I’ve been to many interesting and unique places of worship and cemeteries, but I have to say the ossuary popularly known as the Bone Church in the small town of Kutna Hora, about an hour’s journey from Prague, is one of the most bizarre. It is well known and receives about 200,000 visitors a year.
Being a fan of the macabre, I just had to go there. And since it is so darn unique, I drug Tigger along.
“But I’m tired of seeing churches!”
“Yes, I know, but this church is basically made from bones. There are skulls and stuff everywhere. You won’t see anything else like it anywhere else in the world.”
Begrudgingly, he consented. A promise of hot chocolate may have been mentioned.
Rather than take one of the many tours offered all over the historic section in Prague, we hopped on the train. The ossuary is in the area known as Sedlec, and I was grateful for the Google Maps app because the signage after we got off the bus was not helpful in finding the bone chapel.
Of course, Google isn’t without its own challenges, and there may have also been a few choice words uttered rather loudly as the app had us going in circles for the hundredth time yet again.
As we approached the small chapel, winter’s denuded trees helped create a Halloweenesque creepiness.
As soon as we entered the chapel, Tigger was glad he had joined me. Even though he hadn’t had his hot chocolate yet.
One immediately gets the sense that someone had a really interesting sense of humor. Or they had issues. The job of organizing the bones most recently fell to a woodcarver in 1870. Who knows if some of these interesting designs should be credited to him or the half-blind monk who had been assigned to exhume skeletons in the early 16th century.
It was either art or an interesting obsession, but either way it’s a fascinating experience to walk around the small building. Normally an interior this small wouldn’t take much time to go through, but the intricate displays require you to slow down and look closely so as not to miss anything.
Tigger ended up really enjoying checking it all out. He found it to be quite interesting but doesn’t recommend bringing your 5-year-old “unless you just really want to be mean and scare the crap out of them.”
Tips for Visiting Kutna Hora
At the ossuary, you have the option of paying for a hop on/hop off shuttle to take you to some of the other sites in the area, including a stop at the train station. You might want to really consider it. The bus system in town can be a little confusing, and there are some sites you may want to check out (keep reading).
Having said that, it really isn’t a huge city. You can easily walk from the ossuary to the historic section where most of the interesting areas are located. We visited everything on foot, but by the time we were done and were sitting around waiting for a bus back to the train station, which doesn’t pass very often (at least not this particular line), I wished we had just forked over the extra money for the shuttle.
It was also cold that day which probably does affect my advice.
The bone church is open daily, except on December 24th. Their website is a good place to check hours and fees. Admission was 90 CZK (about $4.25 USD) for adults. They list months using Roman numerals for some reason.
The historic center and the Church of St. Barbara, and everything in between, are UNESCO Heritage sites. While the historic area is fairly typical of other similar areas in Czech, the Church of St. Barbara and the walk there are really worth the effort.
Would you visit the bone church in Kutna Hora?