Travel Thursday – Kutna Hora

Travel Thursday – Kutna Hora

I’m trying very hard to keep up with my normal Monday – Friday blogging schedule, but this week is difficult. Partially there’s not much going on, partially I don’t want to blog about the things most on my mind and partially I just have no motivation for anything right now. I’m doing really well to get to work, take care of the world’s most high maintenance dogs and feed myself. Hopefully next week will be better, but until then here’s a travel post I wrote in happier times.

I have been very fortunate to travel a lot in my life, and one of the places I feel so lucky to have been to multiple times is Prague, CZ.  I’ve been three times and don’t really know how to fit how much I love this city into a simple Travel Tuesday post!  I’ll try another day, but for now I want to share with you a day trip we took from Prague – our jaunt to Kutna Hora.

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Kutna Hora is a quaint town in the Czech Republic, and a reasonable train ride away from Prague.  While Prague is bustling and feels almost as touristy as Paris these days, Kutna Hora is very quiet.  It has the classic medieval feel, with all the buildings built on a hill leading up to a Gothic cathedral.

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What Kutna Hora is really famous for though, is the bone church.

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Officially called Sedlec Ossuary, this small church is one of the most creepily beautiful places in the world.

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Kutna Hora, like many places in Europe, was affected by the plague.  Many citizens died, and as they did… bodies piled up.

These are stacks of skulls, and there are two side rooms like this.
These are stacks of skulls, and there are two side rooms like this.

A monk at Sedlec Ossuary witnessed all this, and began to go slowly crazy from it.  Instead of burning the bodies, he turned the bones into art decorating the church.

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I couldn’t even begin to count the amount of people who died and are now on display.

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It’s haunting, and beautiful…

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and a very weird juxtaposition.

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What do you think of the Bone Church?  Beautiful or a thing of nightmares?

20 thoughts on “Travel Thursday – Kutna Hora

  1. OMG I can’t believe you visited Sedlec! I have read a lot about it and always been fascinated by it… your photos are incredible! Beautiful tribute AND nightmare fuel. Wow. Thank you for sharing this!

  2. I’d never heard of this. Maybe I’d find it pretty in person, but I think it is creepy. :/ Maybe because I’m thinking of someone going through whatever it would take to be able to use the bones. Ick.

  3. I think it is incredibly cool. What a story. What I can’t get over is how pristine/intact it is after all the centuries and turmoil and time. Amazing that it survived.

  4. I was quite surprised by my response to seeing this! I understand that many places like this exist and I really want to think it is beautiful but I don’t think I do. Perhaps, simultaneously beautiful and disrespectful? Lots of mixed feelings. I think my feelings switched because the skeletons/bones are not set out solely for an educational purpose but instead manipulated into designs, which, for me, removes the feeling that this is a memorial. Bone art has existed for thousands of years, and it sure would be quite a sight to behold, but it’s not my thing.

    The most beautiful thing about art is that people have their own tastes and reactions!!

  5. Wow. I’ve never heard of this place. I think that it is both. A nightmare because of how awful it must have been for all those people to die in such a way. And beautiful because I love and sometimes study bones. I can’t get over how many there are. To see that in person must have been really something.

  6. Hey, I’ve been there! I did a summer semester in Prague, and we traveled around the CR quite a bit (even did a week in Slovakia in the High Tatras mountains). I LOVED visiting the bone church–while it was creepy, the creations obviously took some skill and creativity to make. I mean, a gigantic chandelier containing every single bone in the human body, and garlands of skulls? Pretty cool. In fact, when I went to Paris, the first place I visited was the underground crypts! Those are not as impressive as Kutna Hora, though. The place definitely stands on it’s own! (And, IIRC, someone like Marilyn Manson shot a music video there, and…maybe some other movie thing was shot there, too. It has been a while!)

  7. Very cool! Some of the exterior pictures remind me of the Sagrada Familia cathedral in Barcelona. When we were in Peru, we visited some very interesting catacombs in … Lima? Your cathedral looks fascinating!!!

  8. I’m really trying to be all like, “oh, cool! that’s incredible art, what a meaningful way to turn death into something of beauty – what a tribute to all those who died.”

    But in all reality, for me this is the thing of nightmares. I’m so not cool and so not learned enough to appreciate this.

    I do hope it helped the monk and those who lost family and friends.

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