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Church of Bones, Sedlec Ossuary, Kutna Hora.
Church of Bones, this is the popular name for the Sedlec Ossuary. One of the most unusual churches to be found and with an interesting history.
Located in the town of Kutna Hora, about an hours drive from Prague, the Church of Bones is nothing spectacular from the outside, just a plain Gothic building. Upon entering, the sight of more than 40,000 human skeletons decorating the inside of the building, makes it clear why this is one of the most unusual churches in the world.
Sedlec Ossuary has a long history, beginning in the early 13th century when Abbot Henry of the Sedlec Monastery brought a small amount of soil back to Kutna Hora after a journey to the Holy Land in Jerusalem. The “holy soil” was scattered across the Sedlec cemetery, creating its popularity as one of the most desired burial sites for people though out Bohemia and the surrounding countries. More than 30,000 people were buried in what was a handful of the Holy Land.
Before long, there wasn’t enough room for everyone to rest peacefully, and the bodies were moved to a crypt to make room for the newly dead.
In 1870, a local woodcarver, František Rint was employed to arrange the thousands of bones. He created the Church of Bones’ chandelier, as well as a coat of arms for the Schwarzenberg family which it includes a raven pecking at the severed head of a Turk. František Rint was responsible for bleaching all of the bones in the Ossuary. The signature of Rint is visible on a wall – made from bones, of course.
What is an Ossuary?
“An ossuary is a chest, box, building, well, or site made to serve as the final resting place of human skeletal remains. They are frequently used where burial space is scarce. A body is first buried in a temporary grave, then after some years the skeletal remains are removed and placed in an ossuary”. Wikipedia
One of the most fascinating creations inside the Sedlec Ossuary is the imposing chandelier, containing all the bones of a human skeleton.
In addition to the macabre bone chandelier, the Ossuary also displays two large bone chalices, four baroque bone candelabras, six enormous bone pyramids, candle holders made from skulls and bones strung together across the interior like bunting.
Another impressive artwork is the coat of arms of the Schwarzenberg family that is also made of human bones.
This is certainly one of the more bizarre places to visit in Europe. It is macabre, but an intricate part of the history that makes each region so special.
The children were fascinated through out this visit and learnt some history that they may never have encountered in any classroom back in Australia.