Sedlec Ossuary: over 40,000 human skeletons decorating a church

Our story begins in a small town outside of Prague in the 13th century. An abbot of the local church was sent to Jerusalem to visit the Holy Land. He brought back a handful of soil from Palestine and sprinkled it on the ground around his church. Because of this, the area became a very desirable burial place known throughout Europe – who wouldn’t want to be buried in holy soil? During the time of the 17th century, the amount of bodies being laid to rest there outgrew the cemetery, and eventually the remains were exhumed and stored inside the church. 

According to local legend, there was a half-blind monk who arranged the exhumed bones into beautiful and intricate designs, such as giant pyramids, a crest, chandeliers, and more. According to the facts sheet distributed by the church itself, at the end of the 15th century the cemetery, with an area of 35,000m2, was partially reduced and the bones from abolished graves were moved to the church, hence it became an ossuary (a container or room into which the bones of dead people are placed). 

The bones were decoratively arranged in the 16th century and are a huge and popular tourist attraction to this day.

And when I say ‘intricately designed’ I seriously mean that… The chandelier comprises of almost every bone in the human body. Also, czech out (yes, I went there) that coat of arms!

Kutna Hora1

How to get there: From Prague, the city of Kutna Hora is an hour train ride away. The trains also go pretty often from Prague’s Main Train Station (hl.n.). No need to buy tickets ahead of time, you can buy them from the station right before your train!

Prague hl.n. is super annoying sometimes because it’s really difficult to figure out which platform your train is leaving from, so get there ahead of time and ask someone who works there for help. Most people speak English 🙂 Also note that you can buy a roundtrip ticket, so don’t throw out your stub if you do that! After an hour, you’ll arrive at the main Kutna Hora train station. The train station is not inside the main part of the city, but it’s near the bone church. If you exit the train station, turn right and then left on the main road and keep walking until you see signs for the Sedlec Ossuary. It’s a 15-minute walk from the train station.

After the Ossuary: The city center of Kutna Hora is a short bus ride away. In the city is a great restaurant, Dacicky, that’s very authentic and has amazing Czech food. 
If you walk back down Zamecka street (the way you came from the train station), there’s a bus stop on the corner of Zamecka and Vitezna streets on your left. Wait for the next bus, pay the driver, and get off at the stop called Centrum.

Right now you’re probably thinking yeah, this seems just up Gabriella’s alley, and you’re 100% right. Check out more of my ‘dark tourism‘ posts!

Published by gabriellamikiewicz

Gabriella Mikiewicz is a 20-something Polish-American student and writer whose interests are as eclectic as her apartment decorations.

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