You got the silver

Trip Start May 31, 2009
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Trip End Jul 07, 2009


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Flag of Czech Republic  , Bohemia,
Wednesday, July 1, 2009

There are two principal reasons people come to the small town of Kutná Hora, a day trip for some from Prague (though we spent the night here). The first is the Silver Mine tour, which really is a blast. There are tours in English; ours did not happen to be one of those. Still, they gave us a somewhat dull but informative English packet to be read along the tour. During the boring parts where the Czech guide was going on & on with nothing to look at, I listened intently, trying to pick up even one word's meaning from what she said. I was unsuccessful. The tour through the long-forgotten mine (rediscovered in the past half-century), however, made up for the packet & the long discourses in an unintelligible language. The tour consists of a walk in the former mine through narrow, low passageways with dripping ceilings and really swell formations. The light in which the miners had to work (as simulated by the guide) was laughably low; the progress they made (two inches a day) laughably slow; the dangers they faced (as did all miners at the time) myriad. For a while, Kutná Hora produced much of the western world’s silver, minting it right in town and getting rich in the process. We learned about the refinement and coining process after the Czechs on the tour left and the guide spoke English to us. It was a shame the Czechs (who were plainly disinterested the whole tour) did not leave earlier, for what the guide had to tell us was quite interesting. Definitely recommended, especially if you can get the tour in your native language.

Related to the mine is St. Barbara’s church. The exterior is amazing, and the evidence of mining’s importance is shown inside here: the ceiling painted with the crests of the different silver-working guilds, and statues of miners aplenty. The English information sheet here was actually pretty concise and well-written, and the organ was massive. After visiting Old Church #75873, you may think that they are all variations on the same thing (fair enough, sure). But this one was certainly worth the entrance fee.

The other reason most people visit Kutná Hora is Sedlec Ossuary (also called Kostnice). The chapel houses tens of thousands of human bones (the remains of plague victims) arranged quite nicely. It was a bit smaller than I expected—you would be hard pressed to spend a half-hour in here (without a camera, probably more like 10 minutes)—but I’m not saying I need a million bones to be satisfied. Check the photos for more info.
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