Snapshot – Ossuary at Sedlec

Hmm. I feel it only fair to warn my readers that this blog post may contain images that some might find disturbing. I myself don’t have any issue with what I’m about to show you, I think it’s one of the most fascinating places I have ever visited and I hope that you can put aside any queasiness and just be amazed at the spectacle. I first came across this place while watching a travel show many years ago, so long ago that I could only remember the sight of it not where it was or what it was. Fast forward to August 2016, I’ve arrived in the Czech Republic, specifically Prague, and I’m talking to my guide about things to do while I’m here. A visit to the town of Kutna Hora, located outside Prague is mentioned. Why? Because of the Bone Church …

The morning after arriving in Prague, my travel companions and I set out via train to Kutna Hora. Technically, via two trains and we need to change at a platform literally in the middle of nowhere to get to the village. Kutna Hora itself is a pretty, quaint village with a lively town square. Both it and it’s suburb of Sedlec are World Heritage listed. There are a number of beautiful churches of interest in the town, the 14th century Gothic Church of St Barbara, with it’s high vaulted ceilings and huge stained glass windows, is one. The rather austere St James Church, with its paintings, is another. But after visiting those,  we hopped a taxi to the suburb of Sedlec to see the Ossuary, or Church of Bones. From the outside, it’s rather bland and nondescript. It looks pretty small too. The site became a popular burial ground in the 13th century after an abbot returned from the Holy Land with soil. Eventually, it was decided to build a church on the site and so the bodies of some 40,000 people had to be exhumed to make room. In the mid-1800’s the skeletons of those exhumed were “arranged” as you see today … the interior of the church has been decorated by them, everything from the chandelier to the very elaborate coat of arms of the Schwarzenberg family (an aristocratic family of German and Czech heritage who commissioned the bone display). I think it fair to say that this place is seriously unique. Yes, I’ve been to the catacombs of other European cities but truly … can any compare to this most bizarre and elaborate (some may say macabre) church in the Czech Republic?

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This post is part of my contribution to the April 2017 A-Z Challenge

For a list and links to my other challenge posts click here

For those interested in revisiting my 2016 challenge post for O, here’s the link: Snapshot – Okavango Delta

2017 Badge

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36 thoughts on “Snapshot – Ossuary at Sedlec”

  1. Omg! You visited this church! Haha! I remember reading about it somewhere on the internet. When you said squeamish at the start of the post you got be all the more interested. lol! Beautiful captures of the umm…underworld? I love (virtually) travelling with you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha! Underworld is actually a great description because when you enter the church you head immediately down a flight of stairs. So yeah, it’s an underground church. I can’t tell you how excited I was when I found out this place was so close by and I’d finally get to see it. It’s just so fascinating!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. That coat of arms is fantastic. I can’t help but think of Sam Raimi’s Army of Darkness when I read this and see the photos. And that tonme is a classic

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh! You are so right. This would be right at home in Army of Darkness lol πŸ˜„ The coat of arms is amazing, so clever really. There’s lots of individual skulls around that are fascinating too though, particularly ones with “damage” … you feel yourself going all forensic looking at them.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow that is something special, as much as I can see it freaking out some people if in a few thousand years after I’d died someone wanted to make use of me as a decoration I’d be all for that, so interesting πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I didn’t find it creepy. I just found it really interesting. And I love finding places like this that are so different. Personally, I’ll choose to be cremated and scattered … so I guess I’ll be travelling on the wind one day πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s certainly not going to be somewhere everybody would feel comfortable visiting. I think it also challenges some people when it comes to whether it’s respectful or not. I think the one thing everyone would agree on … it’s definitely unusual.
      Thanks for commenting, Suzy. Much appreciated πŸ™‚

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  4. This church is fabulous and I so want to visit now. Thanks for sharing this Kim as I’d never heard of it and I’m always looking for the slightly odd and macabre when it comes to burial sites. What an amazing thing to do with the people they exhumed – much better than just disposing of them unceremoniously.

    Pamela @ Highlands Days of Fun

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re welcome, Pamela! Thanks for commenting πŸ™‚ It sounds like the Bone Church would be something you’d enjoy a visit to. Like yourself, I’m a bit of a fan of the macabre and bizarre … Sedlec Ossuary definitely ticks those boxes.

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  5. Very interesting and unique. Now that you show it, I might have seen or read about this somewhere before as well. It does remind me of the Killing Fields in Cambodia, though. There are not too many places where human skulls and bones are on display.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re right, Liesbet. Pretty similar in Cambodia, just not as elaborate. And very few places where human remains are displayed. I think one of the strangest displays I saw was a travelling exhibition here at home about plastination. That was certainly unusual.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Normally, I’m a pretty squeamish person, but this didn’t bother me at all. It seemed like a way of honoring the dead. The things that bother me are watching someone (human or otherwise) suffering. And blood, of course. I hate blood…
    Thanks for sharing this post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re welcome, Ann. Thanks for your comments, as always. Suffering is always distressing to watch, I struggle with that as well. The idea of the Bone Church honouring the dead with the display is a good way of looking at it too.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I didn’t know about this one – but have visited a bone church – or chapel – in Rome and, like you, found it absolutely fascinating. This is actually quite beautiful. A bit odd, yes, but beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I’ve seen some similar things elsewhere in Europe. This place was just so different in regards to just how elaborate the display is though. Beautiful is an apt description – this is quite artistic in its design.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. But I understand your warning before posting. Whenever I bring up my awe of the bone chapel I’m never sure what the reception is going to be. Fascination/interest or “the look” like I’m just a bit off for thinking that’s beautiful.

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