Sunday, March 8, 2015
Full disclosure: I kind of like morbid things. Of course it kind of depends on the situation, but if I can get a little macabre in my day, so much the better. When K and I were planning our trip last fall, I found some info on this chapel called The Sedlec Ossuary, or the Bone Church, because the entire thing was decorated in human bones. Whaaat? I immediately used this information as a discussion post for one of my history classes, and researched how to get there when we arrived in the Czech Republic.
The Bone Church has a pretty cool history. In the 13th century, a monk from Sedlec went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and brought back a small jar of dirt which he sprinkled on the cemetery ground. After news of this got around, people from all over wanted to be buried there, as they'd officially be counted as laid to rest in holy ground. The plagues hit, and the cemetery had to be expanded and expanded again, with bodies being buried in layers on top of one another. There just wasn't enough room. Finally, many of the bones were removed and placed in the basement of the chapel, where they stayed until 1870 when the Schwarzenburg family, who now owned the land, hired a woodcarver named Frantisek Rint to arrange the bones artistically. He ran with that instruction, and now the ossuary is an oddity all on its own.
K and I signed up for a tour group to visit Kutná Hora, but it must be said that this trip could easily be made on your own. Our tour was fine, but nothing too thrilling, and our cute, but kind of inept, guide almost made us miss our train. Both ways. (Whoops). The Bone Church actually ended up being my least favorite part of the day when compared to St. Barbara's Cathedral and the beautiful little town itself. The ossuary itself is almost like an amusement parks full of snapping cameras and tourists, which kind of makes my stomach turn at the lack of respect, despite the fact that I am part of that same crowd. But the rest of the town oozes authenticity in the way communities can the further you get into the country. And St. Barbara's Church is a stunning work of art that I didn't even know to expect. We were able to pay another 10 CZK to go upstairs to the triforium and it was super cool to be on the upper level of a cathedral. It's a whole new perspective that you can't really imagine from the ground.
While the rest of the group went to an expensive dinner at a prearranged restaurant, K and I went to the tiniest cafe known to man, each got a hot chocolate and did a little exploring on our own as the sun went down. The proprietor of this cafe seemed like he was on a date with the woman in the shop with him, and the four of us laughed together as we danced around the cramped little corner and she tried making our drinks for us.
After we ran for our train back to Prague, we got some drinks with the other youths on our tour and bought some really expensive ham from the Christmas market. Then back to our hostel for some rest and Lord of the Rings. Up next: Bruges!