The small Bohemian city of Kutna Hora is most notable for its well-known churches. Outside of those, the city doesn’t leave you much to do that you can’t accomplish in four to five hours. This makes it the perfect place to enjoy a half-day trip from Prague. This Kutna Hora itinerary will take you to some of the city’s most prominent sites including the Sedlec Ossuary and St. Barbara’s Cathedral.
Getting to Kutna Hora from Prague
Getting to and from Kutna Hora from Prague can be done easily in around an hour. From Prague’s main station, you can take a train that takes you directly to the main train station in Kutna Hora. However, Kutna Hora has three stations, of which the main one is the farthest from anything you’ll want to visit. So connecting in the Kutna Hora main station to Kutna Hora Sedlec or Kutna Hora Mesto stations will probably save you some time and a lot of walking down empty boring streets in the middle of nowhere.
A return ticket from Prague can be used to arrive or depart from any of the Kutna Hora stations giving you maximum flexibility. However, the train that travels to and from Prague leaves approximately every two hours, so it’s in your best interest to become acquainted with the timetables so you’re not left waiting around the station with nothing to do.
The Kutna Hora itinerary
In the interest of saving time, you’ll probably want to arrive at one station and leave from another. Since one of our main reasons for going to Kutna Hora was to visit the Sedlec Ossuary, we got off at the main Kutna Hora station which is accessible by direct train from Prague. After that, you and several dozen other tourists will file down a highway-like street to the church and ossuary. The walk leaves a lot to be desired, as it’s in a suburb of Kutna Hora, but it’s no more than 15-20 minutes. Before you actually get to the Sedlec Ossuary, you’ll have to stop at the information center that’s on the way from the train station. This is the only place where you can buy tickets.
The convenient thing about this ticket office is that it allows you to get tickets to the city’s other main churches including St. Barbara’s Church. The inconvenient thing is that you may have to wait in line with all the people who just got off the train with you and all the people who just arrived on tour buses. The combination ticket, which is less than $10, includes entrance to the ossuary, St. Barbara’s, and the Cathedral of Assumption of Our Lady and St. John the Baptist (Katedrála nanebevzetí Panny Marie), which is right across from the information center.
The Cathedral of Assumption of Our Lady and St. John the Baptist
I suggest going to this church just because it’s included in the ticket and you might as well, but I was less than impressed by the gigantic UNESCO site. It’s notable for being part of the oldest Cistercian abbey in Bohemia. It also houses the oldest preserved Gothic monstrance in the world in its treasury. However, it’s decidedly underwhelming for being gigantic and nearly empty. The Baroque Gothic cathedral is somewhat imposing on the outside if not a little boxy. But the interior looks like if you moved into a palace with only enough furniture to fill a studio. The pale yellow walls look more like an insane asylum than it does an important church. But maybe I’m just picky about my churches. Giving it a good once-over should take you no more than a few minutes before you head over to the main event.
The Sedlec Ossuary
The Sedlec Ossuary is beneath the Cemetery Church of All Saints, which is actually free to visit. You can walk around the gravestones and up into the church with or without a ticket. However, if you want to go downstairs into the ossuary, you’ll need to pick up a ticket at the information center. The Czech Republic’s famed “Bone Church” truly lives up to its name. Despite being fairly small, every inch of the ornately decorated ossuary, from the chandeliers to the crown molding is made up of human bone.
The bones that decorate the church are the exhumed remains from the cemetery that surround it where people who died during the plague and the Hussite Wars were buried. The ossuary reflect the Medieval Christian concept of Memento Mori, an important reminder that you will one day die. Though the ossuary is fairly small, the detailed use of bone is worth taking a long look at. When you get closer up, you’ll find an impressive use of fingers, pelvises, and vertebrae. Despite the long lines for tickets, it didn’t feel so crowded, though I can imagine that the site being impossible during high season.
Getting to Kutna Hora center
After you’ve wrapped up your exploration of Sedlec, you’ll make your way to the center of Kutna Hora, which is decidedly nicer than the suburb of Sedlec. However, it does take almost 20-30 minutes of walking along the same desolate highway to get there. Though there are bus stops, judging from the fact that not a single one passed us as we headed into the city, it might take you longer to get there by public transportation. Another option is to go back to the train station and take the train to Kutna Hora Mesto, but since that also involves a lot of walking and potentially waiting for the train, you’re better off just doing the walk.
The sights of Kutna Hora
The last stop on your combination ticket, arguably the most impressive, is St. Barbara’s Cathedral which is clear across the center of Kutna Hora. So even if you intend to see nothing else, it won’t be difficult to see some of the most picturesque sites of the city; they’ll be on your way. The Three Kings House, similar to some of the painted houses in Prague, depicts the three monarchs of the Czech Republic. Just a few blocks from that, you’ll see the Plague Column in one of the city’s main squares. The column, which is decorated with a statue of the Virgin Mary, commemorates those killed in the contemporary plague.
As you explore center of town, you may want to stop and eat. The quiet cobblestone streets house some great restaurants like Restaurace V Ruthardce which has a lovely beer garden to enjoy in the summer and incredible and comforting Czech food all year round.
One of the most prominent buildings in the city’s landscape is the Italian Court which is a coin minting museum. On a half-day trip, it might be inconvenient to visit because you’ll need to take a guided tour and wait for tour that is offered in your language. If you do, you’ll spend up to 45 minutes on the tour and take home a newly minted coin. You can see the Italian Court from the beautiful road of Barborska that leads up to St. Barbara’s. This is a particularly nice walk in town because it’s a bit like Charles Bridge in Prague without the throngs of tourists. The road is dotted by statues on one side and flanked by the Jesuit College on the other. If you’re interested in sticking around a little longer, you can go to the museum inside, the Gallery of the Central Bohemian Region (GASK).
St. Barbara’s Cathedral
Though we came to Kutna Hora for the ossuary, it was easily overshadowed by St. Barbara’s Cathedral. Another one of the city’s UNESCO Heritage sites, this one actually feels like it deserves it. The massive church was designed to be twice the size of the current building, but when the town’s silver mines became less productive, construction slowed down and the church was finished abruptly with the wall that sits to the west of the cathedral. The remaining facade features a three-peak roof that is surrounded by flying buttresses, which are just as impressive from the outside as they are from the inside through the windows.
The inside of the church can be visited using a written guide that gives you a little bit of information about some of the most important altars and chapels of the church. You can also go upstairs to get a closer look at the organ and the statues that overlook the nave. Even if you don’t care at all about the Bone Church, St. Barbara’s is good reason to make the hour-long train ride to Kutna Hora from Prague
Once you’ve seen this church, you can pretty much call it a day. Kutna Hora Mesto will be the closest train station to get you out of the city. Just be sure there will be a train going out when you intend to leave or you’ll end up spending more time at the train stations than you will in the city.