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UNESCO Sites –Part 7 – Kutná Hora and Litomyšl

photo:  (czechtourism.com)

During our tour of UNESCO World Heritage Sites we should visit the towns of Kutná Hora and Litomyšl. Kutná Hora is ranked among the most significant historic towns in the Czech Republic. Litomyšl not only offers sightseeing, but a rich cultural life throughout the year as well.


Kutná Hora (map)

Kutná Hora is a town situated in central Bohemia, with a population of some 22 thousand. It played a very important role at the beginnings of the development of the Kingdom of Bohemia. This little town is associated with the mining of silver and coin minting. Kutná Hora was rightfully considered to be the treasury of the land whose wealth gave strength to the expansion of the Kingdom of Bohemia. The cultural and historical significance of the preserved monuments were recognised in 1995 when the downtown area, along with the Church of St. Barbara and the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary in the municipal area of Sedlec were inscribed in the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List.

The most outstanding historical downtown monuments are the above-mentioned Gothic Church of St. Barbara with the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, as well as the Gothic Hrádek Palace, the Italian Court (today’s town hall) which used to be a temporary residence of Czech kings, the Stone House (Kamenný dům) in the late Gothic style, the Jesuit College and the Ursuline Convent. Besides public, municipal and sacral buildings, the urban preserve includes a number of Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque dwelling houses.
The Church of St. Barbara,
located in the historical downtown, was established in 1388. The first architect was probably Johann Parler, son of the famous Peter Parler, the author of St. Vitus’ Cathedral in Prague. The construction work comprised several stages and, to a certain degree, was dependant on the prosperity of the silver mines in Kutná Hora. The church was consecrated to St. Barbara, the patron saint of miners, and the church interior was decorated with several remarkable frescos depicting mining-related themes.
The Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary
is the oldest Cistercian monastery in the Czech Republic. It is a temple of light and its magnificent windows and the general layout of the building were truly unique in Bohemia. Compared to other period buildings, there is hardly any decoration, which further underlines the role of the light. It is the continuously changing light of the interior that provides the whole building, in a subtle femininity anyway, with unbelievable lightness, taking it to unearthly heights.

Litomyšl – castle and castle premises

The Renaissance castle in Litomyšl is the most significant monument built in the Renaissance style in the Czech Republic and it is a sought-after tourist attraction. It was included in the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List in 1999.

The Renaissance castle (map), originating from the second half of the 16th century, is a typical example of an arcade castle based on an Italianate style. Despite remodelling the interior, mainly towards the end of the 18th century, it has retained an almost unadulterated Renaissance appearance, including the unique graffito facades and gables. Upon inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage List, its significance was recognised worldwide. The castle is surrounded with outbuildings, mostly built in the Baroque style.

The castle premises are completed with large gardens which were funded along with the castle, and remodelled and extended in the 18th century. The gardens include an amphitheatre, which is a venue where various cultural events take place. Among the most significant and frequented is the festival called Smetana’s Litomyšl, organised in honour of Bedřich Smetana, an outstanding Czech composer, who was born in Litomyšl Castle in 1824.

Author: Romana Kuncová
Added: 01.12.2011

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