Saturday, March 24, 2012

Prague by night

This holiday was my first real trip with my new camera and I was very pleased with the results. On returning from Kutna Hora we went for a curry (yes I know, but it is like an addiction for me) in the Old Town and then I had the opportunity to try some night photography.

I did not think these would be very good, so I was surprised to see the results when I got home! Most of these structures have appeared in my previous posts with the exception of the National Theatre and a row of illuminated penguins!

St Barbara, Kutna Hora, Czech Republic

Some books call this church a cathedral, but I can find no reference to it ever having a bishop. It may have been collegiate, as next door is a large Jesuit College, although again the church was not Jesuit itself. Whatever it is deservedly one of the most famous churches in Central Europe, and is unusual in having no tower but the main roof of the church is carried up into three turrets along its length. The approach is along the terrace of the College with its statues and fine views across the town to St James church. The distant view of St Barbara was taken from alongside St James church. The building is C14-C16 in the main but was left incomplete until the C19. The wealth from the town's silver mines paid for it and these became less productive in the late medieval period. Walking around there is a wealth of carving, with figures leaning out to you, and the singing banjo player was my favourite! The array of flying buttresses are also astonishing. The lofty interior blew me away, the upper part of the nave pillars seem to twist and turn into the flamboyant vaulting ribs. Some baroque fittings are preserved and also some of the side chapels and ambulatory contain wall paintings. this was my reason for visiting Kutna Hora and it did not disappoint at all.

St John Nepomuk, Kutna Hora, Czech Republic

In contrast to Prague, the main sights in the town are medieval Gothic, and there is only the one baroque church here and this is it. Compared to the churches in Prague, this appears a much quieter affair, with simpler decoration and detailing. It was built 1734-52 and has a busy facade with a pair of small towers to the narrow street. Under the Communists the church became a civil defence store, a fire station and a waste store, and much of its decoration was damaged or stolen. A major restoration was finished in 2000 and the church was handed back to the catholic church. There are a number of very upset angels inside.

St James, Kutna Hora, Czech Republic

The main parish church of the town lies just behind the main square (where we partook of a large beer for 90p) and was built 1350-86, although work continued well into the following century. It is another hall church, but preserves some baroque altarpieces, including the high altar of 1678. There was a statue of a saint with a crutch, not sure which - perhaps one of our iconography experts knows! However I loved the small figures of the silver miners in the south aisle.

St Mary, Kutna Hora, Czech Republic

From Sedlec a 15 minute walk along a main road brought us to the edge of the medieval town of Kutna Hora. The first church is the medieval St Mary , a tall hall-church with a west tower. The tower was open but a locked screen denied entry to the church although there was a good view of the interior from here.

Cemetery Chapel and Ossuary, Sedlec, Czech Republic

Probably has more visitors than the abbey church, this small Gothic church is raised over a vast crypt. The upper church is quite plain, but below the bones of countless people are tidily stockpiled and used to create decorative features. I particularly liked the bone chandeliers!

Abbey Church of Our Lady, Sedlec, Czech Republic

The one excursion we did from Prague took us to Kutna Hora, some 50-60 miles from the city.
The main line station for Kutna Hora is closer to the suburb of Sedlec than the city itself. To get to the city you have to take a peculiar little single carriage train. However this was quite handy as a visit to Sedlec formed part of the plans for the day. The abbey church was built in the C13 but destroyed during the hussite wars and restored in an odd stylised baroque gothic. Window tracery was removed and the vaults decorated with plaster ribbed patterns. A major restoration took place here in 2001. The crisp and cool lines of the interior show especially well in the view taken from the west triforium. I am sure the interior once held many more baroque fittings and there were more coloured frescoes than currently are preserved.  The east end has a large staircase on the north side which leads to the inside of the lean-to roofs above the aisle vaults and to the small gallery over the west end for a splendid view of the interior..