of the greatest collection of Romanesque sculptures from the 1100´s in the lands of the Bohemian crown. In addition, there are several restaurants at Kutná Hora offering a traditional medieval menu. Depending on the interests, the narrow corridors of former silver mines winding deep under the ground can be explored as well.