St. Barbara’s cathedral
St. Barbara’s is the most spectacular gothic cathedral in the Czech Republic, a land noted for its Gothic cathedrals. It’s difficult to appreciate the splendour of the cathedral from close up, and impossible to capture it in a photograph. The intricacy of the flying buttresses, the unique tent-like sailing spires, and the marvellous cliff-top setting combine to make a visit to the cathedral an awe-inspiring experience.
In the late 1300s St. Barbara’s was founded by the rich mine owners of Kutná Hora. in an attempt to further their religious independence from the Cistercian monastery at Sedlec and compete with the grandeur of Prague’s St. Vitus cathedral. The Hussite rebellion soon interrupted their plans, however, and construction work on the cathedral didn’t resume until 1482, when the mining industry recovered.
New techniques altered the plans for the construction, and the unique shape of the spires is a product of this late 15th to early 16th century burst of construction. Financial difficulties and the eventual demise of the mining industry brought another halt to the work and it wasn’t until 1884 that the city and local archeological society found the impetus and means to continue the construction, which was eventually completed in 1905.
St. Barbara is the patron saint of miners, and many of the interior adornments reflect mining life. Stained-glass windows and frescoes depict winches, ore-trading, and medieval minting techniques, and the ceiling murals include depictions of the miners’ guild coat of arms.
The magnificence of the soaring spires is most apparent from a distance. There is a good vantage point below Vlašský Dvůr/The Italian Court, but the best view that I have had was travelling to Kutná Hora on the bus from Tabor. The spires are visible for a long time before you see any other sign of the town, and the closer you get, the more impressive they become.
All churched out?
If you happen to be travelling with someone who feels like they’ve seen enough churches then St Barbara’s is the place to bring them. I bet you a drink at the Dačicky beerhall that their attitude improves.
St Barbara’s is open year round; May thru September from 9am to 6pm, and the rest of the year from 9am to 4.30pm. Be careful if visiting on a Monday though, because the cathedral will only open from 10am to 4.30pm and on winter Mondays (November thru March) it will be closed.
Admission is 40Kč for adults and 20Kč for children or students.
Chrám sv. Barbory
28401 Kutná Hora
Tel. 327 512115