This trip starts on Wednesday at 2:30 PM at the Cultural Center.
The cave system - one of the oldest known in the Moravian Karst - was first colonised around 15,000 BC. In more recent times it was described in a document of 1609 and exploration began. The caves were used as mines for phosphate clays.
During the war Nazis used the caves as an underground factory making airplane engines. In the cold war era it was a fall-out shelter and secret underground base for the Czechoslovak and later Czech Republic army. The area was strictly classified until 2001.
In those days the caves were heated by a coal boiler.
Today they are occasionally used for concerts ... and weddings! You can visit a cave of “Dragons and Unicorns”, a bear cave and a cave inhabited by prehistoric man.
Legend has it that Saints Cyril and Methodius (the missionary
brothers who brought Christianity to the Slavs and devised what we now
call Cyrillic script) baptised people here. Thus it became one of the
oldest pilgrimage sites. Oral tradition further credits the place with
an appearance of the Virgin Mary of Křtiny in 1210 among the blossom
from a horse chestnut tree.
Smaller churches on the spot were replaced in the 18th century by a complex nicknamed the Pearl of Moravia. Jan Santini-Aichel built this beautiful baroque church. It has none of the gloom of many cathedrals, but is light and packed with paintings. For many on pilgrimage the main feature is a Gothic statue of the Virgin Mary of Křtiny.
Other attractions include a remarkable automated carillon.
In the crypt below the church is a vast ossuary where a special discovery was made in the early 1990s: twelve skulls painted with laurel wreaths and the letter T.
The trip ends again in hotel Sladovna in
Černá Hora with dinner and social evening.
Pictures: Wikimedia Commons - Wolfgang Sauber and Kirk