A Visit to the Town of Kutná Hora: The Coiners of Medieval Europe

A Visit to the Town of Kutná Hora: The Coiners of Medieval Europe

Kutna Hora 1Kutná Hora (one hour train journey from Prague), a charming medieval town inscribed in the world heritage fund UNESCO, played a crucial role in the European monetary system. Since the Middle Ages, the silver “Prague groschen“ was a hard currency for several centuries. The “dollar” has as well an ancestor in the Bohemian lands, in the Renaissance silver mines in Joachimstal. Hence the name Joachimstaler and simplified Taler that spread through Holland and the Habsburg empire overseas. The mines in Kutna Hora formed an entire third of the European production of silver already since the 1200´s, creating the ecomonic dominance of the Bohemian kingdom in the midde ages. The 13th and 14th centuries local sovereigns ranged among the mightiest in the Europe. They called Kutná Hora the coiners from the cradle of banking, Florence.

Kutna Hora 2Quite naturally, the city became extremely self-confident. To show their outstanding position at the time when the relative power of Prague as the region’s first city was on the decline, the citizens hired a royal architect to realize a project of a cathedral that was originally supposed to stand at the Prague Castle. The result is a magnificent 15th century cathedral of St Barbara with a vaulting that seems floating in the space. The Cathedral of the Assumption at Sedlec and a cistercian monastery are equally worth attention of an architecture lover besides the historical city center. It is the biggest and the most challenging cathedral in the Bohemian lands from the late 1200´s showing the might of the politically active abbots. The cathedral was reconstructed about 1700 by the famous architect Santini in the fashion of baroque gothique in which he married these two seemingly irreconciliable styles. An ossuary, a spooky church made of human bones, is another fascinating and unusual site. The relatively small monument was decorated by a 19th century sculptor with bones of 50-70 thousand victims of a 14th century plague and of the Hussite wars on a command of the Schwarzenberg family in 1870.

Kutna Hora 3Last but not least, Jakub by Kutna Hora hides a treasure in a form of the greatest collection of Romanesque sculptures from the 1100´s in the lands of the Bohemian crown. In addition, there are several restaurants at Kutna Hora offering a traditional medieval menu. Depending on the interests, the narrow corridors of former silver mines winding deep under the ground can be explored as well. On the way back the Cesky Sternberk Castle looming on a rocky mountain above the romantic Sazava river can be visited. Its rooms are furnished in the original fashion to give you an insight into a daily life of this influential aristocratic family who still own the castle today. The castle regularly attracts film makers and so you may already have encountered in the impressive number of movies in which it has appeared.

The entire trip takes about 8.5 hours if Sternberk Castle is added, 7 hours for Kutna Hora alone.

Vadim ErentVadim Erent was born in St. Petersburg and immigrated to the USA at 13. He did graduate work in Slavic Studies at the University of Chicago, then spent a decade travelling through the United States as an interpreter for the US State Department. He has lived in Prague since 2003. An art critic and literary historian, he contributes articles to Litteraria Pragensia Books, the affiliated press of the Philosophy Faculty of Charles University. Vadim’s photography has been featured in Vlak Magazine, Grasp Magazine, The Humanities Review and Streetnotes. He is editor of a book of essays on Serbian filmmaker, Dušan Makavejev, published by Charles University in 2018. After years of giving tours of Prague to friends and family, he founded Insight Cities to offer in-depth experiences to a wider group of visitors. Vadim is married to Insight Cities co-founder Bonita Rhoads. They are the parents of a little Pražačka, Lucy, born in Prague in 2008.
Bonita RhoadsBonita Rhoads earned her PhD in Comparative Literature from Yale University in 2009. She was a lecturer at Charles University in Prague and an assistant professor at Masaryk University in Brno (the Czech Republic’s second city) for a decade before leaving university teaching to run her scholar-led guided walks company, Insight Cities. A native of New York City, Bonita moved to Prague in 2003 along with her husband, Vadim, co-founder of Insight Cities. She publishes on topics in nineteenth-century British and American literature. Her delight in her remarkable adopted city led her to become a dedicated student of Prague’s cultural and political history.
Martina Štrachová graduated from the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium where she earned a Bachelor's degree in Middle Eastern Studies and a Master's degree in World Religions. She loves architecture, history, geography and, of course, foreign languages, cultures and traditions. She gives a wide variety of thematic tours as a licensed guide for the city of Prague as well as throughout the Czech Republic and, as a licensed guide of Prague’s Jewish Museum, she focuses especially on helping travelers explore Prague’s essential Jewish history.
Kateřina PrůšováKateřina Průšová After studying Medieval Architecture at the Università per Stranieri, Perugia, Italy and Art History at the Université Paul Valéry, Montpellier III, France, Kateřina Průšová received her PhD from the Institute of Art History in the Philosophical Faculty of Charles University, Prague. A lecturer in Art History at both Charles and Anglo-American Universities, she is also an official guide of the Prague Jewish Museum, a docent for the National Gallery on the collection of old masters at the Sternberg Palace, for the St. Agnes Monastery, and for the newly opened exhibition of Alfons Mucha’s The Slav Epic at the Veletržní palace. In 2010 and 2011, she was a guest lecturer on Medieval Art at the University of New Orleans.
Jan richterJan Richter Since 2007, Jan has been a producer and journalist for the leading news radio station in the Czech Republic, Radio Prague (the Czech equivalent of the USA's NPR). In addition to hosting a regular 30 minute show on current national affairs, he also provides analysis and reporting for the English language service of the station on topics ranging from contemporary Czech culture and business to Czech history. Jan took his MA in History from Masaryk University in Brno. Fluent in Spanish (as well as English), Jan spent two years teaching in Latin America, then became the first translator of Che Guevara's Motorcycle Diaries into Czech. Jan's fascination with the turmoil of the twentieth century also led him to spend six years (2001-2007) as a historian and curator for the Regional Museum in the Moravian town of Mikulov, where he prepared exhibitions on Czech Jewish history, World War II history and post World War II development. Outside his busy work schedule, Jan always appreciates a good night out with taroky, a rapidly disappearing Moravian card game. For visitors interested in the war years, the communist and post-communist periods in Prague, Jan is your guide.
Hana KubatováHana Kubatová Hana Kubatová recieved her PhD in Modern History at the Charles University in Prague and her MA in Nationalism Studies from the Central European University in Budapest. While writing her dissertation (book version to be published Fall 2012), she was a research fellow at the Heinrich Heine University in Germany, the Slovak Academy of Sciences, Tel Aviv University in Israel and the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. Hana is the recipient of various awards, including the Charles H. Revson Foundation Fellowship from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Marie Curie Fellowship for Early Stage Training from the European Commission, the Felix Posen Fellowship from the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism, the Israel Government Scholarship, and the Gisela Fleischmann Scholarship from the Milan Simecka Foundation. She is an assistant professor at the Faculty of Social Sciences, Charles University in Prague and a lecturer at Anglo-American University. Hana teaches and publishes on modern Jewish history, as well on the social history of WWII and European nationalism.
Alex WentAlex Went Alex Went attended Cambridge University, where he took his MA in English Literature. Since first visiting Prague in 1991, he has developed a close association with the city, and has adapted a number of Czech works in translation for the stage, including Bohumil Hrabal's Too Loud a Solitude and The Diary of Petr Ginz, a moving account of the life of a Jewish boy in 1940s Prague. As well as being an accomplished writer and poet, Alex is the curator of The Prague Vitruvius, an online guide to the history of the city's architecture.
Hana NIchtburgerováHana Nichtburgerová Hana Nichtburgerová handles public relations for the European Shoah Legacy Institute, a public benefit corporation which cooperates with governments, non-governmental organizations and experts to foster the restitution of Jewish cultural assets stolen by the Nazis and to promote Holocaust education, research and remembrance. As an undergraduate, she spent an exchange year at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst taking courses in Jewish Studies and Philosophy. She obtained her MA in Jewish History, Jewish Literature and Philosophy from the College of Jewish Studies at the University of Heidelberg in Germany. In Israel, she studied Hebrew in Haifa while also participating in the Ramat Rachel Archeological Project. Hana is fluent in English and German and conversational in Hebrew.
Max BahnsonMax Bahnson Max Bahnson was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Having fallen in love with the beauty and the magic of Prague, and not just its beer, he moved to the city for good in 2002. Max is a writer and a blogger on the topic of Czech beer and is considered to be one of the leading authorities on the subject. He authors a regular column in The Prague Post under the pen name Pivní Filosof, The Beer Philosopher, and is a regular contributor to specialized magazines in Spain, the US and the Czech Republic.
GeorgeGeorge Thompson A citizen of the United States, George has lived in cities around the world. He has degrees in physics, the Japanese language and in architecture. George has a passion for uncovering the details in all that surrounds him which has led him to discover hidden and overlooked sites in the Golden City. His tours are bent toward exploring the beauty of the buildings and gardens of Prague that express the ideas and culture throughout the city’s long history. He loves photography and will point out photographic shots along the way. George's work experience in small-town preservation and the urban fabric of community development lend insight into Prague's history.


Insight Cities arranges this tour only for private groups with advance notice, at present. Thanks for emailing us at [email protected].

Private Walk (1-6 People) $600
Private Walk (7-10 People) $720

Additional Costs:
Private Car for Kutna Hora $175
Private Car for Kutna Hora and Sternberk Castle $225

Combined ticket for the Ossuary, the Cathedral of Assumption of Our Lady and Saint John the Baptist and the Church of St. Barbara:
Individual: CZK 160, students CZK 110


Groups of over 10 should contact us at [email protected] in order to get a special rate for their party.

Cancellation and Tipping

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