Kutna Hora Ossuary
Last month, my wonderful sons, James and Richard, took me to Prague for my birthday. For all of us, it was a special trip to spend some time together and the added bonus was that none of us had visited Prague before.
It is a truly stunning city with many impressive beautiful buildings that survived the second World War. This is mainly because Prague was occupied by the Germans and so was never bombed.
One of the highlights of the visit was being able to go to Kutna Hora, about an hour outside of Prague, to visit the famous Ossuary. All three of us have always been fascinated with the story of the Ossuary and were excited to have the chance to see it for real.
It is in the Roman Catholic Chapel near the Church of All Saints in Sedlec, near Kutna Hora.The Ossuary came about because way back in 1278, Henry, an Abbot from the Cisteria Monastery in Sedlec, was sent to the Holy Land by King Otakar II of Bohemia.
When he returned, he brought back a small amount of earth that he had taken from Golgotha. Henry sprinkled this earth over the Abbey cemetery and this caused a rush of people from Central Europe who wanted to be buried there.
By the mid 14th Century to the early 15th Century, due to the Black Death and the Hussite Wars, there were many thousands buried in the cemetery, and it had to be enlarged. But also, a Gothic church had been built in the centre of the cemetery with a vaulted upper level. The decision was made to use the lower chapel as an Ossuary for all the mass graves that had been unearthed during the building of the new church. A half blind monk was given the task of exhuming all these skeletons.
Later, around 1703-1710, work was done on the chapel due to a leaning wall, and this work was done by Jan Santini Aichel. He chose to use the Czech Baroque style to complete his work.
Then in 1870, a woodcarver known as Frantisek Rint, was given the difficult task of creating some sort of order with all the bones from the thousands of bodies in the chapel. It took him almost three years to complete his work, and as you will see from my photos, it is quite incredible.
The centerpiece to the chapel is a chandelier that has used every bone from the human body, and the Schwarzenberg coat of arms, and the signature by Rint, again, uses just human bones. It is thought that the chapel contains the bones from anywhere between 40-70,000 bodies so there was a huge amount of work to be done.
I found the chapel truly fascinating, as so did James and Richard. Some of you may find it macabre, but I am sure you will agree that it is an amazing creation. This little chapel has more than 200,000 visitors a year and I am sure everyone goes away, as we did, with a memory of something they will never forget. Be sure to scroll down to see more amazing photos.
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