KutnáHora: Historical Town Centre with the Church of St Barbara and the Cathedral of Our Lady at Sedlec
KutnáHora: Historical Town Centre With The Church Of St Barbara And The Cathedral Of Our Lady At Sedlec
Cultural Czechia Europe And North America City And District Of KutnáHora, Central Bohemian Region

KutnáHora was one of the most important political and economic centres of Bohemia in the 14th and 15th centuries. Its medieval centre and the churches are outstanding examples of architectural development and testify to the cultural vivacity of the area.

The town is built above the steep descent of the Vrchlice Creek, in the Kutna Hora plateau, 254 m above sea level and some 60 km east of Prague, developed as a result of the exploitation of the silver mines. The prosperity of KutnáHora silver mines reached its climax in the 14th and 15th centuries when the city became one of the richest places in Europe. In July 1300, based on the rich silver strikes in the area, King Václav II implemented a currency reform with the participation of Italian financiers. All existing mints in the Czech nation went out of operation, and in the central mint at Vlašskýdvur the first Prague groschen were struck. KutnáHora thus became the country's most important economic centre, and at the same time it was being transformed into a royal town, with all the rights and privileges to be confirmed later by King Jan Lucemburskýand King Charles IV.

The town became the cultural, political and economic centre of Bohemia, competing for importance, even with Prague. In the 14th century it became a royal city endowed with monuments that symbolized its prosperity. The end of the 15th century brought this burgeoning town an unusual construction development. Work was begun on a new town hall, a Stone House and some majestic patrician houses. At the beginning of the 16th century, the mines in the city centre were gradually exhausted and abandoned, with mining continuing primarily at Kanek.

The historical centre is an architectural jewel of European significance: Vlašskýdvur, St Barbara's Cathedral, the Church of St James, the Stone House and the Gothic fountain are some of the most precious landmarks in Bohemia. Other man-made landmarks are located in nearby Sedlec and Malin.

The interior of the Church of St Barbara, a jewel of the late Gothic period, is decorated with medieval frescoes depicting the secular life of the medieval mining town of KutnáHora. The Cathedral of the Holy Virgin Barbara was built in the late 14th century and during the 15th to the first half of the 16th centuries. It originated in spite of the until then most influential authority controlling the development of the town - the Sedlec Cistercian monastery. It was an expression of the importance and power of the upper town, formed from the Seventies of the 13th century by mining communities.

The cathedral symbolizes the self-esteem and exceptional ambitions and possibilities of the Kutna Hora patricians, who in view of their wealth enjoyed the favour of the Czech rulers. With royal aid they gained royal privileges and the possibility of contact with the most developed manifestations of European art at the time for their town. The first designer of the cathedral was John Parler, who designed the building with a gallery round the presbytery. Originally the cathedral was to have been triple-aisled and longer;however, it was soon changed into a five-aisled building. Other outstanding architects were Matyas Rejsek, who worked at KutnáHora from 1489 until his death in 1506, and Benedikt Rejt, who died in 1534. In 1558 the cathedral was completed with the construction of the facade and three tent roofs. By that time the silver mines were virtually exhausted and means for the further furnishing and maintenance of the cathedral were lacking.

In 1626 the Jesuits arrived in the town and placed the cathedral under their administration. They began to carry out building modifications. They also changed the environs of the cathedral and, from the 1660s, began to build their college in its close vicinity. In 1905 the cathedral was newly consecrated. The Cathedral of Our Lady at Sedlec, which was restored in line with the Baroque taste of the early 18th century, was to influence the architecture of central Europe.