I love the start of a group tour…everyone loitering around the bus with their bags, excitedly making chitchat about who they are and where they’re from. Within 10 minutes of arriving at the Busabout meeting point in Prague, I’d already introduced myself to fellow travellers from Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Ireland! Meeting new people from all over the world is one of the many reasons I’m a big fan of bus tours, and this particular group of individuals did not disappoint.
My friend and I had spent the previous day exploring Prague alone, and while we had an excellent time seeing the sights, we were looking forward heading off with our new ‘bus friends’. After a quick introduction from our tour guide Adam (also a keen bus rapping entertainer), we set off for our first destination together…Kutna Hora.
Situated in the Central Bohemian region of the Czech Republic, Kutna Hora is an UNESCO listed city with plenty to offer the inquisitive traveller, including the spectacular St Barbara Church. However, our main reason for the visit was not to see the city as such, but instead to see something a little more unusual…
When I first saw this attraction listed on our itinerary, I was instantly enthralled! It’s not something I would have planned to do myself (another reason why I love bus tours), but seeing the name of this attraction sent exciting shivers down my spine! And what was this unusual attraction I hear you ask…? A Human Bone Church of course!
I mean, what an earth is a Human Bone Church and why is there such a thing? It’s sounded extremely creepy to me, but creepy in a good way I guess. I tried not to do any research before the visit as I felt my curiosity added to the overall excitement of the mysterious Bone Church. As we walked up the road, I could see a small Chapel straight ahead…Is this is? It’s not made of bones?!…I was starting to regret my unnecessary excitement. Little did I know, all the Human Bone fun took place inside the Chapel.
The Roman Catholic Chapel at the top of the street was called Sedlec Ossuary, and while it was nothing special from the outside, it soon became clear to us why it’s so famous. With an estimated 40,000 to 70,000 skeletons contained within the Chapel’s walls, it’s no wonder hundreds of thousands of people visit this site every year. And no, they’re not just casually slung into a pile in the corner; they’re artistically arranged into decorations covering the entire interior of the Chapel. From bone chandeliers to a coat-of-arms made of bones, this is one seriously eerie and mystifying place to visit.
The history of the bone decorating dates back to the 13th Century when King Otakar II of Bohemia sent the abbot of the monastery to the Holy Land. When the abbot returned, he brought with him a small amount of earth from Golgotha and sprinkled it over the abbey cemetery turning it into an extremely popular burial site throughout Central Europe – hence why it’s home to 40-70,000 skeletons!
In the 1400s, the gothic chapel was built and with it a tonne of graves were unearthed. I can only assume that at the time, the only suitable way to deal with this problem of excess bones was to decorate the Chapel. This genius plan of course led to the Bone Church that stands there today.
It truly is an absolutely fascinating place and well worth a quick visit if you ever find yourself in the area. Even if ghoulish skulls and bones aren’t your cup of tea, I would still recommend you pay a visit…where else will you find a striking human bone chandelier?! A once in a lifetime opportunity if you ask me!
After a morning of unusual sightseeing at the Bone Church, we moved swiftly on to lunch (an excellent transition I thought) then on to our next destination, the Moravian Capital of Olomouc!
What’s the most unusual place you’v ever visited? Is the Bone Church in Kutna Hora top of your sightseeing list for the Czech Republic? Let me know using the comments box below!