Thursday, July 27, 2006

Kutna Hora

I went on another adventure with our tour guide Milos. Why? Because he says things like this: "this is a very beautiful area of Bohemia where many rich Czechs have their second homes. Oscar our bus driver has inherited not a regular house, but a cottage and many famous artists that you wouldn't know like the Czech equivalent of Elvis Presley, unfortunately, he's not very talented."

We started our tour of Kutna Hora at St. Barbara's cathedral (photos of this and more). This unique building has a roof like a sultan's tent, and was built by the same architect who built the Powder Tower in Prague, which according to Milos was built to face Kutna Hora. We weren't allowed to take photographs inside the cathedral, but I'll say that there is an interesting mixture of the sacred and the secular in the frescoes, which combine both working miners and crucifixes. Kutna Hora is a mining town, and the cathedral was designed with these workers in mind. There's also a statute of a miner in a prominent place.

It was inside this cathedral, that Milos told us the most interesting fact that I've learned on this trip. We were standing in front of the confessionals and he said that during the Communist Era (error) secret police would impersonate priests and allow parishioners to confess their sins to them. Then a few days later the police would come to arrest them. Milos claims that this is the reason that the Czech Republic has the highest rate of atheists in all of Europe, about 90%. This claim deserves more research and I will see if I can dig up anything else on this topic.

We walked from the cathedral to a palace, where weddings take place on the weekends. I was a disgusting tourist and snapped a shot of the groom after the ceremony, because I thought the Czech custom of the groom wearing a yoke like an oxen was priceless.

The Sedlec Ossuary with its 40,000 human bones was what I was waiting for and it did not disappoint. The bones were found when the chapel was built in the 14th century. I understand that most of these people died from the plague and the Hussite wars and that a monk built these pyramids in the 15th century. Posted by Picasa

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