After spending two days exploring the sites of Prague, I decided to take a short day trip out to Kutna Hora, about 70 km east of the city. I had heard about the small town from my housemate, who told me about the ‘bone church’ that was apparently famous there. After doing some brief (and probably inadequate) research about the place, I decided it seemed like a fun idea, and took the train there with a friend.
After we got off the train we went into the small tourist office to buy a map of the area, and were met by a friendly woman who gave us instructions on how to get there. It was a bit confusing, however, and even with our map we found that we were more or less lost. Thankfully, there were a number of street signs that helped guide us, and we got to the bone church after ten or fifteen minutes of walking.
When we first saw the church we were a bit apprehensive—it looked very small, and not like anything particularly interesting. We entered anyway, and were already surprised by the artistry of the interior. At the desk we paid for a combination ticket to several different sites—the bone church, another nearby church, a cathedral, and a Jesuit college, which later turned out to be an art gallery. The ticket was reasonably priced—190 czk for students, or about $8.50. We were given a small sheet of paper that explained the history of the church, then allowed to enter. I would describe the interior, but I think photos do it more justice than words:
After the church, we decided we’d walk to the center of town instead of taking the bus. The walk was only 2km, and was easy to navigate and well-marked. The town itself felt a bit weird; obviously it was very residential, but it still felt like it was unoccupied. It looked a bit like the ‘It’s a Small World’ exhibit at Disneyworld, with fake buildings that didn’t really seem like they served a purpose. We got lunch at a restaurant just off one of the main squares, then continued on our tour.
Although we had the worst map maybe ever, we managed (with much confusion and awkward circling) to find the cathedral. The building itself is impressive; tall, foreboding, and symmetrical. The interior was simply decorated but very beautiful, with some frescos on the walls that dated back to the 1400s and earlier. Like most other churches in Prague, it was at least 20 degrees (Fahrenheit) colder than the air outside, which made it difficult to spend too much time in there.
The final stop on our tour was the Jesuit college, which had no signage indicating that that was what the building was called. Apparently the building is now used as a contemporary art museum, and our tickets included access to one of these exhibits. The atmosphere here was uncomfortable, as a woman followed us around at a slight distance for the entire exhibit. The art, too, was offputting; most pieces were violent or grotesque, although some were fairly classic and pleasant to look at. I didn’t take many pictures here, even though photography was allowed, because the curator was making me feel awkward and I kind of wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible. The one upside to this museum was the brilliant reading/resting area, which was beautifully decorated with mirrors, lights, and vine plants, and looked like a nice place to relax.
We spent the last half hour or so just walking around, trying to retrace our steps and find the train station. The cathedral and Jesuit college overlooked an amazing view of the area, so we took a few pictures before heading down to the station. We got the express train back to the hostel—which I would highly recommend as opposed to the slower train that we accidentally booked in the morning, which took about twice as long and had many more stops. All in all we enjoyed a very pleasant, though baffling and unusual, day out in Kutna Hora, and I would highly recommend a visit to anyone whose keen on escaping Prague for an afternoon.