Unusual Place of the Month: Kutna Hora Bone Church

By Nomadic Matt | Published June 15th, 2008

Kutna Hora church in pragueThis church is located in Kutna Hora, a few miles outside of Prague in the Czech Republic. Officially called the Sedlec Ossuary, it is often just referred to as “the bone church,” and contains over 40,000 bones arranged to decorate this Roman Catholic church.

In 1278, the church’s Abbot, Henry, went to the Holy Land. When he returned, he sprinkled some earth from the Holy Land around the church, making it holy too. Because of this, the cemetery in Sedlec became a popular burial site for those in Eastern Europe. After the Plague in the 14th century, thousands of people were buried here and the cemetery had to be enlarged.

Around 1400, a church was built in the center of the cemetery, and the lower chapel was used as an ossuary for the mass graves unearthed during construction. According to legend, a blind monk began the process of stacking the bones in the chapel around 1511.

skulls in the kuta hora bone churchIn 1870, František Rint, a woodcarver, was employed by the Schwarzenberg family, the church’s landowners, to put the piles order. They wanted something symbolic of the impermanence of life and the inability to escape death.

As well as a chandelier, there are strings of skulls and bones hanging from the ceiling, a skull candelabra, a display case showing skulls with wounds inflicted by various medieval weapons, chalices that stand in alcoves, and Mr. Rint’s signature made out of finger bones.

The Kutna Hora Bone church is open 7 days a week year round, except on the 24th and 25th of December. Entry is 40 kc for adults, 20 kc for students, and a photography permit is an extra 30 kc.

comments 10 Comments

Hey there, like the new design! Got your comment on my blog – yep, happy to do an interview – flat out with deadlines this week, but should be fine by Friday so send questions through and I’ll get them to you on the weekend. Cheers, Lara

A friend of mine may be getting in contact with you to talk about your future trips and something about a travel publisher. I don’t know all the details but his name is Knight. Just wanted to let you know!

P.S. Nice new layout.

Hi Nomadic Matt, thanks for visiting my blog.
I’ve added your blog in my blogroll, you can check it now.
Thanks, Have a nice day.

Debo Hobo

Some what creepy but still really fascinating. Are these your photos, have you been?

stunning pics..they still haunt me :)

lakshmi

Interesting place, isn’t it? Nice pics.

paulette

Thanks!
Another one to add to your list of creepy, but fun places, is the Museo de las momias ( mummy museum) in Guanajuato, Mexico. Lots of info online about it!

Chris

Mutter Museum in Philly. Creeptastic.

Jenna

Nice pictures. I’d like to add a correction– Kutna Hora is not a few miles outside of Prague (or in Prague, as the description says on the facebook feed). It’s 80 km east of Prague and is a good train ride to get there. People who might want to visit it should be aware that it’s a full day-trip to go there from Prague. However, the town has lots more to see besides the ossuary (bone church), so it’s really worth a visit.

Pete

Thanks for posting this. People at work thought I was nuts when I told them I went to a church with chandeliers made of bones when I was a kid. Now they see I’m not lying. But they still think I’m nuts!

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