Kutna Hora is a small city about one hour by train away from Prague. People come to Kutna Hora to see the Sedlec Ossuary (or the bone church, the bone chapel, kostnice: it is known by many names) and there is no argument here: I went there for the same reason. And many of travellers come to visit it only: the majority of people go back to the train station after seeing the bone church. But there are other things to do in Kutna Hora, and, in my opinion, they are much more beautiful and notable. And, if you are already taking a day trip to Kutna Hora, why not to see all of them?
But before you start exploring the city, there are some things you should know.
How to get to Kutna Hora from Prague by train (including the map)
Or, better to say, how I got to Kutna Hora from Prague. I must say, it was quite an adventure.
I searched for ways to get to Kutna Hora, and in many cases it was advised to take the train there. I have read somewhere that there are buses departing from Haje bus station (end of red subway line C, and I have no idea what company operates the route), and Regiojet buses from Florenc, but I checked their website, and they don’t go there. Finally, I settled with the thought of taking the train. When I tried to buy the tickets online on my phone, only the first page was in English, the rest was in Czech that I do not understand. I gave up and went to the train station hoping someone can explain me how to get there.
But before I proceed, there is something you should know. Basically, one can say that there are three train stations in Kutna Hora:
– the first one is the main train station, or Kutna Hora hlavni nadrazi (or Kutna Hora hl. n. – the short version). It is about 1,3 km away from the Ossuary (Bone Church) and almost 4 km away from the city center. Trains from Prague come to this station only!
– the second one is Kutna Hora Sedlec. This one is about 600 meters away from the Ossuary, making it the closest to the Bone Church.
– the third one is Kutna Hora mesto, or Kutna Hora town station. This one is the closest to the city center.
– Here you have to know that there is a local train that runs between the main train station of Kutna Hora, Kutna Hora Sedlec and Kutna Hora Sedlec.
Now, how it works and what to pay attention to:
– I am sure you do not want to switch trains in an unknown station where nobody speaks English or Russian, so make sure you buy a ticket to a train that goes directly to Kutna Hora (there are some trains with transfer in Kolin)! You can see it on the railway website whether it is a direct train or not.
– Buy a return ticket as well, it will be much easier.
– Tickets are validated by an attendant on board shortly after train departs.
– If you check the railway website, you can see that you can book tickets to either Kutna Hora Sedlec or Kutna Hora Mesto, but it is not a direct train! Just like I said before, the trains from Prague go to the main station only, and you will have to change to the local train there. So, when you buy a ticket from Prague to Kutna Hora mesto, the train will take you to Kutna Hora main station, and from here, using the same ticket you bought in Prague, you will take the local train going into the city.
Now to what happened to me. I read some info about trains, and it said almost everywhere to buy ticket for Kutna Hora Sedlec. So, when I came to the train station in Prague to buy my ticket this is what I asked for. Again, some things to know:
– not all of people behind the desk speak good English. It is, probably, just enough to understand where you want to go and how many people.
– not all of them like to be asked questions, and they are very bad at answering them.
– I did not see a single information desk where I could I ask my questions.
So, when I asked for tickets to Sedlec, she said that she couldn’t sell them (I do not know why), so after some thinking and having no idea about all these stations’ subtleties, I bought a two-way ticket from Prague to Kutna Hora mesto. She gave me the ticket with no time on it or a seat number. There was no mention that it is a two-way ticket, only that it is valid till next day. She said it is an open ticket and I can take any train I want. Yeah, like I knew which one of them was direct! Frankly, seeing her ‘polite’ attitude I did not want to ask her any questions more. I checked the electronic display, but there was no mention of any train stopping at Kutna Hora. Luckily, there was Wi-Fi available in some areas, so I went to the railway website and checked the number of the train and found it on the display. Apparently, Kutna Hora is not a that important stop as to show it on the display.
After that everything was ok 🙂 The ride takes about one hour. My ticket was till Kutna Hora mesto, but I got off at the main train station and went to the Ossuary on foot: it is about one kilometer, after all. On the way back to Prague I was in the city center already, so I went to Kutna Hora mesto station and took the local train to the main station still with the same ticket. And I used the same ticket on Kutna Hora – Prague train without any problems or questions.
In the end, an open ticket turned to be an excellent option. I screenshotted the departure times of direct trains to Prague and came to Kutna Hora hlavni nadrazi right in time 🙂 My train departed to Prague from the main station at 16:59. If you check the schedule online, you will see that it says you have take 16:44 train from Kutna Hora mesto, and then you will have about 5 minutes to switch to your train. Let me say, it is absolutely doable as the stations in Kutna Hora are very small. But if you buy an open ticket, it does not mean you have to take exactly the 16:44 train. I was afraid I would be late, so I took the one at 16:17.
Things to do in Kutna Hora
The story of the bone chapel started about 700 years ago, when an abbot brought a handful of earth from the Holy Land and threw it around the cemetery, which made it a desirable place to be buried. When there was no place left, some bones were moved to the crypt below the church. It was Frantisek Rint who arranged in the 19th century 40,000 skeletons into chandeliers and pyramids.
Personally, I found it creepy. The only thought that kept following me while I was walking around the church: “I hope nobody does anything like this to my bones”. A guy on a bus told me that I needed to go to a small chapel above the bone church because the contrast between the dark ossuary and the sunlit chapel will make me understand the meaning of these. Well, it didn’t 🙂
The cost: 90 Czech Crowns. Discounts are available for children, students and seniors.
Cathedral of Assumption of Our Lady and St. John the Baptist
This is a very long name: the church is better known as the Cathedral of Our Lady. I am glad that I did not miss it: I had no idea it was something interesting. This is what happens when you don’t do your research 🙂
After the dark and gloomy bone chapel this light, bright and airy cathedral was like a gift 🙂 Just like many other notable buildings in Kutna Hora, it is very old: it was built in the beginning of the 14th century. The wars did not spare it and it was burnt down. In the beginning of the 18th century the cathedral was renovated in the Baroque Gothic style. It is splendid indeed, and while you are wandering around its columns, don’t forget to go to the upper floor to see it from above.
The cost: 50 Czech Crowns.
How to save: if you come to Kutna Hora and intend to visit the Cathedral of Our Lady, you will definitely visit the bone church as well. There is a combined ticket for both these sites for 120 Czech Crowns and it will save you 20 Czech Crowns.
St Barbara’s Church
I guess the main question is how to get to St Barbara’s Church, considering that it is about 3 kilometers away from the Sedlec Ossuary. If you bought the train ticket to Kutna Hora mesto, then you can go back to the train station and take the local train to the city. If not, you can take the bus F01 from the Cathedral of Our Lady (see the map above, I marked yellow the bus stops): go to the tourist information point for any help. The bus ticket costs 12 Czech Crowns, you pay it directly to the driver, but keep in mind that the bus does not go directly to the church: you will have to get off at Centrum stop on Na Valech Street.
Now, about the church itself: it is fantastically beautiful with amazing frescoes, stained-glass windows, intricate details of the altarpiece and organ. And while I am talking about the organ: I am sure all of us are amazed by figurines on organs: do you want to see how they look from behind?
I remember that I thought it was strange that the main cathedral of the city was dedicated to St Barbara, not to St Mary or Christ. The thing is that St Barbara is the patron saint of miners, and considering that Kutna Hora is famous for its silver mines, it is quite logical.
PS: Did you know that this church is a UNESCO world heritage site?
The cost: 120 Czech Crowns. Discounts are available for children, students and seniors.
How to save: there is a combined ticket for the three places I mention above: the Sedlec Ossuary, the Cathedral of Our Lady and St. Barbara Church. The cost is 220 Czech Crowns and it will save you 40 Czech Crowns.
Corpus Christi Chapel
Frankly, I am not sure it is worth a visit, it is just an empty arched vault. Originally, it was to be a two-floored building where the lower part was to serve as an ossuary. The Jesuits used it as oratory, but later it was turned to private hands. After being used for different purposes, it was almost destroyed, and at the end of the last century it was reconstructed.
The cost: 10 Czech Crowns. If you buy the 220 Czech Crowns combined ticket, the entry to the chapel is free.
Ruthardska Lane is a narrow street that runs along the old city walls. A wealthy family of Ruthards lived there, hence the name.
While it is a nice street, there is nothing special about it, but you will most likely pass it anyway on your way from St Barbara’s Church to the Church of Saint James. The lane is promoted as something romantic: I guess I am really far from being romantic as I did not see or feel anything like it 🙂 Maybe, it has a special charm at night 🙂
Church of Saint James and the viewpoint
Frankly, I cannot tell much about it except the fact that this almost 700 years old church clearly dominates the city line of Kutna Hora when you look at it from St Barbara’s Church. I know that it is open to visitors, but when I was there it was closed and I did not see any info on its schedule. I found its opening times here, but I understand there are exceptions as I was at the church at the time it should have been open.
What I know for sure is that you can get a nice view of St Barbara Church and the Jesuit College from there.
The Three Kings House
Well, this house is far from being mandatory when it comes to things to do in Kutna Hora, but if you are nearby, just have a look at this house with the painting of three kings: Wenceslaus II, Vladislaus II and Wenceslaus IV.
Things to do in Kutna Hora: places I did not visit
I did not go to these places, mainly because of the lack of time, and I present them just as an option, so take my recommendations with a grain of salt.
Art Gallery at the Jesuit College
I am not a fan of arts, especially of modern art, so I skipped this place. It is next to the St Barbara’s Church and you will definitely pass the imposing building on your way.
PS: don’t forget to have a look at the vineyards in front of the Jesuit College and the fantastic statues.
Museum of Silver
I really regret that I did not go to this museum. The reason is that I simply did not have time for it: the visit is split into two tours that last for more than 2 hours and I wanted to do both of them. I advise to come earlier to Kutna Hora in general and, probably, go to this museum first and then to St Barbara’s Church.
As the name suggests it, this museum is dedicated to silver, its history and geology. But the most interesting part is the silver mine that is open to visits. More information on prices and opening times can be found on the official site.
What to pay attention to: I did not see anyone at the museum to ask it, but I saw everywhere that you should book your visit in advance. Frankly, I am not sure whether it refers to group visits or individual ones, so you better call/write them and ask.
This is a nice park below St Barbara’s Church: if you have much time and the day is hot, you may go down and rest your feet.
This is an ancient site with stones put in circles. It is quite far from the other sites of Kutna Hora, so you may attempt visiting it if you have more time in the city.
Where to eat: restaurants in Kutna Hora
I had lunch at Kometa Restaurant: it is very central, you will see it on your way to St Barbara’s Church. I decided it was the right time to try the famous Czech sausages so this is what I ordered. I expected them to be deep-fried, like the ones I saw in Prague, but they were different. They were delicious and came with a generous addition of potatoes: it was a hearty meal!
If you think that this place is too touristy because it is so close to the sights, take a look at these restaurants that serve traditional cuisine:
Other info useful for a day trip to Kutna Hora
– There is a tourist information center not far from the Ossuary. Just go in and ask your questions and get a map.
– There is a toilet not far from the ossuary and one at the train station: the price is 5 Czech Crowns.