The Bone Chapel: Prague’s Best Day Trip

On November 30, 2013 by Oren and Cassie

The Bone Chapel in Kutna Hora is Prague’s best and most unique day trip. A quick one-hour train or bus ride brings you to one of the weirdest, creepiest, strangest places we’ve ever seen. The Bone Chapel, officially called the Sedlec Ossuary, is part-tourist attraction, part-haunted house. Every corner is filled with bones, many of them skulls that keep an eerie eye on you during your visit. There’s even a chandelier made from every bone in the human body. Or so they say.

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A column of skulls at the Bone Chapel. 

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THE BONE CHAPEL OF KUTNA HORA

In the 13th century, an abbot brought back some soil from Jerusalem, sprinkling it on the grounds of the cemetery. A simple act of faith turned the chapel into a pilgrimage site and the graveyard into a sought after burial ground. All of the Central European aristocracy suddenly wanted to be buried here. Unfortunately, the graveyard ran out of space long before Central Europe ran out of aristocracy. Using the sort of logic that defined the Dark Ages, the monks exhumed the older bodies and stored them in the church.

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 A chandelier made from every bone in the body.

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There are now an estimated 40,000 skeletons inside the Bone Chapel. Thousands of bodies came to the graveyard during the Black Plague, adding to the numbers. Legend has it that half-blind monks sorted the bones into shapes and piles. Bones are stacked above each other, below each other, next to each other, and in just about every other way that’s geometrically possible.

GETTING TO THE BONE CHAPEL

From Prague, it’s easy to get to Kutna Hora and the Bone Chapel. Trains and buses run regularly from the city and drop you off within walking distance of the church. The main train station is Kutna Hora hl.n., which is a 10-minute walk to the Bone Chapel. There’s also Kutna Hora Mesto station, which is closer to the town center but farther from the church. Either way, it’s easy enough to walk around this small town. At the train station, there are maps and guides for the short walk to the Bone Chapel.

It costs about $2.50 for adults and even less for students and children, so there’s no reason to miss this otherworldly site. There are a few other attractions in the town itself, like St. Barbara’s Cathedral, which are also worth seeing. Nonetheless, the Bone Chapel is absolutely the highlight.

You have to see the Bone Chapel to believe it. Prague has so much to see, but a trip to Kutna Hora and the Sedlec Ossuary should be on every Prague itinerary.

Check out our Bone Church photo gallery.

-O.L.

3 Responses to “The Bone Chapel: Prague’s Best Day Trip”

  • … when you two are next in Rome, we shall take you to the Roman equivalent. Only, in this case, the church was/is Franciscan … and only so much space to bury all those dead guys. Hence, Musical Graves. (I actually can’t go in any more — send the students in while I wait outside.)

  • Had a trip to Hutna Hora years ago, found the Bone chapel fascinating if not a little bizarre.The stories around it? Which one do you believe?

    • Just a little bizarre?! It’s more fun in places like the Bone Chapel NOT to question the stories. Take ’em with a grain of salt. Share them with friends, spread them along. It adds to the mystique of the place, if also to the fairy tale aspect of it.

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