Visiting Kutná Hora in the Czeck Republic With a Dog
“Bone Church” — THAT was pretty much all the bipeds had to say to make me agree 100% with the idea of going to Kutná Hora. Plus it’s not like it was that far from Prague, our home base in the Czech Republic. So we hopped on a train and set out.
Luckily, we encountered a helpful ticket master who told us that the little train that you could normally take from the main train station in Kutná Hora to the city’s old centre was not working. We would need to walk or take a public bus. This wasn’t good news since our ticket included the extra leg, but the ticket master assured us that the bus would honour it. Then he was kind enough to tell us that the Church of Bones, was in walking distance of the train station. The old centre, with its Gothic cathedral and more, on the other hand, well, that would easily be a 50-minute walk.
The bipeds were a little bummed. We love to walk! This was the first time that we had visited a small town with a train station so very far from the town’s centre. But no matter! We figured we’d start with what was in walking distance and take it from there. A quick stop at the little tourist office at the Kutná Hora train station armed us with a pretty darn good map. It showed the distances well so we had a clear idea of what to expect.
Cathedral of the Assumption
We figured we would start with a quick peak at the lesser visited Cathedral of the Assumption of Our Lady and Saint John the Baptist. (Seriously? They really need to get shorter names!) The church is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, after all. But its “big sister,” the cathedral down in the old centre, totally eclipses Our Lady. But it’s totally worth a stop none the less.
And then, much to my THRILL, we crossed the street and went up a super cute little road to find the Church of Bones — or the Sedlec Ossuary, as it is correctly called. But, total TOTAL bummer for me awaited. No dogs inside! Whaaaaaaaaat? But … but …but … .
I was not even allowed in the cemetery around the small church! So, the bipeds did what they always do in these situations: they did the “doggy hand-off.” Finding a really sweet little coffee shop and corner store just across the street, Mom visited the church first while Dad ordered a coffee. Mom paid for her ticket, went in, and grabbed the information sheet. These were really well done and free, so DO pick one up!
The “Bone Church” is rather unassuming from the outside, to be honest. So I am doubly disappointed that I did not get to stare in awe at the chandeliers comprising of at least one of every bone in the human body, or the pyramids of skulls and delicately crafted shields of arms made of … yes, you guessed it, arm bones!
… And wow, creepy coat of arms!
Mom was listening in on a tour guide and found out that the church is sinking. It’s literally crumbling to the ground or something like that. The whole church if off-centre now, causing all sorts of structural issues. The guide said that the church will likely be closed for a five-year restoration. “As of January — I think that is when they will close it,” the guide added.
Mom was thrilled that we were able to visit while the church was still open. As the guide pointed out, even though they plan to restore the church to exactly as it is now, with each bone carefully back in place, the centuries of dust and physical history will have been disturbed or washed away. It simply will not be the same.
Armed with that information, Mom went back to get Dad and let him have his go. He came back out shaking his head in disbelief at what he had seen. By now, I was right irritated at being kept out of the loop! But, life goes on. (sigh)
We headed toward the closest bus stop indicated on our map, where we waited. We don’t speak the local language and we had no idea what bus to take. so we asked by pointing at the old centre on our map and showing our train ticket until one driver just waved us to the back of the bus. Okay then!
Old Town of Kutná Hora
To our surprise, the bus dropped us off at the old town train station, which was not working. This is the train station that would have connected to the main station. I found this odd because the old town train station is not actually right in the old centre! I mean, if you’re going to replace a non-functioning train station with a bus, why not take advantage of the change and drop people off in the old town square? But, the signs were pretty good and we had our map, so we just went with the flow.
Following our map closely, we found our way to the most romantic alley Kutná Hora has to offer: Ruthardska Street. It’s absolutely delightful as it winds its way along the former town wall.
This led us straight to the Italian Court (#5 on the map) and the Church of Saint James (#6). The Italian Court was home to the royal mint and to the king when he visited Kutná Hora. The town hall was relocated to the palace in the 18th century, and today, it houses a museum of coin minting, featuring exhibits about the silver that made Kutná Hora famous.
We learned that silver played such a huge part in the town’s prosperity that from the 13th to the 18th centuries, Kutná Hora (then called Kuttenberg) was the second most important town in Bohemia after Prague. That is no small thing! The town’s wealth funded many of the beautiful buildings we’d see on our visit. In fact, there is so much beauty in the town’s architecture that in 1995, the historic centre of Kutná Hora, in its entirety, was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The Church of Saint James Church was built in the 17th century. It was known back in its heyday as “the tall church” for its 80-metre-tall height. It’s worth popping in for a quick look. No dogs allowed inside though, so a hand off will be needed.
Next on our walk, was THE silver museum (#7). Yes, there are many. This one — the Czech Museum of Silver — wasn’t always a museum. It was, in fact, just part of the fortifications in the 13th century. It was later converted into a palace of sorts and then finally found its purpose as the primary museum of the silver that put Kutná Hora on the map. There are two tours. Tour 1 is about the town and its link to silver. Tour 2 is a more detailed look at the way silver was mined and what properties it had, and more. Dogs are not welcome so we skipped this part.
Still making our way to the cathedral, we came upon one of the town’s most picturesque spots: the Jesuit College (#10) and the Chapel of Corpus Christi (#8). The college is an impressive three-story Baroque building with transverse wings in the shape of a reverse F. Built in 1667, it’s the Czech Republic’s second largest gallery for visual arts of the 20th and 21st centuries. Art of that era is not really our thing, so we skipped the tour. As for the chapel, it’s a simple, unassuming little thing, quite overshadowed by the cathedral. It’s Gothic by the looks of it, and it is my understanding that it was originally an ossuary, much like the Church of Bones.
Finally, we arrived at the most impressive Cathedral of St. Barbara (#9). It really is beautiful. Started in the 14th century, the cathedral is particularly delicate in its form. I found it had a certain lightness to its buttresses that reminded me to some degree – although even lighter – of the buttresses of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.
We walked around the gardens and I ran about off-leash. No one minded, and I played with another dog that happened to also be visiting from out of town. My favourite part was walking the length of the wall that separates the cathedral from the bike path that leads to the woods. I just had so much fun running up and down, listening to Mom and Dad laugh at my enthusiasm for having my own “highway.”
Heading back toward the centre of town, where we knew we would want to stop for a bite to eat (I heard other tummies besides my own rumbling), we went left rather than right, where we had come from. From here, we found the Stone Fountain (#11). Late Gothic in style, it’s an example of the town’s early water distribution system. A plaque says the fountain was completed in 1495 by Master Brikci.
By this point, we needed to speed up a little. There is a fine line where Dad goes from hungry to “hangry” and we didn’t want to risk crossing that line. So we walked quickly past the pretty Church of St. John of Nepomuk (#12).
But we did pop our heads in at the Stone House(#13). It was on Mom’s “must-see list” so we HAD to go inside. Turns out the museum is totally small dog friendly! How cool is that! It’s a gorgeous burgher’s house – inside and out. Of course, the tour focuses mostly on silver, as do nearly all museum tours in Kutná Hora. You have two choices: Tour 1 is about the town, its silver and how it attracted the royal houses to settle there. The tour also goes into the life of the people in the 17th to 19th centuries. Tour 2 is a nice shift, focussing more on the stonemasons and their art during the medieval era of the town. That tour is well worth considering, especially if you’ve already done a tour on the silver.
By now, hangry was settling in over Dad like a grey cloud. So we quickly walked past the Plague Column, properly known as the Column of the Virgin Mary Immaculate in memoriam of the thousands who died in the plague of 1713 (#14), and made our way to the Sankturin House (#4) where Mom and I visited the tourist information desk to figure out a way to efficiently get back to the train station. Dad went and scouted out a place for a bite to eat on the main square of the old town that the Sankturin House overlooks.
And so we settled down for a lovely meal. An enormous salad each for the bipeds and some chicken strips for me. We sat in the sun on a very warm afternoon, enjoying the quiet and sleepy vibe the town was giving off this late in the season (mid-September). I was allowed on the patio – or even indoors; they didn’t seem to care much.
After our meals, we crossed the street and grabbed a cab. It was so inexpensive, we realized that if you are more than one person, a cab is really the easiest way to travel the distance between the train station and the old centre. We made a mental note of this in case there was a next time. Our driver was fun, bright, and full of laughter. He asked all sorts of questions about me and how I travel, before dropping us off at the little train station.
As we waited for the train back to Prague, we looked at the photos we had taken on our devices and agreed we would go back and spend another day if time permitted. We’d love to take the long Royal Walk that follows the little river below the city and connects to a 30-kilometre bike trail through the local forests. Or hey, there is a wine bike trail too! We’d be curious to see if I’d be allowed in to visit the Museum of LEGO Building Blocks or get in my sling bag and join the bipeds for the toboggan run (The Luge)! All in all, my guess is that we may have seen the highlights but there is so very much more of Kutná Hora to discover.
In review: Kutná Hora is much more than the bone chapel! Thanks to the town’s prosperous silver mines, Kutná Hora became the second most decadent city in the Bohemian kingdom in the Middle Ages, flourishing and rivalling Prague economically, culturally, and politically. Eventually, the silver dried up and the town was ravaged by two holy wars, but what was left behind will still wow you, Dear Reader. Visiting Kutná Hora in the Czeck Republic with a dog… well just go! It’s pretty pet-friendly and absolutely worth it. For more pics visit our FB page!