Much of the town center is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and filled with gently dilapidated Baroque buildings; start off your day in Kutná Hora at the Roman Catholic Cathedral, glimpse the exterior of St James’s Church with its mishmash of Baroque and Renaissance architecture and landmark 282-foot (86-m) tower, before touring the Italian Court, which started life as the Royal Mint to the kings of Bohemia and eventually became their palace, which has a small museum of coins.
On to the Gothic St Barbara’s Church – Barbara was the patron saint of silver miners – which is the city’s proud symbol, and although it was started in 1380 the building was only finally completed in 1905. The flamboyant high Gothic architecture, complete with bristling spires, eight chapels, and flying buttresses supporting the choir, reflects the wealth and power of the mining city; the interior is richly decorated with a series of Renaissance frescoes featuring mining and the minting of coins.
Afterwards take the 45-minute tour of the medieval mine shafts way below the present-day city at Hradek Castle, which also houses the Czech Museum of Silver.
But it is the ossuary at the monastery in Sedlec that really grabs attention in Kutná Hora; allow at least an hour for your visit and a 20-minute walk each way from the town center. The chapel is partly below ground, lit only by candlelight and entirely decorated and furnished with human bones. The candelabras, coats of arms, monstrances, pillars and wall decorations are all made of bone; skulls adorn dark corners of the chapel and leg bones hang in garlands from the vaulted ceiling. The remains of more than to 40,000 people have gone into the macabre but strangely beautiful decorations created here by woodcarver František Rint in the 19th century; the raw materials came from thousands of victims of the Black Death and the Hussite Wars in the 14th and 15th centuries.
Contributed by Sasha Heseltine