The original post I wrote about my trip to Kutná Hora. was one of my earliest attempts at blogging. Frankly, it was a bit rubbish. I didn’t really know anything about blogging back then, other than that I fancied a crack at it.

I’m no expert now, but I know a bit more than I did. I feel like so many aspects of my life could be summed up by that one little phrase. But, staying on topic…

The so called ‘Bone Church’ fascinates me as much now as it did when I originally visited in 2017. It makes a great day trip from the beautiful Czech Capital of Prague, a city to which some of you might be thinking of heading for a winter city break or to visit the Christmas markets. I hope you enjoy this new and shiny version of an old post.

Kutna Hora- Where Is It and What Is There?

Located about 30 miles east of Prague, the town of Kutná Hora once rivalled Prague in terms of wealth and importance. Built on the silver mining industry, it was home to Wenceslas II’s royal mint producing silver coins.

Sadly, the high living didn’t last. The decline of the mining industry along with several wars, ransacking’s, fire and a bit of plague left the town impoverished. The fortunes of Kutná Hora waxed and waned until the 1990’s, when the town centre was granted Unesco World Heritage Site status.

Image courtesy of Sedlec Ossuary

Now visitors head into town for the pretty town centre, the history and to visit what is possibly the towns best-known attraction: the Sedlec Ossuary, also known as The Bone Church.

Sedlec Ossuary-The History Bit

Sedlec is one of the oldest districts of Kutná Hora, a town that has been a place of great religious significance for thousands of years. The story goes that in 1278, a handful of earth from the Holy Land was brought to Sedlec and sprinkled in the cemetery here. This made it quite the desirable place to be laid to rest.

The exclusivity fell away somewhat as outbreaks of war and disease led to an influx of burials. Too many burials. So many bones, limited space. Time to get creative. The Church of All Saints was built, with an upper chapel and an underground Ossuary.

Bone Church , sedlec ossuary, Kutná Hora
Image courtesy of Sedlec Ossuary

The bones weren’t just cleaned and stored here, they were crafted into garlands, pyramids and even a chandelier.

The Bone Church, Kutná Hora

There are various theories about how and why the bones came to be arranged as they are. It happened over time; records show that bones were already being decoratively arranged in the 16th century. Legend has it these early efforts were the work of a half blind monk who regained his sight after working in the ossuary.

Image courtesy of Sedlec Ossuary

The present-day structure of the bones is really down to the Schwarzenburg family, and it’s thanks to their patronage that the Sedlec Ossuary survived. In 1870 they commissioned a Czech woodcarver by the name of Frantisek Rint to give the place a bit of a makeover, and he went to town with it.

He created the magnificent chandelier, which contains each bone of the human body. He also built the Schwarzenburg coat-of-arms in bones, which depicts a bird pecking out the eye of an invading soldier. Suitably macabre, given the medium.

Image my own.

Rint took pride in his work and made sure he would be credited for it; if you look carefully, you’ll spot the name Rint spelled out in bones inside the church.

Visit with An Open Mind

The church is beautiful, the history fascinating and the medium unusual. But I can appreciate that some readers might be thinking; this isn’t for me. But if you’re in the area or looking for a day trip from Prague, I’d urge you to visit and go with an open mind.

The overall tone of the place is tranquil and intriguing, rather than dark. There is a beauty to it, with candles lit and coins left by visitors glinting in the flickering light. I suspect the atmosphere might feel a more haunting if you manage to visit at a quiet time but given that the chapel is small and its reputation large, this might be tricky.

Image courtesy of Sedlec Ossuary

If you want a real experience out of your visit, it is possible to book a night tour by candlelight of the Ossuary and Sedlec Cathedral with a guide dressed as a Cistercian monk or nun. I reckon that would charge up both the atmosphere and imagination.

Getting There & Getting In

By car, it’s just over an hour’s drive to Kutná Hora.

The train from Prague to Kutná Hora also takes around an hour, be aware that not all trains are direct. The Sedlec Ossuary is located about a twenty-minute walk from the main station. A standard adult return ticket is currently about 244 CZK, or around £9.

Standard adult entry to the Ossuary is 160 CZK, or about £5. Find information on the Ossuary and other religious sites of Sedlec here.

Helen x

29 thoughts

  1. Wow that looks such an atmospheric place, though quite beautiful too. I guess it’s even busier at this time of year! X

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      Yes, I’d think so- Prague will be busy too. These beautifully Gothic places lend themselves beautifully to spooky season!

  2. If in the area, I’d certainly visit this church, macabre as it seems. I’ll pass on the night tour though.

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      I’m not sure about the night tour myself, although for some reason I find the idea of being led about by a monk the most unsettling thing. Think I’ve been watching too many low budget spooky films 😆

  3. lindseydelossantos says:

    I appreciate your transparency right from the start of your post! We are all on a journey and that is often humbling. You seem to be doing amazing. I had no idea what to expect of the Bone Church and find it very intriguing. Church or faith is a big part of my life so this post caught my eye. There is always a story to be told. Thank you for sharing this.

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      Thanks so much for talking the time to read and leave such a lovely comment. I loved the story behind the church- first impressions can make it seem a bit dark but the arrangement of the bones was really about caring for those who had passed.

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      It’s definitely one of those church visits that has stayed with me!

  4. Just in time for Halloween 🙂 I didn’t see your original post, but this is a cracker. Love it!

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      Thanks so much! And yes, definitely in keeping with the whole spooky season atmosphere.

  5. I’ve been to Prague twice and never even heard of that place. It sounds very interesting, I’ll check it out next time I’m in Prague 🙂

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      Definitely! It’s worth venturing out of the city, there’s some fabulous places withing day trip distance.

  6. Ooh a night tour would be so atmospheric. I didn’t know anything about this place but will remember it for a future trip to Prague. Thanks Helen for bringing it to our attention.

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      I’m glad to be able to share, thanks for your interest in my updated post Marion.

  7. Maybe I’m just caught up in the spirit of the Halloween season, but I would so love to take that night time tour. For sure, that would get the imagination flowing and the blood pumping.

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      It would make a great Halloween themed night out- plenty of good Czech beer to steady the nerves before and/or after too!

  8. NattyTravels says:

    What a weird, wonderful, and unique place! If I ever go to the Czech Republic, I would most certainly love to visit. It looks so intriguing.

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      It’s a fabulous place, I hope you make the trip one day.

  9. Weird and wonderful really sums it up. I find the place fascinating, and though I wouldn’t usually consider booking a tour with a costumed guide, the idea of a candlelit night amble through the church sounds very atmospheric. I feel the same way about my earliest posts, and have reworked many this year. I have not read your original post, but have utterly enjoyed this one!

  10. Oh my goodness it really is weird – but kind of also beautiful. It reminds me a little of the Hill of Crosses in Lithuania – just like this amazing crazy place you can’t help but like. A perfect Halloween post 🙂

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      Yes! I remember your post about the Hill of Crosses, it’s somewhere I’d love to go. I like the places that make you stop and think.

  11. Oh wow, I had no idea such a place existed and it seems at the same time creepy and fascinating! The night tour by candlelight also sounds absolutely amazing! Are all of those real bones from dead bodies? Thanks for sharing!

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      Yes, all the bones are from people buried in the church grounds over time. They ran out of space so they got creative! Thanks for taking an interest in my post, I really appreciate it,

  12. Ohh Helen, I want to go there so much!!! Thank you for providing me with the information! Your photsos in instagram from this trip were also amazing! I will keep following your adventures! Cheers!

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      Thanks Sandra- I will trade you trips. You go to the Bone Church and I’ll go to the beach in Germany. Loved your pictures with that gorgeous dog of yours at the seaside.

  13. I had never heard of this place. It is so beautiful and scary at the same time.

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      It is beautiful in its own way, isn’t it? I thought it might feel unnerving but it was actually quite a tranquil place. Thank you for taking an interest in my post about Sedlec Ossuary, appreciate it!

  14. Louise Jayne says:

    What a fascinating place! I’ll definitely keep it in mind whenever I make it to Prague.

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