Blogger note: I’m still out of internet access, so if you are in moderation, I’m sorry, but I can’t “free” you for a while yet.
I should not have gotten the creeps at Kutna Hora. It’s a lovely old mining town with an amazing parish church – St. Barbara’s – and a nice cathedral. The old town is a bit vertical but well preserved, and the place has a lot of fascinating history. The day started sunny, a few showers rolled though, then the sun returned. But still…The odd feeling began inside St. Barbara’s. The church dominates the town, and belonged to the town, not the diosces. St. Barbara is one of the patrons of miners, and watches over those who work with explosives and are at risk of sudden death. She is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers invoked for healing and in times of dire emergency (thus the German name “The Fourteen Emergency Saints’). The church is world famous for the ornate roof line and the fan vaulting inside. The Bohemian Gothic went different directions from most, and in some ways nods to the English high Gothic and fan vaulting.
So far so good, but something inside the church felt a tiny bit off. When I got upstairs and poked around the bits and pieces of sculpture there for restoration, my hackles really went off, and one piece, originally painted red, made me back away and rejoin the group. Downstairs, I started looking at the capitols on the columns and found a green man, but also something else that I still can’t quite pin down. It felt good to get back out in the sunshine.
It was later, after visiting the mint museum, when Mom and Dad and I wandered off from the main group that it really struck me. We poked around the cathedral, then drifted out to look over the cliff down to the railroad and the old stream and walking trail, then up at St. Barbara’s. Something felt off. Was it the weather, my imagination, the setting, yes? I can’t say, but I just got a really disconcerting feeling of being watched, and of not wanting to go down to walk below St. Barbara’s hill.
To this day I don’t know what bothered me. But something did, enough so that as I type this, I can clearly see in my mind’s eye the valley, St. Barbara’s, and the town in between. I can feel the cold, damp metal of the overlook railing under my hand, and smell the wet and the damp plants. Clouds drift overhead, grey and white. Something… Something… The cathedral felt empty and cold, but not like the miners’ church. More something disused and left, hollow. Not malignant, or potentially malignant.
Kutna Hora should not have done that to me. There’s no grim history, no massacres, nothing like Kalkrise or other battlefields. Just… a presence, cold, watching.