Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The town of Kutná Hora owes its origin to the silver mines, the existence of which can be traced back to the first part of the 13th century. The city developed with great rapidity, and at the outbreak of the Hussite Wars, early in the 15th century, was next to Prague the most important in Bohemia, having become the favourite residence of several of the Czech kings. It was here that, on January 18, 1419, Wenceslaus IV signed the famous decree of Kutná Hora, by which the Czech nation was given three votes in the elections to the faculty of Prague University as against one for the three other "nations" (more details).
In 1420 the emperor Sigismund made the city the base for his unsuccessful attack on the Taborites; Kutná Hora was taken by Jan Žižka, and after a temporary reconciliation of the warring parties was burned by the imperial troops in 1422, to prevent its falling again into the hands of the Taborites. Žižka none the less took the place, and under Bohemian auspices it awoke to a new period of prosperity. In 1541 the richest mine was hopelessly flooded; in the insurrection of Bohemia against Ferdinand I the city lost all its privileges; repeated visitations of the plague and the horrors of the Thirty Years' War completed its ruin. Half-hearted attempts after the peace to repair the ruined mines failed; the town became impoverished, and in 1770 was devastated by fire. The mines were abandoned at the end of the 18th century.
Amongst its most important buildings are the Gothic five-naved Church of St. Barbara , begun in 1368, and the Cathedral of our Lady at Sedlec , which are also among the World Heritage Sites. The Italian Court, formerly a royal residence and mint, was built at the end of the 13th century, and the Gothic Stone Haus, which since 1902 serves as museum, contains one of the richest archives in the Republic.
There is also the famous Sedlec ossuary (kostnice in Czech) in one of the city's suburbs.
The ossuary is a little church that looks ordinary from the outside. But inside, the bones of 40,000 people decorate the walls and ceilings. Fourteenth-century plagues and 15th-century wars provided all the raw material necessary for monks to vent their creative spirit. The monks who first stacked these bones 400 years ago wanted viewers to remember that the earthly church is a community of both the living and the dead — a countless multitude that will one day stand before God. Later bone-stackers were more into design than theology — a chandelier includes every bone in the human body.
Kutná Hora today
Since 1995 city center become a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- www.kutnahora.info - Website of the region
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