Updated: 12/18/21 | December 18th, 2021
Officially known as the Sedlec Ossuary, the Bone Church is a Roman Catholic chapel located in Kutná Hora, a few miles outside of Prague in the Czech Republic. The chapel is referred to as the “the bone church” for a good reason: it contains over 40,000 bones displayed in various piles and arrangements throughout the small chapel. There are bones on the walls, bones hanging from the ceiling, bones piled in massive heaps, bones used to make a chandelier. Bones, bones, bones!
The church was part of a Cistercian monastery created in 1142, and in 1278, the king sent the church’s abbot, Henry, to Jerusalem. After coming back, he sprinkled some earth from the Holy Land around the church, making it a holy site. After that, the cemetery in Sedlec became a popular burial site for those in Eastern Europe. The cemetery grew exponentially during the 14th-century Black Death, when over 30,000 bodies were buried in mass graves on the site. In the 15th century, 10,000 more dead – war casualties – were buried here.
Over time, there simply wasn’t enough room to bury any more bodies, and the church had to come up with a solution. According to legend, it was around this time, in 1511, that a blind monk began the process of stacking the bones in the chapel.
In 1870, František Rint, a woodcarver, was employed by the church’s landowners to put the piles in some sort of order. They wanted something symbolic of the impermanence of life and the inability to escape death.
Since then, it’s become a popular spot with pilgrims and travelers alike, with over 200,000 visitors arriving each year. What used to be an off-the-beaten-path tourist spot has become one of the most visited attractions in the entire country. Given its proximity to the capital city (1 hour by train), the last few years have loads of bus tours making their way from Prague to the church. It’s become a very busy site.
Kutna Hora is a bit dark and grim. The downstairs chapel is quite small. Just a singular room with bones lined everywhere. You enter down a staircase and boom, there you are! There’s nothing more to explore! It’s all right in front of you. A handout is provided so you know what you’re looking at and includes a history of the church too.
Upstairs, you can see the stark modern church with its beautiful dome and a few displays and photos about the area and the church itself.
If you’re heading to Prague, the Bone Church makes a great half-day trip. There’s really not much to see there. At most, visiting the church takes about an hour.
To make the trip worth it, I also suggest visiting other things in Kutna Hora, a beautiful town that looks like Prague’s historic center – but without all the people there. It was a huge silver mining town in the middle ages and rivaled Prague in its grandeur. Though it’s not as great as it is today, there are still some beautiful buildings, churches, and views around the city to look at it! You only need a few hours.
How to Get to Kutna Hora
Trains depart from Prague’s main train station roughly every hour. The trip takes about an hour and costs around 119 CZK each way. This is the easiest and best way to get to Kutna Hora. You don’t need to purchase your tickets in advance. You can get them the day you want to go. There’s always plenty of room.
The bone church is located at Zámecká 279, +420 326 551 049, sedlec.info. Open 7 days a week, 364 days a year (it’s closed on the 24th of December). Admission is 90 CZK for adults or 60 CZK for students, children, seniors, and disabled individuals. A combination ticket to the ossuary and the cathedral is 120 CZK, or 80 CZK reduced.
Book Your Trip to the Czech Republic: Logistical Tips and Tricks
Book Your Flight
Use Skyscanner or Momondo to find a cheap flight. They are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned. Start with Skyscanner first though because they have the biggest reach!
Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld as they have the biggest inventory and best deals. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels. My favorite places to stay in Prague:
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:
- Safety Wing (for everyone below 70)
- Insure My Trip (for those over 70)
- Medjet (for additional repatriation coverage)
Looking for the Best Companies to Save Money With?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use to save money when I’m on the road. They will save you money when you travel too.
Want More Information on the Czech Republic?
Be sure to visit our robust destination guide on the Czech Republic for even more planning tips!