Not your average holiday destination, but the Bone Church of Kutna Hora, Czech Republic is easily a great add-on to your Prague visit.
From Prague, you could either take a train or a bus to Kutna Hora. A train ride takes about 90 minutes and bus rides are shorter – I love trains and hence I found myself on one! Arriving at Kutna Hora is like walking back in time. The station itself is old and surroundings bleak, a teaser to what I was going to see.
The Bone Church or Ossuary (Kostnice in Czech) is quite a legend.
In the 13th century, the abbot of Sedlec monastery, upon returning from a visit to the Holy Land with a pocketful of holy soil and sprinkled it here, thus setting off its popularity as a ‘holy site’ for burial. In the mid 14th century, during the Black Death (when plague wiped off a good number of the population) many thousands were buried in the abbey cemetery, so it had to be greatly enlarged.
Later, in the 17th century it became a sought after burial site among the aristocracy because of its direct association with the Holy Land dating back to the 13th century.
Over the years the burials outgrew the available space and the remains were exhumed and stored inside the church. It is said that the church contains over 40,000 remains.
The main area is below ground level (see pic) and contains a large number of skulls and bones. The “chandelier” is creatively made of bones, and is easily the main attraction. As well as the chandelier, there are strings of skulls and bones hanging from the ceiling, skull candelabra, a display case showing skulls with wounds inflicted by various medieval weapons and chalices that stand in alcoves either side of the staircase.
This church is open all week, all through the year except on Dec 24 and 25 – you guess the reason!!
Remember there is an entry fee to this church – while it may not be what you’d think of as a worthy investment, it is a good idea to see this weird attraction. And you can bet your last euro – it is quite crowded all the time!