So here’s a good place to confront your mortality. The Church of All Saints Ossuary, aka the Czech bone church, in Sedlec-Kutná Hora, Czech Republic.
The story goes: A Cistercian abbey with underground chapel in Sedlec was founded in 1142. One of Sedlec abbots traveled to Jerusalem in 1278 and brought back a handful of dirt which he scattered in the monastery’s cemetery. With this, the cemetery became known as a Holy Field (oldest in Central Europe), thus it become a very desirable place to be buried. The over-crowded cemetery was expanded during Plague in 1318 (where 30,000 people died), and during the Hussite wars.
Around 1400 a new church was built. It would have an underground chapel to house the bones of those displaced by the building (presumably the mass graves from the plague and war) and those who were simply dug to make room for others. The bones were exhumed by a near blind monk and stacked in and outside the underground chapel.
In 1784 Emperor Joseph II. abolished the monasteries, and the cemetery fell into the hands of the Schwarzenberg family. (That is their coat of arms in bones.) In 1870, the family hired Francis Rint, a Czech builder, to put the piles of bones in order. This is what he created…from the bones of about 40,000 people.
Rint’s masterpiece is the chandelier in the center; it’s constructed with at least one of every bone in the human body and surrounded by four spires of skulls.
Thoughts: Smaller than I expected, but worth the price of admission—60 KC (about 2.50€). Cool to finally see something like this. When we were in Paris, the catacombs flooded. When we in Rome, I was too slutty with my exposed knee caps to get in the Capuchin crypt. Too inappropriate in shorts to see a baby grim reaper constructed of human bones. Think about that for a minute.
M O R E P H O T O S
From Sedlec Ossuary bone church. Shot April 14, 2012. Sedlec-Kutná Hora, Czech Republic
I am ridiculously behind in sorting and posting pics. Years behind. Seriously. Eventually I’ll make notes and galleries for all the places we visited on our trip to Prague, but for now this will due.
A week in Prague in pictures:
In 2012, we’re going Prague, Budapest and Copenhagen. Trying to everything finalized and booked. Couple things have got me really excited.
1. Student Agency Buses. A bright yellow luxury tour bus based in the Czech Republic with free coffee, free wifi, a stewardess. In spite of what the name implies, it’s not only for students (they do get a discount). Granted, not as fast as flying (it is a bus), but get this: You can get on in Dusseldorf or Cologne in the evening and wake up in the heart of Prague the next morning…for only 39€ one way, 69€ round trip. Kids are half price.
Why didn’t I know about this sooner? You can’t fly for that cheap—Ryanair may say 10€ one-way fares but not with their service fees. Plus considering the fact that their “Dusseldorf” and “Cologne” airports are nowhere near those cities, then factoring in additional transportation costs.
We’re not doing the Student Agency on our Prague trip, but I will take this bus somewhere before we leave. They go a lot of other places. Routes are limited because they follow the autobahn. But really, what a great way to see the countryside. And if you can take an overnight and save the cost of a hotel, even better.
2. Opera in Prague. One of the things I want to do before we leave is see an opera. There are two rival companies in Prague. Ticket prices vary based on the performance, but get this: The cheap seats are 100 CZK at one, 110 CZK at the other. That’s a crazy 3.87€ and 4.26€ ($5.06 and $5.56). These are the nosebleeds, and I would like to see one performance in a decent seat. But under six buck to listen to an orchestra for two hours? I’d go every night.
And here’s just a weird thing. Marionettes performing Mozart’s opera Don Giovanni. Not like a little puppet show, it’s full version, two-hour opera. ???