Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Bone Church

The Bone Church is what everyone goes to Kutná Hora for. The ossuary is actually in Sedlec, a suburb of Kutná Hora, but that’s not important.

The place is pretty macabre. The small, Baroque, 14th century, Roman Catholic chapel is located on a cemetery. It is decorated entirely with human bones. Did I mention that it was macabre?

In 1511, a half-blind monk arranged human bones into pyramids. Later on in 1870, a woodcarver made very unique decorations. They then became a chandelier, crosses, goblets, monstrance and even a coat of arms. In addition, there is a bell-shaped stack of bones in each of the four corners. The artist even signed his name on the wall by the entrance. Of course, he did it in bones. It’s estimated that there are remains from over 40,000 people. All of the bones were disinfected before use.

The chandelier contains at least one of every bone in the human body.

In 1278, the Sedlec abbot was on a diplomatic mission in Jerusalem. When he left, he took a handful of earth from the Holy Land which he sprinkled over the cemetery in Sedlec. It became famous throughout central Europe and lots of wealthy people wanted to be buried here. The place was expanded during the Plague in the 14th century and during Hussite wars in the 15th century. So it’s not like people were killed just in order to decorate the church.

The purpose of the Bone Church is to remind all of us that human life is transient and that death is inevitable.


  1. Did you go see it first thing in your day so you wouldn't run out of time ala moi?