Day 6: St. Barbara’s Cathedral

The place I picked today was the St. Barbara’s Cathedral in Kutna Hora. There was a lot to take in at Kutna Hora, but St. Barbara’s Cathedral really stood out to me. Before the cathedral was built, there was a small area for prayer that was built by a miner who had been buried in one of the local mines for several days and prayed to Barbara to be rescued. About five days later, he was rescued by other miners and built a small church for prayer. Over the course of centuries, the cathedral was built and added onto. Originally construction started in 1388 but was not finished until 1905 because of the financial instability of the silver mines. The cathedral was originally designed in Gothic style with much of the design details being similar to that of St. Vitus in Prague Castle. In 1588, silver mine prosperity was at an all-time low and with a change in priorities from the leadership in Prague the cathedral construction was at a standstill. By this point, the Jesuits had control of the area and continued working on the cathedral in Baroque style. Construction continued again in the 19th century up until the completion just after the turn of the 20th century.

St. Barbara’s Cathedral on the left of the old Jesuit College overlooking a small vineyard.

Outside and inside the cathedral, there was much to see. The people visiting the cathedral were either praying or taking pictures. Some of the people working were tour guides of employees working at the cathedral. Structurally on the outside, there were flying buttresses located on the outside of the cathedral along with stain glass windows, gargoyles, gardens, and steeples. The windows outside of the cathedral are clear but not completely transparent. One can see a little into the cathedral but not much. The flying buttresses immediately catch your eye as they stand out from the background of green landscape and blue sky. The buttresses frame the cathedral beautiful and truly make the cathedral that much more impressive and overwhelming.

Outside view of St. Barbara’s Cathedral with a portion of the gardens

The gargoyles come out about a meter from the basic frame outline of the cathedral so that the water from the roof is drained through a pipe and falls about a meter from the base frame. This helps keep the foundation of the church from being affected by weather conditions.

Gargoyle on one of the sides of the cathedral.

This rainwater also can be used for the lush gardens that surround the premises of the grounds. These gardens had roses and bushes that were clearly well-maintained and on the hill that leads down from the cathedral are vineyards that grow some of most well-renowned wine in the region.

Ceiling of the cathedral from the first floor with a few of the statues.

Inside was just as incredible as the outside. The stained-glass windows were vibrant and beautiful with bright blues, greens, reds, and purples. These colors reflected all throughout the cathedral and played beautifully on the marble throughout the building. The reflections are even more stunning when bouncing off of the statues on the second floor that looks down on the pews. There are five statues that are double the height of an average person and are cut from wood. On the same level is a pipe organ with 4,000 pipes and has hallowed out wooden angels that are painted gold in the front.

Pipe organ in the cathedral.

Back on the first level are the painted glass windows and a number of original frescoes. Some of the paintings on the walls are not frescoes because they were not originally painted onto the wall as a primary paint coat.

Frescoes and stained glass windows inside the cathedral.

The sounds that could be heard in the cathedral were prayers, kids running and laughing with each other, birds chirping, cameras flashing, and general chatter. There were a number of people that stood at the front of the cathedral praying and a few people sitting in the pews praying. There were also a few young families with children that were actively running around the cathedral and playing with each other. They were chasing each other on the second level with the statues. At one specific point, they were shoving each other on the balcony that overlooks that garden. On this balcony, it was clear to hear the birds chirping. There were a number of different species because of the different calls that were being made. Back inside it was clear to hear the camera’s flashing as people took pictures of the inside of the cathedral. In between the camera, flashing was general chatter between people as they were commenting on different features of the cathedral.

A portion of the view from the balcony with some of the gardens below.

The smell outside of the cathedral was pollen and fresh cut grass from the gardens that surrounded the cathedral. It was a very comforting smell that was drastically different from the smell inside the cathedral. Inside it smelt of dust and age from the wood that was found in the statues. These smells were so intense in some areas created a taste in the air, especially the taste of pollen and dust. These smells along with the sounds and sights created a peaceful feeling. Both inside and outside could be a relaxing and comforting area to enjoy the sights. Overall, this cathedral is truly stunning and took centuries to create which is clear in the designs that represent each time period that work was continued to finish the cathedral.

View from the second floor down to the the front area of the cathedral.

All photos taken by Delaney.