Friday, Sep. 18, 2009

Kutna Hora

To immerse yourself in Bohemia's Gothic past, hop on a train bound for Kutna Hora, a well-preserved medieval town one hour east of Prague.

From the 14th to the 16th centuries, several kings resided there, making it the second most important city in the kingdom for a time. Exploiting vast silver mines, they endowed the town with splendid monuments like St. Barbara's Church, an architectural treasure with impressive double-arched flying buttresses. Fans of the macabre will however make straight for the Sedlec Ossuary, known locally as "the bone church." In 1870, a woodcarver used the bones of 40,000 people, many of whom died from the bubonic plague, to create unspeakably bizarre decorations and furnishings for the crypt. Skull-and-femur garlands line the walls, and a massive chandelier includes at least one of every bone in the human body.