Saint Barbara's Church is a Roman Catholic church in Kutná Hora. It is one of the most famous Gothic churches in central Europe and it is a UNESCO world heritage site. St Barbara is the patron saint of miners (among others), which was highly appropriate for a town whose wealth was based entirely upon its silver mines.
Construction of the church began in 1388, but because work on the church was interrupted several times, it was not completed until 1905. The first architect was probably Johann Parler, son of Peter Parler. Work on the building was interrupted for more than 60 years during the Hussite Wars and when work resumed in 1481, Matěj Rejsek, Benedikt Rejt and Mikuláš Parler, assumed responsibility.
The original design was for a much larger church, perhaps twice the size of the present building. Construction, however, depended on the prosperity of the town's silver mines, which became much less productive. So, in 1588, the three-peaked roof had been completed and a provisional wall was constructed. A little later it was occupied by Jesuits who gradually changed the structure into Baroque style, though parts still remain in Gothic style.
The final process of repair and completion took place at the end of the 19th century, under architects J. Mocker and L. Labler.
Originally there were eight radial chapels with trapezoidal interiors. Later on, the choir was constructed, supported by double-arched flying buttresses.
Internal points of note are the glass windows, altars, pulpits and choir stalls. Medieval frescoes depicting the secular life of the medieval mining town and religious themes have been partially preserved.References:
German crusaders known as the Livonian Brothers of the Sword began construction of the Cēsis castle (Wenden) near the hill fort in 1209. When the castle was enlarged and fortified, it served as the residence for the Order's Master from 1237 till 1561, with periodic interruptions. Its ruins are some of the most majestic castle ruins in the Baltic states. Once the most important castle of the Livonian Order, it was the official residence for the masters of the order.
In 1577, during the Livonian War, the garrison destroyed the castle to prevent it from falling into the control of Ivan the Terrible, who was decisively defeated in the Battle of Wenden (1578).
In 1598 it was incorporated into the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Wenden Voivodship was created here. In 1620 Wenden was conquered by Sweden. It was rebuilt afterwards, but was destroyed again in 1703 during the Great Northern War by the Russian army and left in a ruined state. Already from the end of the 16th century, the premises of the Order's castle were adjusted to the requirements of the Cēsis Castle estate. When in 1777 the Cēsis Castle estate was obtained by Count Carl Sievers, he had his new residence house built on the site of the eastern block of the castle, joining its end wall with the fortification tower.
Since 1949, the Cēsis History Museum has been located in this New Castle of the Cēsis Castle estate. The front yard of the New Castle is enclosed by a granary and a stable-coach house, which now houses the Exhibition Hall of the Museum. Beside the granary there is the oldest brewery in Latvia, Cēsu alus darītava, which was built in 1878 during the later Count Sievers' time, but its origins date back to the period of the Livonian Order. Further on, the Cēsis Castle park is situated, which was laid out in 1812. The park has the romantic characteristic of that time, with its winding footpaths, exotic plants, and the waters of the pond reflecting the castle's ruins. Nowadays also one of the towers is open for tourists.