Saturday, October 31, 2015

A Day Trip to Kutná Hora

While in Prague, my wife and I decided to take a day trip to visit Kutná Hora. We had considered several options, including Cesky Krumlov, the Terezin concentration camp, and of course Kutná Hora. Cesky Krumlov looks lovely but it's a 2.5 hour trip in a bus each way and that doesn't leave a lot of time to actually sightsee if you're only going for a day. The Terezin concentration camp was a possibility but we were drawn to Kutná Hora for the weird "bone church" (Sedlec ossuary, see below) and the town itself.

Early on October 2 we walked from our hotel to the main Prague train station ("hlavní nádraží") and took a train to Kutná Hora. When you buy your ticket in Prague, you can get a ticket to the Kutná Hora main train station, but I don't advise this. The train station is a few kilometres from the town itself so it is not a practical walk. You can buy a ticket for Kutná Hora město ("town") which includes a transfer to a local train to take you to the town itself. The ticket is about Cdn $6/person one way, and the ride takes about an hour.

Diesel at Kutná Hora station
The transfer between trains at the main train station in Kutná Hora is quite quick, so don't dawdle like I did to take a photo! I saw this diesel switcher and had to grab a quick shot, but we very nearly missed the transfer to the local train. My wife was not impressed, and neither was the conductor of the local train! At least the picture turned out.

The local train is a little two car affair, and I'll provide a photo later. We chose to get off at the Sedlec suburb rather than ride the train right into town. The ossuary is there so we decided to get that first. There is also a large cathedral in Sedlec with the unwieldy name of  the Church of the Assumption of Our Lady and Saint John the Baptist. It's impressive and important enough to earn a UNESCO designation. I checked it out briefly but we were chiefly interested in the ossuary.

What to say about this place? It's weird and creepy and interesting. The ossuary is located beneath the Cemetery Church of All Saints ("Hřbitovní kostel Všech Svatých") and contains the bones of between 40,000 and 70,000 people. Many of these bones have been artistically arranged in the 1500s and it has become a huge tourist draw.

Here are a few photos. If you google Kutná Hora bone church you will see many more.

So weird.

There's a city bus that runs from the Sedlec suburb into the old town. It's quite inexpensive but a tad slow, but we took it anyway. We got off near the giant St. Barbara's Church and visited that, then walked through the old town and had lunch at the excellent Restaurant Dačický.

The local train was due to leave at 4:45 PM so we wandered over to the station area to wait for it. I took a photo of a crossing just to show the crossing signal.

Pozor vlak = "attention train".

I'm honestly not sure what the different light colours mean, as I never saw it operate.

I took a photo from the crossing to document the yard and area - see below. There are a few details visible in the photo.

Kutná Hora train yard
The station is visible in the centre. You can see a dwarf signal on the right, and a few tracks.

The train station itself looks fairly impressive, but in reality the passengers seem to see only a small part of it.

Kutná Hora train station exterior

Kutná Hora train station interior
While waiting, I took some photos of the area. There is a nice looking building - maybe an engine house? - opposite the station.
Kutná Hora engine house?
I wish I had had time to go peer in the windows.

There was some very old railway equipment nearby too. I was wondering if they were being collected for a museum display or something. They didn't look operational at all.
Locomotive in Kutná Hora

Old railway equipment in Kutná Hora
Our cute little train arrived, right on time.
Kutná Hora local train
Everyone hopped on board and we rattled our way back to the main station outside town. From there we walked under the tracks to the platform to wait for the train to Prague.
Waiting for the train in Kutná Hora
A train to Brno came by while we were waiting. Soon our train came and we boarded and headed back to Prague. I had a little GPS app in my phone that I used to clock our top speed. Pretty impressive for a local train!

The app is pretty cool.

On the way I snapped this photo of a train in the Praha Liben train station, a suburban station I believe.

Once we arrived at the main Prague station, I took a photo of our train and a photo of the train station itself.
Our train at the Prague train station
 Like many European train stations, the train shed is pretty open and airy.

Train shed of the Prague train station
That was our day visiting Kutná Hora by train!

Next up, I spent a morning railfanning the Prague train station.

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Jean said...

Hi Steve, Thanks for sharing your travel experience. You post is very informative and useful. I added several attractions(Bone church and the train yard) found in your post to my must-go list. My friend and I are planning to travel to Kutna Hora, and just wonder how you think this itinerary,, if it is good, we'd like to follow its route. Thanks.

Canadian Train Geek said...

Hi Jean, we visited St. Barbara's and the ossuary, and walked past Chrám Nanebevzetí Panny Marie but didn't go in. The itinerary looks interesting!

Gerben Vos said...

Hi Steve! If I look at the railway situation on aerial maps and such, it looks like the local train has to reverse in the yard between Kutná Hora hlavní and Sedlec. Is that true?

Canadian Train Geek said...

Hi Gerben, yes, I think the local has to reverse in the Kutná Hora hlavní station yard. I know the local goes past Kutná Hora to Černíny and beyond.