You might have a bone to pick with me as this probably isn’t my most ‘fleshy’ article…
Sedlec Ossuary! Aka the Bone Church of Czech Republic. An hours drive from Prague sitting comfortably in Kutna Hora is estimated to contain the skeletons of around 40,000 to 70,000 people, with many dismembered skeletons being arranged to form artistic decorations of the church, the most famous being the large chandelier which hangs from the ceiling on the ossuary.
History of Sedlec Ossuary
The history of the Bone Church dates way back to the 13th century where an Abbot from the church brought back from Jerusalem a small vile of dirt and sprinkled it on the cemetery grounds surrounding the Chapel of All Saints, this in turn meant that this cemetery was the desired place to be buried throughout central Europe due to it’s association with the holy land. Therefore with the black death occurring in the 14th century and the Bohemian War in the early 15th century the cemetery was overloaded and had to be enlarged.
A church was then built in the centre of the cemetery with the lower chapel being used as an ossuary for the mass graves which had been unearthed because of the construction of the church. As the dirt to bone ratio was lacking a half blind Monk was subsequently given the job to exhume skeletons and stack their bones in the ossuary.
Fast forward 300 years to 1870 when a wood carver by the name of Franktisek Rint decorated the Chapel as how we know it today. Rint was commissioned by the land owners at the time to decorate the chapel with the bones creating famous formations and decorations which grace the walls and ceilings of the ossuary.
Inside Sedlec Ossuary
The most famous decoration being the bone chandelier hanging low from the centre of the building, this chandelier was designed and made with every bone in the human body, there are many skull candle holders, and a family crest which is *spoiler alert* also made with human bones. Draping down from the chandelier towards the candle holders are numerous rows of bones designed to almost look like morbid fairy lights decorating a grand hall.
There is a glass corner cabinet exhibiting a number of skulls with visible bone damage, with one skull having a large chunk wiped out of the cranium, another skull with a small hole which could have been caused by a single bullet and other skulls which at closer inspection looked as though any bone damaged had began healing or healed completely.
I visited Sedlec Ossuary when on my 12 day Eastern Road Contiki, entrance fee was around $5NZD and we spent about an hour here. I was so absorbed by all the decorative bone formations and too focused on seeing how long I could stare at a skull for before I started seeing dead people, that I didn't realise I was the last of our tour group left in the ossuary.
Even if bones, skulls, and non-escapable death are’t really your ‘thing’, I would still greatly advise of the trip if you are visiting Prague or any of the surrounding areas. Having a thousand year old skull stare at you 10cm away from your face is an experience not many people get to talk about, except for the 200,000 thousand people who visit the bone church every year as it is one of the tourist hot spots of Czech Republic. Do I need to mention that the bone church is in my top 5 most interesting places visited in Eastern Europe?
Do Eastern European countries interest you? Check out what you can do in just 24 hours in Mostar, Bosnia & Herzegovina!