St Barbara’s Church at Kutna Hora
January 29, 2012 § 3 Comments
St Barbara’s Church situated on the south-western edge of the town of Kutna Hora, perching on a little cliff looking down to the world. I had some time left, so I decided to walk up there and see this biggest gothic church in town. It was a nice pleasant walk, navigating the old cobblestone streets on a gentle slope. Loved the fresh air here. So calming and peaceful, it was quite hard to imagine this place was a busy town few hundreds years ago. Besides passing through some restaurants and vintage boutiques, some section of the path offered a wonderful view of the town from far.
To get to this church with 3 interesting tent-like spires, one must walk over the above passage with some statues on. I rarely saw such spire roofs on a church, so to me, it was like seeing a castle for the first time in my life! Here’s a bit of story about the patron saint here, St Barbara, who was born somewhere in the Roman Empire to a very rich pagan. Then Barbara decided she wanted to be Christian. Her dad found out, got mad and killed her. Apparently God wasn’t happy with how the story ended, so a lightning struck and killed the father. Since then, for the association with lightning, she became the patron saint of those who worked with explosives. Perfect choice for a silver mining town such as Kutna Hora.
In 14th century, during Kutna Hora’s heyday, the mining communities decided to build a grand cathedral in order to get more independence from the the cistercian monastery in Sedlec. The original plan for the cathedral was twice the size of what we saw today. Construction work was interrupted for 60 years in 15th century because of war, and eventually stopped in 16th century as the town ran out of silver. They only put up a provisional wall and sorta leave it like that, and there wasn’t even a roof. As the church didn’t have a roof, prayers and meeting gone underground when the weather was bad. Finally someone took charge , modified the structure’s plan, put up a roof and finished up the work. This was probably why i thought the church looked like as if someone took a bite of it, and the fresco on the vault looked like missing a few spots.
They said that there are some very strange subjects were being painted up the vault, and even a sculpture of a monkey with an orange on a pillar. Unfortunately, without a binocular, I couldn’t spot them. However the fresco on the wall and the stained glass window could be admired without problem. I loved how this church was dedicated to this town, with imagery related to the town and its people. It was so easy to notice the distinctive roof of St Barbara’s Church on one of the stained glass. Seriously, how often can you recognize anything from a stained glass window?
I also was delighted to see a depiction of the town’s silver mining activity as well as the process of coin minting painted on the wall. It did show one person holding the mold while the coin maker was hammering, just like the tour guide told me at the Italian Court.