Czech Republic trip day 7 – 26 Nov 2012 – Bones in Kutna Hora (Sedlec Ossuary, Kostnice Bone Church), St Barabara Cathedral, Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption of Our Lady and Saint John the Baptist, Zleby Castle, Caslov.
The bones of about 40,000 dead people were collected and arranged in various ways in a small church an hours drive east of Prague, in the town of Kutna Hora. It is one of the more bizarre things I have seen. Known as the Church of Bones, the Sedlec Ossuary, or Kostnice Bone Church, or similar. The church is called the Church of All Saints, and is in Sedlec – a short distance (by car) from the center of Kutna Hora.
Nearby is the Church or Cathedral of Our Lady (… of the Assumption of Our Lady and Saint John the Baptist is the full name), a UNESCO listed World Heritage Site, but not as strange as the bone church, nor as interesting. Much more spectacular is the St Barbara Cathedral close to the Kutna Hora town center – both the cathedral and the Kutna Hora town center are UNESCO sites … Kutna Hora is actually quite a pleasant town to walk around. There’s also a large abbey with an art exhibition but they locked the doors when they saw me coming, and wouldn’t let me in.
The St Barbara cathedral was spectacular and enormous, perhaps partly because I was the only person inside except for the ticket lady. It looks similar to the St Vitus Cathedral in Prague but more impressive somehow. Both buildings were designed by the same architect. The Prague cathedral took 650 years to complete, the Kutna Hora one 30 years.
Sometimes it’s the unexpected moments that are most memorable. The bone church was morbidly fascinating. The St Barbara Cathedral was awe-inspiring. But …
… after walking around town, I went back past the cathedral looking for a WC. I walked into the cathedral again to ask, and somebody was practicing on the cathedral’s organ. There’s nothing quite like a bit of thunderous organ music to make the inside of an empty cathedral feel enormous, especially when you’re the only one sitting there. Astonishing. It was the highlight of my day.
Went back to Prague past Zleby Castle – a fairy tale castle said the guide book. Under renovation and closed for the season when I got there. The town of Zleby is tiny, I think it would all fit in the courtyard of the castle. It just seems odd, the disparity.
And a brief stop in the town of Caslov, looking for an authentic Czech pizza restaurant for dinner. I found an authentic Czech town square with cobblestones, and went back to Prague for pizza and beer. Sightseeing in late afternoon when it’s dark doesn’t work very well.
964 – The unimposing exterior of the bone church
965 – Entering the bone church. Good grief.
012 – Morbid.
015 – Inside.
019 – Read and …
023 – … survival? Not sure about the dude on the top left.
031 – Now that’s some chandelier!
080 – A shield – bottom right has a bird picking at a head – all made from bones.
119 – The cathedral down the road.
176 – You can walk through the roof which was kind of cool. Like being a kid exploring the attic.
186 – Inside.
234 – St Barbara Cathedral.
252 – View of abbey and Kutna Hora town from the cathedral.
266 – Inside St Barbara Cathedral. I was trying to find a perspective from which to take a photo to give some idea of the cavernous interior. A photo is not the same as the real thing … you’ll just have to go there yourself :).
311 – The organ pipes.
339 – Inside again.
394 – Kutna Hora old town.
397 – A curious thing – maps of Kutna Hora were in the pavement here and there. One of those things that probably seemed like a good idea when it was thought of, but in reality, I’m not sure how practical it was. It looked sort of cool though.
402 – View of cathedral and abbey from town center.
414 – A castle in the middle of town called the Italian Court. It contained a mint for coin production. Kutna Hora had a large silver mine. There is also an interesting mining museum and tour of the mines in Kutna Hora, closed on Mondays. I was there on a Monday :(.
450 – The fairy tale castle at Zleby. No tripod, renovation, and bad position (surrounded by trees) makes it not look very fairy-tale-like but do drop in if you happen to be in the neighbourhood.
453 – Visit New Zealand advertisement in the very small village of Zleby (population about 1,000). I wonder if anyone from Zleby has been to NZ. And I wonder if the small town of Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu in NZ has advertisements to visit the Czech Republic (ok, it’s a hill, not a town, but it’s a real place!). And yes, I often stand in obscure villages in different countries wondering about obscure things :)!
462 – The town of Caslov, ho hum.
475 – Caslov town square. It has more cobblestones than pizza restaurants.