07 June 2009

Kutna Hora: The Bone Church

For weeks before we left I kept going to websites (http://www.kostnice.cz/) talking about this Bone Church, but nothing could prepare me for just how STUNNING this place is in person! Here is a brief history from the website:

The cistercian monastery was founded near here in the year 1142. In 1278 King Otakar II of Bohemia sent Henry, the abbot of Sedlec, on a diplomatic mission to the Holy Land. When leaving Jerusalem Henry took with him a handful of earth from Golgotha which he sprinkled over the cemetery of the Sedlec monastery, consequently the cemetery became famous throughout Central Europe and many wealthy people desired to be buried here. The burial ground was enlarged during the epidemics of plague in the 14th century (in 1318 about 30,000 people were buried here) and also during the Hussite wars in first quarter of the 15th. century.

The present arrangement of the bones dates from 1870 and is the work of a Czech wood-carver, FrantiĊĦek RINT and the ossuary contains the remains of about 40,000 people. The largest collections of bones are arranged in the form of bells in the four corners of the chapel.

We left Prague on the first train to Kutna Hora, which took about an hour (or so I'm told, since I was napping per usual, ha!) We walked straight to the Ossuary. The church is surrounded by a small, very beautiful cemetary. Even without the "holy dirt" I can see why people would like to be buried there. Many beautiful flowers were growing in the cemetary One other person was there when we arrived, but he left quickly and for about 30 minutes we had the whole place to ourselves. You walk in and are immediately stuck with just the sheer enormity of the amount of bones. EVERYTHING is bones, from the chandellier to the coat of arms to the wall dressings. I believe these pictures speak for themselves...the pyramids of skulls are over 40 feet tall! Seriously, it's not creepy at all, just so cool! Just as we were leaving, a full bus of Japanese tourists arrived! SOOO GLAD we went early! Imagine how different these pictures could have looked!!!

We left the Bone Church and headed into the main centre of town, which wasn't much more than a big church. This was much more impressive from the outside, but it was so massive it seemed out of place in such a small town. Sorry it's not a better picture, the sun was so bright and the church is positioned on the edge of a big cliff so it's hard to get a good shot!

Although, Kutna Hora is home to Phillip Morris, and they were having a little showcase if you will. Gross. No wonder everyone in Prague smokes so much!

After about 4 hours in Kutna Hora, we headed back to Prague. The perfect morning, which we topped off with some delicious ice cream cones! Our scenery on the way back was great too - these are Canola Oil Seed plants!

1 comment:

Kate said...

Great pictures Kristina - love your stories too! Mom