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Kutna Hora

Kutná Hora (Kuttenberg) is a town situated in the central part of Bohemia on the river Vrchlice. It has an area of 33 square km and its population totals about 21,000 inhabitants.

The town was founded in the 13th century as a mining settlement that emerged there as a result of processing local silver mines. In 1300 Bohemian king Wenceslaus II issued a mining code, a legal document that described all administrative and technical terms and conditions for mines operation. Since then Kutná Hora started to grow and develop rapidly and during the period of 14 – 16th centuries it became the main Prague’s competitor in the sphere of economy, culture and politics.

In 1420 Holy Roman emperor Sigismund made Kutná Hora the center of operations in his unsuccessful struggle against the Taborites, a religious community considered heretical by the Catholic Church, headed by Jan Žižka. The town was conquered by the Taborites, but in 1422 it was burnt by imperial armed forces.

After rebellion of Bohemian Estates against Holy Roman emperor Ferdinand I in 1547 Kutná Hora lost all its privileges and started to decline. Numerous epidemics of the plague and the damage caused by the Thirty Years' War hastened its fall. In 1770 the town was almost completely annihilated by fire. By the end of the 18th century local mines were completely deserted.

The whole historical town center of Kutná Hora (and the neighboring town of Sedlec) today is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The most prominent architectural masterpieces in Kutná Hora are the late Gothic Church of St Barbara (founded in 1368), the Italian Court, a former royal residence and mint (built at the end of the 13th century) and the Gothic Stone Haus used since the beginning of the 20th century as a museum.

The neighboring town of Sedlec is famous for the Cathedral of Our Lady and the Ossuary, a tiny Roman Catholic chapel, which is situated beneath the Cemetery Church of All Saints. There up to 70,000 human skeletons are kept skillfully arranged to decorate the chapel.

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