Built on Silver
Knowledge of silver deposits in the area around Kutná Hora existed well before the town itself was formally established, there is archaeological evidence that surface silver deposits in the area had been exploited as early as the 10th century.
It was not until 1300 that Kutná Hora was truly put on history’s map, it was that year that the town began its ascent to becoming the second most important city in Bohemia after Prague itself. The silver wealth of Kutná Hora saw it declared a royal city and the seat of the central mint of the Czech lands.
Kutná Hora’s wealth and prominence grew steadily from the 13th through to the end of the 16th century. The Beginning of the 17th century brought with it the 30 Years’ War and a change in the city’s fortunes. At the end of hostilities, the city attempted to recapture its status but ultimately failed as the silver deposits had largely been depleted by that point in time.
Life After Silver
With the silver gone, the mint was closed in the late 1720s and the city entered a period of decline until the Czech National Revival movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries brought new life to it.
In fact, were it not for the national revival movement, buildings like the landmark St. Barbara’s cathedral and the Italian Court would likely have been lost to history as they had been allowed to fall into extreme states of dilapidation through much of the 18th century.
Through the 20th century to today, Kutná Hora has been a city primarily of monuments and tourism. In 1995, it was granted UNESCO protected status.
On the Well Worn Path
Kutná Hora is well known outside of the Czech Republic and one of the country’s main tourist draws outside of Prague. As such, it can get quite crowded in the high season.
Happily, the city maintains a distinctly non touristy feel in spite of the popularity, you can still feel the history as you walk through the streets.
Kutná Hora’s greatest claim to fame by far is the bone chapel in the suburb of Sedlec. A collection of human bones decoratively arranged in a macabre yet attractive manner. The centerpiece of the arrangement is a large chandelier which contains examples of every bone in the human body.
For much more information on Kutná Hora and all that it offers, follow this link: