St. Peter's Church in the village of West Lydford, England.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Keinton Mandeville, England.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Pogradec, Albania on October 2nd.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

A Cool Mine on a Hot Day

Cool, as in cooler than it was outside! We are having all the summer that we didn't get in England. It was another 32C (89F) day here in Kutna Hora, Czech Republic and so we chose the early afternoon to go on a mine tour where the temperature was a lot cooler.

But first, we had some other attractions to visit. We had bought this "silver key" pass that gave us entry into several attractions, as well as discounts on others. Turns out it is not good value for the money for us because some of the included attractions we would not have done if we had to pay separately. Not one of our better purchases, but the total was only around $12.50 each so all we would have saved if we paid to enter the ones we wanted individually is about $6.00 total. So no big deal.

First, we went to the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary and Saint John the Baptist.

Dating back to the 12th century, but destroyed and rebuilt a couple of times. The most recent reconstruction was only completed in 2009. It is a UNESCO World Heritage property.

This confession box was carved of wood in 1730. Amazing!

Ruth beside the confession box.

Ruth at the neat spiral staircase.

It is a very tall church!

So with such a tall church, it is amazing how they painted this on the ceiling!

Next we booked our underground mine tour for 2:00pm. We figured that we had enough time to walk up to the other area cathedral, also another UNESCO World Heritage site.

There is a beautiful view of Kutna Hora from the Church of St. Barbara.

The Church of St. Barbara was completed in the 15th century.

The church is famous for it's murals.

And for the statues that decorate the organ.

How they built this stuff back then amazes us!

It costs 60 korunas ($3.00) each to enter each of the churches we visited yesterday. We enjoy that kind of thing, so we thought it was not a bad price. Isn't it interesting that we like to visit churches yet we are not religious? 

The next item included in our pass was a visit to the Jesuit College built in 1667. However this building currently houses the Gallery of Central Bohemian Art which is "focused on the fine and visual arts of the 20th and 21st century". So, for those of you who enjoy this sort of thing, it may be worth the money to see. For us, we don't get it!

These were two of the better pieces. Each item had a little card saying who the artist was and when it was purchased. We think it would have been more interesting had they included the purchase price. Apparently we are not the only ones who "don't get it" because we were the only ones there!

Things that make you go "hmmmm?"

Ruth, deep in thought.

Cost to enter this gallery? Between 60 and 120 korunas ($3 to $6) depending on how many floors you want to see. Our pass only gave us access to the first floor. Fine by us!

Next we went back to the mine for our 2:00pm tour. The town of Kutna Hora exists because of the silver that was found here in the 12th century. It became a hive of activity for the next several hundred years as the mint was located here and all of the silver that was mined here became silver coins. It is also the reason that two such ornate cathedrals were built in the area. The undergound mine tunnels crisscross under the city itself and the tour we took starts right near the central area.

First we had to get suited up.

 Low ceilings meant we had to wear helmets, and robes to protect our clothing from dripping mineral waters. Then, we had to clamber down about 160 steps as we went 166 feet below ground into the narrow mine tunnels. To give you an idea, some of the tunnels are so narrow that even I had to turn sideways to get through! Yes, there were signs at the top saying "no obese people allowed".

We thought we were going to be climbing back up the stairs to exit, but we came out through another opening lower down and walked a path back up.

From start to finish it was about a 90 minute tour. We got a 10% discount because of the pass we had bought, but that meant we paid 108 korunas ($5.40) instead of 120 korunas ($6.00). Not bad value for the money and we think the tour is worth it. 

Dinner out. 

Next, we had to get some food. We had a late breakfast and had it in our room before we left. Then, we just had some snacks before going in the mine. Then we figured we would get a meal out in late afternoon, and only some snacks later in the evening. We checked a few places near the central area, but they were all sort of touristy, with prices to go along with it. We finally found a place that looked good and was outdoors but under canopies so we were in the shade. Nice spot, and good prices. Two large beers, a glass of wine, a bottle of water, I had a sort of chicken stir fry and Ruth had the baked trout. Total cost including tax and tip was 408 korunas ($20.00)!

We're thinking of changing our plans a bit and dropping Poland from the itinerary. We would have only seen a very small southern section of Poland, and our only real reason for going there was the salt mines in Krakow. But you have to take the train to Katowice to get to Krakow, and it's a bit of a crooked journey. Besides, there is so much to see here and we will still be going to Slovakia and Hungary. Besides, it's one more language and currency we won't need to worry about. 

We're happy that we will be profiling a 4 to 5 day visit to the smaller Czech city of Olomouc next weekend! Most visitors to Czech Republic see only Prague and forget about the many smaller cities so we're excited to be helping the Olomouc Tourism office with promoting their area!

Today, we're going to do a hike! 


  1. Think you will be sorry if you don't do that area in Poland. In our option they are the best mines we have seen and totally different to anything else with all the carvings. Also the concentration camp is the best we have visited, very moving but a great history lesson. We took a bus from Katowice to Krakov with no problem or connections.

    1. We are still thinking about it Glen. We have definitely heard that the mine is amazing. It will depend a lot on what we find to do after Olomouc. If we don't see it this time then we will always have the next time. We would really like to spend more time in Poland and explore more of it rather than just flit through it.

  2. Ha ha, we don't get it either!!!
    Enjoy your hike, look forward to seeing the photos from the comfort of our chairs!!!

    1. Your chairs would probably have been a more comfortable place, it was 32C (90F) yesterday and we hiked about 14.7km (9 mi) but it was a pretty hike most of the time.

  3. Another great sightseeing day winding down with a nice looking dinner for a great price.

  4. Having the chance to dicide in the last moment what to do or where to go is what I call free lance vacation... congrats and thanks for the ride.

    1. Thank you jonyboytj for following along. We love your description "freelance vacation"!

  5. Very interesting architecture! Love the terraced slope in the header photo. Is it grapes?

    1. Yes Contessa, I believe it is grapes! The town itself has a number of wine cellars but I don't believe the vineyards themselves are in this immediate area.

  6. We really enjoy visiting cathedrals like this one.

    1. There really are some beautiful ones out there, that is for sure.

  7. The last mine I went into was back in Sudbury in about 1973. It was a smelly, scary place. Doesn't help that nickel mining is kinda noisy too. Mind you, it wasn't exactly a "tour" as we were the guest of a fellow who worked there, so maybe that's why it was a little more intense.
    Not so sure I'd go down into a mine any more. Glad you enjoyed your experience.

    1. It was quite interesting. I couldn't imagine what it would have been like to work in this one. They said they hardly had any light and had to work mostly by fell, sound and smell to find and dig out the silver. Not my idea a good job!

  8. What a great time we're having following you two. It's put a bug in us to visit England. We've thought about it several times.

    Remember we're tagging along. We love it.

    1. If you have never been to England before then we highly suggest that you do. It is so beautiful, especially in the country and has so much history along with the rest of Europe. Thinking about it won't get you there, you just have to go and experience it.

      Glad you are enjoying our adventures.

  9. Such beautiful architecture. The churches are absolutely stunning! We are living our international travels vicariously through you at the moment. Thanks!

  10. Calvin and BrendaJuly 29, 2012 at 1:24 PM

    Beautiful churches, it always amazes me that theres so much wealth put into them. There were churches everywhere in France as well. I think every single town had one or several and they were sometimes just within walking distance of each other. I suppose hundreds of years ago people never travelled and wherever people settled and developed small villages, they all required a church. Very interesting anyway when you stop to think back and realize these buildings are centuries old.
    We visited a mine in Australia, the only one we've been in, called "Daydream Mine" in Silverton - guess what they mined? :). It was pretty cool but I too couldn't imagine working in one, the spaces were so narrow - we were told that they hired a lot of small boys as no one else could fit through the openings. Way too tight for me - I was glad to get out, felt like I couldn't breath. When we finished our tour we were treated to fresh baked scones with devonshire cream and fresh preserves, a first for us as well.
    Isn't travelling grand - sure enjoying our vacation with you guys, putting lots of new ideas in our heads about future travels. Love it, thank you!

    1. Yes, there are always lots of churches around and we always find the architecture of them very interesting.

      I couldn't imagine working in those mines either. It would have been a very difficult life for sure.

      Glad we are giving you ideas on some future travel for you.


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