Even though you will not find any chateaus or castles in Kutná Hora
, in the time of its highest glory it was a centre of the kingdom’s economic and political power and the second most important city following Prague
. The secret recipe for its influence was hidden underground – in the wealth of the local silver mines. And it is indeed to silver mining that the city owes its reputation, its power and also its name – “Kutná” is a reference to the archaic Czech word “kutání”, which means “mining”. In the times of the city’s greatest glory, it was the source of one third of all silver in Europe.
© Ladislav Renner
Without the income from Kutná Hora’s silver, the Luxembourgs in 14th century could have hardly managed to build so many magnificent structures in Kutná Hora
as well as in the rest of the kingdom, including the reconstruction of the Prague Castle
Imagine yourself slowly walking through a 250 m long underground corridor, clad in a hooded miner’s garb. You pass flooded tunnels. One of your hands that holds the lantern is slightly trembling. This may give you an idea of how medieval miners must have felt in the mine when they had to rely on the light of the lantern, which could go out at any moment. But you are lucky. We are not living in the 13th century and you are not going to have to sweat though a long day of work in the mine today. Just rise to the surface again and you are back in the 21st century. Only partially, though – the romantic streets of the picturesque historic centre, with its irregular squares and civic houses, still radiate the medieval spirit.
Did you know that the Church of St. Barbara is the first cathedral in Europe which was paid for by the city’s inhabitants instead of by the church? According to legend, St. Barbara showed three miners the way out of the mine where they ended up imprisoned. Their relatives then had the church built and consecrated to her.