A morbid day in Prague

Last minute some of us decided we wanted to see the Kutna Hora bone church. So in the morning we made our way to one of the tour company offices. It was a tiny office in a big building that obviously doesn’t usually get visitors. Luckily the friendly employees wanted to help us anyway. Their tour for the day was full, but they booked us into a competitor’s tour. We still had a few hours to wander around Prague and made our way to the Jewish cemetary. After wandering around the over-crowded graveyard and a quick stop in the Spanish synagogue we rushed back to the hotel.

When the tour started it turned out they were now overbooked. They had only expected three of us, not four. And this is how I managed to kick a whole family of 6 off the tour van. They did get offered a tour the next day and a free tour around the city for that afternoon. Awkward… The trip to Kutna Hora was pretty far, but eventually we made it to the ossuary in Sedlec. This cemetary became super popular because one upon a time someone brought holy earth from Golgotha and sprinkled it on the cemetary. Now also considered holy, it became a popular place for the dead.


Eventually there were so many graves that a lot of them were exhumed and their bones collected in an ossuary. For years this was just a big pile of bones, until an artist was send over to make something out of it. So now bones of 40.000 people are neatly organised in decorative piles and chandeliers. The photos I’d seen looked pretty good, but in real life it is a bit of a morbid and eery sight. I’m staring at one of the piles of bones thinking how many mothers, grandfathers, neighbours and friends are in there. These were all people and now they are mainly a tourist attraction.

The artist has made a chandelier that consists of all bones in the human body. There is also a big bone coat of arms of the Schwarzenberg family. He has even spelled his name out of bones, so nobody would forget who made the human masterpiece. We all exited the ossuary in silence, not sure how to comment on this. The town of Kutna Hora was a little drive further and by then we’d woken up a little bit again. It seemed like it was a ghost town. Apparently the people live further out of the center and leave the center for the tourists. There was no atmosphere, no soul. It was as if this was all buried with those 40.000 bones.

We looked at a cathedral. It had been built because the proud people of Kutna Hora wanted to be just as good as Prague. Prague got St. Vitus, so they got this cathedral. It wasn’t all that impressive. Walking around town there were some beautiful buildings, but nothing particularly interesting. The lack of people made it a sad experience. Even our guide couldn’t make this place any more interesting. Kutna Hora is a place that is visited by tourists daytripping from Prague every day. But why? A big pile of bones is all you get.



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