Tag - Czech republic

UNESCO-cited Bohemian Town Made Rich by Silver Mining

    St_ Barbara s Cathedral, Cr-bohemiaweddings.com

St_ Barbara s Cathedral, Cr-bohemiaweddings.com

In the early Middle Ages, rich deposits of silver were discovered in Kutna Hora, a fairytale Czech town about 65 km. east of Prague..

If you thought gypsies and violins were the essence of Bohemia, think again. In the early Middle Ages, it was silver mining that made Kutna Hora famous. On December 8, 1995, the “historic town centre, Church of Santa Barbara and Cathedral of Our Lady of Sedlac” which are found in a “preserved medieval urban setting remarkable for the wealth of its private houses.” was inscribed on the UNESCO list of cultural sites.

Arriving by Train Not Advised

The first thing that caught my eye as we got off the train from Prague was the hill. In fact, it seems that Kutna Hora, which sits atop a mountain, is miles from nowhere. Although the silver is long gone, the richness of the town’s architecture made it a natural choice when UNESCO was listing cultural treasures in the Czech Republic.

I went with my former husband, a Czech writer, to see this once royal city one bright fall day. The hour-long train trip from Prague’s Central Station left us in a field. We had to transfer to a shuttle train that took us to the foot of the “silver mountain”, then we walked up a rather steep hill to the town itself. As we wound our way through the narrow streets of Kutna Hora, we began to see various spires and turrets.We also saw dense smoke billowing from one street corner and when we investigated, came across a family celebration that included spit-roasting a pig in the backyard. As we ventured into the centre of town, the sight of our camera frightened a young gypsy girl. She was leaning on the windowsill of a dilapidated building across from the town’s Gothic fountain.

Founding of Kutna Hora

Kutna Hora was founded at the end of the 13th century after the discovery of silver ore deposits – once one of the richest in all Europe. Extensive mining of this metal made the Bohemian kings the wealthiest monarchs in Europe. After Prague, Kutna Hora became the most important site in the kingdom. It was here, during the reign of Vaclav II (Wenceslaus II) that the city’s mint started to make the Prague “groschen”, for centuries one of the most valuable currencies in Central Europe.

Sights to Top Your List

Kutna Hora’s famous melding of spires and turrets includes the Gothic Cathedral of Santa Barbara, which, according to our guide, was built with silver riches accumulated by miners and consecrated to Santa Barbara, the patron saint of miners. It also includes the Baroque Cathedral of Our Lady of Sedlec, founded by the Cistercians in 1142 and famous for its rather grotesque ossuary. The other remarkable buildings to visit are the castle known in Czech as Vlassky Dur and in English as the Italian Court. Dvur dates from the 13th century. It was one of the castles on the trade route leading from Bohemia to Moravia and actually pre-dates the founding of Kutna Hora. This castle is where silver was stored before shipping it to Prague. Note must be made of the excellent Mining Museum which has a replica pit mine.

Getting There on a Tour

If you do not speak Czech, the best way to get to Kutna Hora is on a half-day tour. My suggestion would be to take the one offered by Best Tour, a firm that offers various half-day and day trips from Prague, including a five-hour outing to Kutna Hora. This excursion leaves in summer at 1 p.m. and in winter at 12:30 p.m. from Vaclavske namesti 27 in central Prague. Mutl-lingual guides are provided.


  • UNESCO list of cultural sites
  • A Czech guide

A Budget Traveler’s Guide to Prague

Prague, cr-wilkipedia

Prague, Cr-wilkipedia

Despite its reputation as an inexpensive destination, prices in Prague are not as cheap as they used to be. The collapse of the dollar coupled with the strengthening of the Czech crown has only made things pricier for traveling Americans. In 2002, one US dollar could buy you forty Czech crowns (koruna); today the exchange rate for the dollar is hovering at about half of that rate. The dollar may not get you as far as it used to, but if you plan smartly and carefully, it is still possible to get some bargains in the City of 1,000 Spires.

Let’s start with accommodation. Hotel costs have skyrocketed in the wake of Prague’s tourism boom. There are legends of a time where you could get a bed for $10 a night, but those days are as long gone as Communism. Most standard hotels in the center will set you back at least 100 euros a night in high season. It is possible to hunt around for pensions and hostels that cost a bit less, but these can be a bit of a crap shoot – some are quite lovely and clean, others not so much. For the traveler who wishes to stay for more than a week, the best bet is to rent an apartment. It is less than a hotel and most agencies have discounted prices for longer stays. There’s also more room and amenities (a small kitchen including a stove and fridge, for example) and are often more centrally located. It is quite possible to pay about 60 euros a night for a small apartment that is smack in the middle of Prague’s Old Town.

Once you have the self-catering apartment with a kitchen, this makes it easier to save money on food. Restaurant prices in the center have risen so dramatically that most Czechs now shun them completely. Buying fresh food from a local supermarket is a good way to avoid the 300-500 crown entrée meal at the some of the more touristy restaurants. And while sampling the native food is one of the essential experiences of any trip abroad, you can splurge on some traditional Czech meat and dumplings a few times during your stay without feeling guilty because the previous night you enjoyed a self-catered, cheaper meal on the terrace of your apartment. However, if you don’t want to cook while still eating cheaply, the sausage vendors in Wenceslas Square can be a good way to eat authentic Czech food on a budget. They offer several varieties of klobasa and parek sausages for less than 100 crowns. (But try to pay in exact change if possible. As it is in a big tourist location, sometimes the vendors are less than scrupulous and may try to rip you off by not giving the correct amount of change back.) One final way to eat on the cheap is to always order beer as the beverage. The low price of beer is one reason that Prague’s reputation as a budget city has not completely evaporated yet. Beer is still cheap and plentiful as the Czechs are world-famous for their record per capita beer consumption. It usually costs less than water and the serving size is bigger than any of the soft drinks on offer.

Once you have properly digested the heavy Czech food and Pilsner beer, Prague is a great city for walking. Most of its attractions can be reached on foot if you are located in the center. But if you ate too many dumplings to be able to climb the many steps to its beautiful castle and cathedral, the impressive transport system can get you anywhere you need to go. It is possible to buy a multi-day pass that offers a discount on standard ticket prices, if you know that you will be using the trams, metro and buses often enough. You can also purchase the Prague card for about 1200 crowns (less if you’re a student), which will not only cover transportation costs, but also give you free entry into many of its attractions for 72 hours.

There are some very lovely towns just outside the city as well and you will see tourist agencies offering to take you there for several hundred crowns. What they don’t tell you is that train tickets cost a mere fraction of that. The trains are efficient and you can find timetable information and prices on their website , which is also available in English. The towns of Kutna Hora and its famous bone church and Karlstejn with its Cinderella castle are among the most popular and can be reached in about an hour for less than a hundred crowns round trip.

So while Prague may no longer deserve its fame as the budget capital of Europe, its other attractions do not disappoint. The sights (castles, cathedrals and old Jewish cemeteries) and sounds (Mozart and Dvorak concerts at night) of this Bohemian jewel are well worth any additional expense.

Beer Trips in Prague: A Major Attraction for Men

Prague brewery- tour, credit-prague-beer-tour.com

Prague brewery- tour, credit-prague-beer-tour.com

Prague is the capital city and also the largest city in Czech Republic which is also the political and cultural hub of Europe. The city has warm summers attracting millions of tourists from all parts of the world as it is full of places of tourist attractions. However, you may be surprised that thousands of tourists come here every year to have unlimited fun from beer trips that are tours organized to let tourists have some of the best beers made in the world. It is not surprising then that Czech Republic happens to be the country with the highest beer consumption per capita in the world.  It is when you undertake a beer trip in Prague that you understand the reason why tourists are so eager to be in Prague instead of any other European city.

Prague is home to brands like Budwiser, Pilsner Urquell, and some of the brands that are not available anywhere else in the world but so zippy that they seem to better than the best in other countries. There is a local brewery in Prague (Staropramen) that makes lager beer and is a favorite of tourists arriving in Prague.

Even if you are not a beer lover, you must keep a day reserved for the beer trip to know why it is so popular among beer enthusiasts around the world. There are many who say that Czechs make world’s best beer and you know that when you try different beers available in Prague. The most popular among the tourists happens to be Gambrinus though connoisseurs say that Kozel’s Medium is the best tasting beer available in Prague, However, if you ask different enthusiasts, you would get different names depending upon the likes and tastes of different people. Two other popular beer brands in Prague are un pasteurized Pilsner Urquell and Budvar.

There are many companies organizing beer trips in Prague. These trips include taking people to places of tourist attraction and at the same time providing them beers of Prague. So you get the best of the both worlds with fun and relaxation at the same time. You are also taken to local brewery where you are allowed to taste the beer being produced which is a great feeling in itself.

Instead of trying beers available in the super market that could be a south African or Dutch made, it is better to get some tips from a local beer enthusiast or go on a guided tour organized by several companies. Most of these tours start at 5 PM in the evening and continue till about 10 PM in the evening.

Everywhere you go, you are greeted with beer in Prague. But you mostly encounter Budvar, Pilsner, and Kozel. However, these represent only tip of the iceberg and you discover the best for you on your own.

Instead of staying in a hotel, book a Prague apartment just like tourists rent out apartment in Amsterdam or a holiday apartment in Brussels as it proves more comfortable and cheaper than a hotel.