Friday, March 13, 2015

5 Things to Do in - and around - Kutna Hora in 5 Hours

Cathedral of St. Barbara
This is hands down the scariest post I have ever written. On second thoughts, maybe I should've waited till Halloween to post this one up but then that would've been too far away. Kutna Hora and its neighboring town of Sedlec, in Czech Republic, are both UNESCO World Heritage sites. These small towns are beyond charming and without giving away more, lets get to 5 things to do in - and around - Kutna Hora in 5 hours! 

1. Take a train there from Prague: Yes, that's it. Actually take a train from Prague (Czech Railways) and get off in Kutna Hora. The train ride there and back is part of the charm of your trip. Outside of the glamour and attractions of Old Town Square and Lesser Town in Prague, still lies the city itself, the outskirts, the suburbs, and the neighboring small towns. From behind the window of your train, you get to see an entirely different reality of Prague that most travelers probably never get to see or maybe don't pay attention to. It is not sad, but it is gloomier and less glamorous. It is a way to in a way see a city that you don't really get to see for all it is, because you get too caught up in its more glamorous touristy parts. Also, it is actually the fastest and most convenient way to get there. Just make sure you catch the last train back to Prague or you will be stuck on a beautiful, but dark and ghosty, town. 

Tip 1: Nate wanted me to tell you NOT to exchange your money at the train station in Prague. He practically got ripped off as their rates are lower anddd they take basically half your money as commission! If you need to exchange money, do it in the city. 

Tip 2: Follow the crowds when you get off the train in Kutna Hora. They are all going straight to the bone chapel! Which brings me to…

The Bone Chapel
2. Obviously go see the bone chapel, or as it is more properly called, Sedlec Ossuary. This chapel is decorated with actual human bones of about 50,000 or more people!!! As one tour guide was explaining to his group, the abbot of the Cistercian Monastery claimed that the soil in the cemetery there was holy and anyone who was buried there would go to heaven. So people from everywhere started wanting to get buried there after their death. They kept trying to expand the cemetery but when space ran out, they actually started digging up people and putting them inside the chapel to make room for the incoming. So when bones of thousands of people started to pile up, the Schwarzenberg family hired Frantisek Rint in 1870 to create a beautiful chapel out of bones. 

Close up of the wall work
Close up of the pillars in the center
Rint's signature by the entrance, also with bones
An angel decoration with a human skull in its hand
The entrance to the chapel
View from upstairs

Lighting a candle and making a wish as I always do
The infamous bone chandelier!
Wall work
The shield of the Schwarzenberg family who had commissioned the work, also made entirely of bones

To be honest, I still don't know how I survived this experience. But despite the IMMENSE creepiness of the place there's still something there that helps you overcome your fears and see one of the most interesting works of humanity. 
3. Take a walk through the streets. And make sure to look outside the windows when you are taking the bus to go to the other side of town. Because chances are you have never given a small town like this one a visit. A town that was once called the Jewel and Treasury of the country due to its wealth, has gone through communism, post-communism, and a resurgence of tourists and the results are amazing. You will see historic landmarks, majestic monuments, and streets that are still stuck in the communist era along with its older residents. It's beautiful, simple, mesmerizing, and worth your time. 

Take a walk through the streets
St. James Church
4. See the Cathedral of St. Barbara. Go see it. Light a candle. Say a prayer. See how majestic it is.

And then walk the nearby grounds and go inside Jesuit College to check out the place and maybe even take a look at some of the art exhibits. 

5. Go see the Church of the Assumption of Our Lady and St. John the Baptist. Because it's a baroque-gothic church. You can walk under its roof and it's pretty creepy. It's simple but has extravagant decorations. And it obviously has dead mummified people in glorious glass coffins, OUT IN THE OPEN! shivers…. 

This should cover some of the most fascinating places in Kutna Hora. If you have more time to spend then definitely take the time to check out what other sights Kutna Hora has to offer. If you enjoyed this read, follow my blog, subscribe to my Instagram (travelwithava), and leave me a comment below. That would be amazing!  

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