Kutna Hora: Bohemian Bones
All over Europe, you'll see amazing churches, monasteries, and cathedrals, each more beautiful and ornate than the previous- but how many are truly unforgettable? Head to Kunta Hora, and you'll be sure to find something unique to "Czech out".
Back in the 13th century, Kutna Hora was the place to be! Centrally located in the region of Bohemia, this city was a hub for culture, very lucrative silver mining, and in a constant battle with big-brother Prague as to who was #1. To simplify things: Kutna Hora had the silver, Prague had the king (read more about our adventures in Prague here). The city is lined with Czech Republic's trademark gothic architecture and anchored by the stunning UNESCO World Heritage site, Saint Barbara's Church. Even this beautiful cathedral is true to the city's silver mining heritage. Because construction passed hands many times due to variances in the prosperity of the silver mines, the cathedral took on baroque style influences- truly unique! It's also important to note that St. Barbara is the Patron Saint of miners. Unfortunately for Kutna Hora, the silver supply was exhausted, leaving Prague to officially steal the spotlight.
After a stroll around Kutna Hora, we went to lunch at an adorable restaurant for a traditional Czech lunch: DAČICKÝ ~ stylová staročeská restaurace v Kutné Hoře. No idea how to pronounce it, but it was good! A hearty meal plus a flight of traditional Czech beer types had us refueled and ready to hit our next spot!
Kutna Hora effortlessly blends into it's neighboring suburb of Sedlec, which houses the infamous Sedlec Ossuary. This small (actually tiny) Roman Catholic chapel is known for being decorated with thousands of human bones. It is estimated that between forty to seventy THOUSAND (70,000) bones have been meticulously (and artistically) arranged inside. What did I really dig? (yes, more puns)
#1 The knee bone's connected to the thigh bone...
Centered in the room, an enchanting chandelier, containing at least one of every bone in the human body. That's over 200 different bones. Check out the skull garland. SO Creepy!
#2 Family Heritage
On one wall rests a bone-clad coat of arms, representing the House of Schwarzenberg. František Rint, AKA wood carver turned macabre interior designer is the mastermind behind the Ossuary decor. He was employed by the Shwarzenberg family (think: the Kennedy's of Bohemia), talk about the ultimate shout out!
#3 Finding willing participants
Back in the 13th century, the King of Bohemia requested the abbot of the monastery to make a road trip (I assume he was a wanderluster, too) to the Holy Land. The abbot brought back a handful of dirt from Golgotha, and sprinkled it throughout the abbey cemetery. When word of this spread throughout Europe, people were (literally) dying to be buried here (on a roll with the puns). As the black plague and the Hussite wars swept through, there was no shortage of death and bodies, so the abbey cemetery was greatly expanded to accommodate. A church was later added to the cemetery, causing the mass graves to be exhumed, bodies sorted, and a new artistic medium was created.
Typically I fancy very large, glamorous, and ornate churches but this ossuary is anything but. It's hauntingly beautiful and unfortunately photos just don't do it justice, which means you will have to add it to your bucket list and see for yourself.
Note: the Czech Republic has 12 UNESCO World Heritage sites, and we just covered 2! I bet you're feeling smarter, no bones about it (last pun, I swear)!
BON VOYAGE, BABES!