It is hard to believe that at one time Kutná Hora was once Prague's main rival in Bohemia in terms of wealth and beauty. Silver was discovered nearby in the 12th century and for the next four centuries the mines provided Kutná Hora with the funds it needed to undertake grand projects. But as the silver began to play out in the 17th century, Kutná Hora slowly faded while Prague continued to flourish.
Kutná Hora's comparative lack of importance did, however, work to preserve its historic landmarks. It was spared the dreary postwar construction that has blighted so many other areas of the Czech Republic. Kutná Hora today still has a largely intact Gothic and Baroque town center that has earned it recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The grandest structure in Kutná Hora is, without a doubt, the massive St. Barbara's Cathedral. St. Barbara is the patron saint of miners and so the mining town of Kutná Hora spared no expense in her honor. Work on the cathedral began in the 14th century and continued over the next five centuries (even after the mines were bare). The unusual three-peaked, tent-like roof was added in the 16th century, replaced in the 18th and restored again in the 19th century. All in all, St. Barbara's Cathedral is one of the most unique in Europe.