I first visited this little church in Sedlec (next to Kutna Hora) on a Czech Republic trip back in 1999. I had a Pentax K-1000 and a limited amount of film. The first shot is from that trip. The rest here are from May 2013. The “residents” haven’t changed much, but the number of tourists has gone up significantly. It was lonely and quiet in there back in 1999. Now I even see large groups of school children parading through. It’s still worth visiting. (Read more about it in my Bone Church article)
It’s a rather unassuming little Roman Catholic church in the center of a cemetery. There are two main sections: the upper front section where you buy your ticket, and then the lower area down the stairs where you will find most of the bones and a small chapel.
The skulls in four corners are stacked in a bell shape and a metal crown hangs above each.
It’s a bit like something out of a surreal movie or nightmare.
You can get right up in the faces of the dead, many of whom were sent here by the Plague or 15th century wars. The disturbing fact is you can see the polished areas where curious visitors just felt compelled to touch the skulls.
The man who arranged these bones many years later is František Rint. He put his name on it… “written” in bones.
The family that paid for this work is the Schwarzenbergs and Rint fashioned their family crest.
Skull designs have been worked into the grounds outside, a sort of “skull and crossbones” marks the spot.
Visitors still light candles or say prayers here, so it is not a complete circus sideshow. I’m not sentimental, but it is weird to see cheery tourists in shorts making themselves look pretty next to a pile of skulls before a photo.
But the star of the show is the central chandelier of bones, using at least one of every bone in the human body.
You can read more about Sedlec Ossuary and get directions on how to get there here on The Mad Traveler.
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