Tuesday we picked up a rental car and headed off into the carefree traffic jams of Prague. Actually, it was not too difficult to navigate, thanks to GPS. I can hardly believe that thirty years ago I drove through Italy and France with only maps and an inflated sense of competence. first stop is Kutna Hora, a medieval town known for its silver mining.
We took a tour of the silver mine, most of it is flooded today, but there is still a passage of about 120 metres that can be accessed.
2pm shift at the silver mine
the miners lives were very hard, and short, only men from around 21 to 40, after which they were considered too old if they survived. “Old” men, women and children washed and sorted the ore, which also contained lead, copper and zinc. At least the miners were relatively well paid, about 5 times the rate of surface workers.
A large part of the profits went to support these institutions.
St Barbara cathedral and Jesuit college
The mine gallery is very narrow and low in places (hard hats required) and this is really just the access, not where the ore was actually mined. Our guide asked us all, at one point, to turn off our lights, and by shielding his own, simulated the effect of candle or oil lamps. Then we experienced something that few modern people will ever see – total darkness.
View of the mine
The whole tour lasted one and a half hours, and included restored and replica medieval machinery, smelting works and mint workers.
Large winch for hauling ore (mostly original)
By the time the tour was finished we had to set off for our sleeping quarters about two hours further south.
The Czech countryside is very beautiful, rolling hills with many villages and a lot of forested areas as well.
Typical scene (don’t ask me where)
One thing I did notice was that many of the small villages have quite large solar panel arrays, set up in a nearby field. I’m not sure if it is because it is hard to connect to a national grid, or is a real move towards sustainable power. At last we arrive at our destination, Pension Otevek.