Church of St James
The Church of St James is the oldest stone church in Kutná Hora, and was intended as the spiritual centre of the entire town since its very establishment. Its location and architectural concept also corresponds to this. The church is located in the very heart of the medieval town: the distance to all other churches is approximately the same, which is an expression of the sacral nature of this area. The tower of the Church of St James is thus visible from afar and serves as an important point of orientation for the wider area.
Construction of the church began in the 1330s and its most important donors were the coiners and minters from the neighboring Italian Court. The presbytery was vaulted and held its first church service as early as in 1356. The Sedlec Cistercian monastery had a major influence on the early part of the church‘s construction, both structurally and symbolically. This is also why the church was originally dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Construction work was completed in 1420; Parler's building workshop, at that time already working on the construction of the Cathedral of St Barbara, participated in the later construction stages. The work of this workshop is particularly noticeable in the rich flamboyant tracery used in the large window on the west facade of the church. The original plan, involving the building of two towers, was abandoned during the course of construction, due to the serious problems with the subsoil, already known at that time, which would be unable to bear the load of a second church tower. But the north tower was built to a respectable height of 80 metres, and so the church simply began to be called the “Tall“ church.
In 1410, a separate parish district was established at the High Church, with the church remaining at its centre to this day. However, the Catholic tradition was interrupted for two centuries by the actions of Utraquist priests, who administered the church from 1424 until the end of the Thirty Years‘ War. During this time, the church was placed under the protection of St James.
The church‘s long history has left many unique relics from various periods. The end of the presbytery is decorated with Late Gothic frescoes, with one of the sanctuaries even bearing the oldest surviving inscription in Kutná Hora (1356). The aisle bears preserved frescoes from the mid-15th century, which position distinctly Catholic motifs next to Utraquist symbols, thus uncovering, in an interesting manner, the intricate ideological situation prevailing at that time. Also of interest is the rare predella of the otherwise destroyed main altar from 1515 and, last but not least, a painting of The Holy Trinity by Petr Brandl, which is part of the current altar, built in the Baroque style.
Římskokatolická farnost – arciděkanství Kutná Hora
Infocentrum u chrámu sv. Barbory
Barborská 685, 284 01 Kutná Hora
Tel.: +420 327 515 796
text © PhDr. Helena Štroblová
translation © Lukáš Hendrych