Kutná Hora, then to Brno
This morning we left Mcely and headed to Kutná Hora. In the historical town center are three very popular sights, the Unesco Church of St Barbara, The Bone Church, and Cathedral of Our Lady at Sedlec. While the Cathedral of Our Lady at Sedlec was nice, we had seen a lot of cathedrals, however when we walked over the the Bone Church (aka Ossuary, or ‘Kostnice’ in Czech), we found it to be quite a unique experience.
In the 13th century, Jindřich, the abbot of Sedlec monastery, returned from a visit to Palestine with a pocketful of soil and sprinkled it on the cemetery surrounding the Chapel of All Saints. This direct association with the holy land led to the graveyard becoming a sought after burial site among the aristocracy of Central Europe. At the time of the thirty years’ war in the 17th century, the number of burials outgrew the space available, therefore the older remains began to be exhumed and stored in the chapel. The bones were placed in tombs and also used for decoration. The centerpiece is a massive chandelier (or candelabra), all made from the bones of some 40,000 people.
I think it would be a challenge for any Halloween enthusiasts to find a spookier place to visit.
We then went to what might be considered the crown jewel of Kutná Hora, the St. Barbara Cathedral. While the enthusiasm to visit yet another cathedral was not high, our moods soon changed when we discovered that a very special treat was in store. Our guide obtained two sets of keys, one that let us stroll up a flight of stairs to peruse some of the alcoves looking down at the massive organ and pews. This in itself was a treat as few are ever able to experience the nooks and crannies of historic cathedrals. The other key however, well that allowed us to exit the interior of the monolithic structure and peer outside, high above ground level to walk along a catwalk…among dozens of late Gothic spires. I am so honored by the many unique experiences that I am often afforded. Getting these vantages from the St. Barbara was exhilarating—we were close-up to the creepy gargoyles, and the valley views of Kutná Hora were stunning.
It was getting a bit late in the afternoon so we headed just across a bridge to Vile U Varhanáře, a charming hotel with restaurant café for lunch. While it was starting to cloud up, the views from the patio were too good not to sit out and enjoy. With a real Budweiser in hand we had a lovely traditional Czech meal.
With our bellies full, it was time to hit the road to the Czech Republic’s second largest city, Brno. We checked into the Hotel Grandezza, which would be our hub for the next few nights as we explored the wine region of southern Monrovia. Our hotel is situated in one of the most venerable squares in Bruno, walking distance to many of the historic sights, such as the illustrious St. Peter and Paul Cathedral and Špilberk Castle. I don’t think we have a chance of getting lost either, as the Hotel Grandezza is one of the most iconic structure in this historic part of town, with a beautiful baroque fountain right in front.
Our accommodations are wonderfully luxurious with elegant furnishings that are inspired by many modern elements. We also have a whopping dual window that opens up to the square below, letting in fresh air while being able to observe all of the surrounding activity.
After getting settled in our room, we had a bit of time to ourselves before the dinner reservations, so we walked the beautiful streets of Brno, taking in all of the angelic architecture and charm of the historic part of town. We heard music emanating from one of the streets, so as avid music lovers that we are, we followed the sounds. We ended up in what I can only assume was the main square in town, where throngs of people gathered with vendors providing everything from food, wine, beer, music and more.
While we were excited for our fine-dining experience to come, we would have been quite content hanging out at the festival, grabbing a bottle of wine and some local fare enjoying the sounds of traditional Czech music. After spending a little time enjoying all the sights, sounds and smells of the festival, we bought a bottle of wine from one of the vendors and headed back to our lovely room at Hotel Grandezza.
An hour later we headed across the square to Barceló Brno Palace, one of the finest hotels in town where we had the most marvelous dinner at their Palazzo Restaurant. While the restaurant has it’s own entrance, we walked through the lobby of the hotel, which was simply stunning. We learned that the large open archway of the hotel actually used to have a road running through it. The lobby was very modern with some ultra chic touches.
The sophistication of the hotel extended through to the restaurant, which looked impeccable. With our taste buds whetting in anticipation, our gastronomic experience soon began. The best way to describe the type of food at Palazzo Restaurant might be to say, Czech Fusion with Mediterranean influences. Our first course was a Caprese salad, which the fresh tomatoes likely came from the daily farmers market that takes place each day in the square where our hotel is located.
Whew, it has been a long, but very eventful day. The adventures continue tomorrow as we explore various villages of southern Monrovia. Please stay tunned.