Millions of tourists visit Prague every year, making it one of the most popular holiday destinations in Europe. The capital of the Czech Republic and the ancient Kingdom of Bohemia, it offers tourists, scenic views, stunning architecture and an incredible history in a complete package. But the Czech Republic has more to offer than just Prague. The towns and cities near Prague like Kutná Hora, Český Krumlov, Karlstejn and Karlovy Vary offer a variety of experiences to visitors. If you are in the city for a few days, then a day trip from Prague to Kutna Hora is a must. The city of Kutna Hora rivalled Prague in its heyday and is today worth a dekko for its architectural heritage.
Why Go From Prague to Kutna Hora?
A true mining city, the fortunes of Kutná Hora ebbed and flowed with the mining of silver. In the medieval ages, it even matched Prague for the political and economic influence it wielded over Central Europe. Kutná Hora was once the residence of several Bohemian Kings, as well as the central mint that produced the ‘Silver Groschen’, the currency favoured by all of Central Europe.
However, it faced the brunt of the Hussite Wars and after the decline in silver mining, the tide turned on its fortunes. Today, it remains a vestige of the glorious past. The prosperity of the Middle Ages led to the establishment of several buildings, built mostly in Gothic style, which are of architectural significance. Some buildings like the St. Barbara’s Church were built over long periods, which meant that apart from the Gothic style, other styles like Baroque were also used.
Yet, the most unique building in the city is known for its interiors – The Kutna Hora Bone Church or the Sedlec Ossuary, with sculptures built from bones of over 40,000 people! To go from Prague to Kutna Hora is to embark on a peaceful getaway from the buzz of the city. You can explore the picturesque Kutná Hora at your own pace, and admire the beauty as you walk around this charming city.
Half Day Tour of Kutna Hora
- Visit the iconic St. Barbara's Cathedral, and see the vaulted ceilings
- Explore the many frescoes that depict life and religion
- Head to the Sedlec Ossuary or "Bone Church", made of the bones of over 40,000 people
- Explore the Stone Fountain on Rejsek Square, originally used to store water
Is a Day Trip Enough?
A day trip from Prague to Kutna Hora is ideal to explore the mining town and its history as one of Europe’s richest towns in the medieval ages. Situated about 80 km away from Prague, it takes about an hour and half to reach the city of Kutná Hora. The city is spread just over 33 sq.km and all the important attractions are within short distances from each other, making it convenient to visit them all in a day’s time.
The city’s main attractions are the two UNESCO sites that put Kutná Hora on the tourist map – St. Barbara’s Church and the Cathedral of our Lady at Sedlec. The famous Kutna Hora Bone Church or the Sedlec Ossuary is just a stone’s throw away from the Cathedral.
After the churches, you can visit the Italian Court and the Czech Silver Museum, which will take you about 3 hours to completely explore. A walk down the main square will lead you to the famous Stone Fountain. If you are on a quick schedule you can undertake a half-day trip to Kutná Hora , and you will still be able to witness all the major sights in the city.
What to See in Kutná Hora
Sedlec Ossuary is what draws the crowds to Kutna Hora. Seemingly macabre, the ‘Kutna Hora Bone Church’ does not have a sinister history as expected. More than 800 years ago, the King of Bohemia had sent the abbot of Sedlec Monastery to Jerusalem, who brought back a handful of holy soil and spread it across the cemetery. The word spread and people came from far and near to buried at Sedlec upon their death.
Pretty soon, a chapel was built near the cemetery and the bones of more than 40,000 people were held in the ossuary below the church. But in 1870 Frantisek Rint, a woodcarver, did the unthinkable and arranged these bones in artistic forms. Today, visitors can see his art in the form of bone sculptures and even a bone chandelier which uses every bone in the human skeleton! Some see it as art, others find it symbolic of transience of life on earth, but whatever it may be, it is a sight to behold.
This is why we all go there. It's not big and you'll be out shortly, but it unlike anything you'll ever see.
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St. Barbara's Church
The tall spires of the St. Barbara’s Church are visible even before you enter Kutná Hora. The magnificent church standing atop a cliff is a remnant of the glorious past of the mining town. The construction of the church began in the 1300s only to finish in 1905, taking nearly 600 years. Braving centuries of war and economic upheaval, the church built in the Gothic and Baroque style is one of the best churches in Czech Republic, rivalling even the St. Vitus Cathedral!
St. Barbara is the patron saint of miners and is included in the frescoes and paintings inside the church. The interiors of the church are as stunning as the intricate exterior, with stained glass paintings and ceiling murals depicting the mining industry as well the miner’s guild coat of arms.
Prepare yourself for a sensory overload! Absolutely stunning place with centuries of history. Spend a few hours here easily walking around all the artifacts and googling at the amazing stain glass windows. One of the most beautiful churches in the world. Just breathtaking at every point.keep an eye out for the most amazing pensive and treasured paintings in the building, they are a site to see. Stunning!!!
Afterwards you can walk the grounds and town site to visit the chocolate museum around the corner, the roof top terrace at the Cathedral or walk the border gardens. Gifts available in the church admin area at reasonable prices.
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Environmental issues plagued the town even back in the 15th century; the silver mining industry impacted the ground water sources and caused a crisis, which is when the 12 sided Stone Fountain was built in the central square of the city. The striking structure was made in Gothic style and originally had a roof as well. It was used as a water reservoir for the water drawn by wooden pipes, from the spring of St. Adalbert almost 2.5 kilometres away.
The stone fountain was used as a water source until 1890. Today, it is a protected monument and is beautifully lit up in the night accentuating the beautiful stone work.
Great structure. If you walk around the historic district you will come across this. Built at the end of the 15th century, it stored clean water for the town.
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Czech Silver Museum
A journey to Kutna Hora is incomplete without an insight into its past as a mining city. The Czech Silver Museum was started in 1996 to commemorate the rich history of the city. It is housed in the historic Hradek (“Little Castle”) building, which was built as a wooden palace in the 13th century. The museum has two tour routes – The Town of Silver and The Journey of Silver.
The Town of silver showcases the life and history of Kutna Hora before and after the ‘silver rush’, when huge silver mines were discovered under the city. It harks back to the times of Bohemian nobility and narrates how the wealth transformed the city. The Journey of Silver takes visitors through the process of silver making from ore to coins. There are old exhibits of the mining industry and even a 250m long medieval mine.
This entire town built on a mine, if coins and ancient currency is your thing this is amazing, it also houses a bible and a choir book from the 1500's, the building itself is an artwork
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The Italian Court was the Central Mint in the Middle Ages, and was established by King Wenceslas II. It was named so after the Florentine bankers who were summoned to supervise the working of the mint. The king also undertook a monetary reform which closed down the mints across the state. High quality Silver Prague Groschen coins would be dispensed from the central mint and it would go on to become Europe’s strongest currency at the time.
Today, the Italian Court is a vast neo-Gothic complex and is used as a museum and the city hall. It has two tour routes – The Royal Palace and The Royal Mint. The royal chapel inside the court is quite spectacular and you shouldn’t miss the demonstration of coin making at the mint!
Should you visit it during your stay in Kutná Hora. This place has great history. Nice to see also inside.
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- Kutna Hora is a peaceful city and the historical town is perfect for walking with its cobbled streets. Get a good pair of shoes and take some time to just walk around the square which is also a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- The important attractions of the city are churches and places of worship. Ensure you wear appropriate clothing that covers your knees and shoulders.
- You can enter the Italian court only by Guided Tour.
- If you are running short on time, pick the Journey of Silver tour at the Czech Silver Museum. Both the tours are about an hour, but with the Journey of Silver tour, you get to go inside the mines!
Other Day Trips From Prague
Prague to Český Krumlov
Český Krumlov, just 170 km from Prague, is an ideal getaway destination. The medieval Český Krumlov Castle, after which the town is named, is the second largest in the Czech Republic. With its red-roof tiles and the Vltava River, the town forms a pretty picture. The town features Gothic, Baroque, and Renaissance architecture, and walking through its quaint lanes is a wonderful experience. The castle is spectacular and has many beautiful attractions, including the unique Cloak Bridge, the courtyards and the gardens. The views of the town from the garden are unmissable! Read more about a Prague To Cesky Krumlov day trip here.
• Full Day Guided Visit to Cesky Krumlov
Prague to Karlštejn Castle
Karlštejn Castle looks like it’s straight out of a fairytale! The white and grey castle stands forbidding amidst the sea of lush green forests. A mere 30 km from Prague, the Karlštejn Castle is the perfect destination for a peek into the Bohemian Kingdom. Built in the 14th century, the castle was the Royal Treasury, and housed the Imperial Crown and other treasures. The Castle holds one of the largest collections of Gothic Art within its Chapel, which is the centrepiece of the complex. Rising up on the hill, the unique architecture of the Karlštejn Castle will leave you mesmerised. Read more about the Karlštejn Castle here.
• Guided tour of Karlštejn Castle with Lunch
Prague to Karlovy Vary
Join the ranks of many celebrities who have visited Karlovy Vary, a charming spa town. Known for its hot springs, the town has over 300 springs with medicinal and healing qualities. You can also visit the 12 meter high geyser, Vridlo, which is the source of the town’s thermal water. Take a walk down the picturesque town with colourful buildings, and rejuvenate yourself at the many spas in town. Pay a visit to the Moser factory where you can watch stunning glassworks being created right in front of you. Just 130 km away from Prague, this is where you head for some well-deserved R&R! Read more about a Prague To Karlovy Vary day trip here.
• Full Day Tour of Karlovy Vary with Access to Moser Glassworks factory