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Published: July 29th 2005
Innocent enough looking!
After another night of hostel action which included meeting a clown, quite literally and having sword fights with swords made from balloons we finally managed to get to the train station and make our way out to Kutna Hora, 75Kms from Prague. Upon arrival we all ate at the local pub which cost for all of us the same as it would for one meal in Prague.
Kutna Hora at one point in time rivaled Prague in overall importance after having grown rich off the silver mines beneath it. The three most important buildings within this medieval town are Sedlec Ossuary, Cathedral of our Lady Sedlec and the Church of St Barbara (Yes mother, it is now confirmed, you are a Saint).
I've never been to, nor will I ever find again, a place like Sedlec Ossuary. The Ossuary is a small Christian chapel located under the cemetery. In 1278 the Abbot was sent by the King of Bohemia to the Holy Land. When he returned he brought with him small amount of dirt which he subsequently sprinkled on the soil. Keen to maximize their chances of going to heaven much of upper class throughout central europe desired to
One of the piles, approx 15,000 bodies
be buried here.
Fast forward a couple of years to the to the mid 14th century which was the period of the black death and 1/3 of the regions population died within a few months. This led to Sedlec Ossuary not only being the "dead centre" of europe but also being in the awkward position of being full (Don't worry, it's full of deadbeats anyway!). So the story goes that a half blind monk was given the task of exhuming the bones and piling them up inside the ossuary - 40,000 bodies to be precise.
So one can only imagine that this task would have, well, disturbed him somewhat. So he does what any Monk of that period would do, turn them into artworks. Here the bones lay for approximately 400 years until a local wood carver was employed to put the bones in order (remember, despite his valiant efforts, the monk was still half blind!) So this carver set about building two massive mounds of about 15,000 bodies each, then building the Hapsburg family coat of arms and a few chandeliers and of course a few other macabre pieces.
It is truly mind boggling - to
be honest I was a little taken aback by the whole thing, so much so that upon exiting I was forced to find comfort in a 3-scoop ice cream cone.
We then wandered into the medieval town past some of Czech's worst soviet style architecture, grey and bare. Upon arrival into the town square you are treated to the twin sites of the Cathedral of our Lady Sedlec and the Church of St Barbara both built around the 14th century. The latter of the two is on one of the highest points in the area and as such has beautiful views and gardens. Here we spent a leisurely hour or so, stopping to have coffee at one of the fantastic places with a view. We eventually wandered back into town and back into Prague to finish off a very nice day.
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