With a full week to spend in Prague, I had plenty of time for a day trip to see more of the Czech Republic. My destination of choice was the Kutna Hora Bone Church, an unusual attraction famous for its skeletal decorations. Creepy as it might sound, I found the macabre display to be surprisingly beautiful. Make no bones about it, this is a place well worth visiting!
The Sedlec Ossuary, or Church of Bones, is a small chapel that has been bedecked with bones from over 40,000 skeletons – mostly 14th and 15th century victims of plague and war. The bones have been artistically incorporated into the chapel’s decor, with the centerpiece being a large chandelier which reportedly contains at least one of every kind of human bone, from the cranium to the little toe. Skeletal garlands are draped across the ceiling and accented with pelvic bone-and-skull “flowers.” I was also impressed with the intricately gruesome coat of arms of the Schwarzenberg family which commissioned the project.
Equally impressive is the Church of St. Barbara, Kutna Hora’s answer to Prague’s St. Vitus Cathedral and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The church boasts a soaring vaulted ceiling, vibrant stained-glass windows and 15th-century murals depicting local life at the time of painting.
The Church of St. Barbara is located on the far side of town, across a smaller and much less crowded version of the Charles Bridge. From here you can also enjoy sweeping views of Kutna Hora and the surrounding valley.
I enjoyed a simple but tasty lunch at a small restaurant near the church before ambling through the charming city center. I wish I’d had a bit more time to take in some of the other sights, such as the Czech Silver Museum and medieval mine shafts. Back in the 14th century, Kutna Hora was a prosperous mining town until the silver veins ran out. Today, it’s just a well-preserved slice of history with few tourists and ample charm to spare.
You can find the latest schedule and ticket prices for the Prague to Kutna Hora train here. While Sedlec Ossuary is within walking distance of the station, the city center is a few kilometers away and best reached via bus.
Would you like to visit the Kutna Hora Bone Church?
What’s the creepiest place you’ve ever been?