Name “Kutna Hora” probably is not familiar to you. It seems that there is nothing interesting for tourists. Perhaps, they go there only to put in an appearance. What special features has this place? Well, a small town sixty kilometers from Prague … The historic center, which all can be walked round during 2 hours. Antique cathedrals, the royal palace and the mint place. Pavements, narrow streets and other things in the spirit of «old Europe».
All like in capital, but Kutna Hora is a bit smaller. It is like a regional center with a population of 20,000 inhabitants.
But, as ancient Greek would say:
— If at first glance you didn’t see, look again.
But in fact, Kutna Hora is one of the major cities in Czech history. And in some aspects it is more important than Prague. Hussites fiercely defended and upheld Kutna Hora from the Pope’s Crusaders. And it’s worth noting, that Crusaders and the entire Holy Roman Empire wanted to seize exactly this area.
The question arises: why is it so?
The answer lies directly beneath the city. In the mines that spread for miles. These mines (now they are opened to the public) in the Middle Ages constitute the main wealth of the Czech crown. Here main «currency» of medieval Europe was extracted. Kutna Hora gave a third part of the total European production of silver. Kings minted their profiles on silver, people settled accounts on the markets and in taverns by using silver. The defeated paid buyout in silver, the winner paid the soldiers in silver.
You may ask: What about gold? It is more important than money, isn’t it?
My friends, during those times gold was very rare and cost a lot, so it was used to for luxury things: crowns, scepters, jewelry and so on. Of course, gold coins were minted, but they were used mainly as a modern bank transfers. It is more convenient and safer for the merchant to pass half of Europe with a dozen gold coins in a purse, than with a few kilograms of silver in the chest. It becomes abundantly clear why Crusaders fought with Hussites and why the Royal Palace and Mint are located in Kutna Hora.
For European realities of that time, controlling the Kutna Hora you would have had as much influence as nowadays the owner of a monopoly on the import of Borjomi in Europe has or the owner of holding of shares of Microsoft has. Unfortunately, the heyday of Kutna Hora as the center of the silver mining had ended before the mines were run out. The famous Corsican was the reason of it. Spanish explorer Cristobal Colon as known as Christopher Columbus. In the early 16th century a huge amount of cheap silver gushed out from Americas. Of course, it influenced on the market price of this metal. All in all, it was not profitable to mine silver in Europe.
But despite the decline, the masters of Kutna Hora haven’t lost their skills. And the traces of silver past can be seen up to this day. I highly recommend to visit the museum of silver, as well as the mine.
Well, that is all for today.
In the next post I’ll tell you about one of the interesting places of Kutna Hora, which is associated with one of the darkest pages in European history.