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Published: June 15th 2007
Kostnice Bone Church in Sedlec
Kostnice, or "The Bone Church" as it has come to be known, contains about 40,000 human bones arranged to form various decorations within the church. The bones, belonging mostly to victims of the 14th century plague and 15th century Hussite Wars, were uncovered from mass graves on the church's site as the area was being developed. Local monks came up with the idea of putting the bones to use in the way you see them displayed today. This church is fascinating and certainly a "must-do" day trip from Prague!
Today was our day trip to Kutna Hora to see Kostnice, the bone church in Sedlec (next to Kutna Hora). Since we had purchased our train tickets yesterday and familiarized ourselves with the train station a bit, the morning was a lot less stressful than it probably would have been had we not been prepared. Almost everything in the train station is only written in Czech, but there is an international information station that is very useful to help you find your way to the right place. It is also a good idea to print the train schedule ahead of time so you know which destination to look for on the board (it only shows the last stop for each train). A handy website with train schedules is IDOS
We located our train and headed over to platform 6 where the 9:54am train to Brno was already waiting. It was about 45 minutes before the train would depart but we were able to board early and relax for awhile. This was good because as the time neared departure, the train filled up almost to capacity. The train ride to Kutna Hora (Hlavni Nadrazi station) took about 1 hour and
Praha Hlavni Nadraski
This is the main train station in Prague, which fortunately was located very close to our hotel! We caught the 9:54am train to Kutna Hora (that's our train pictured here).
5 minutes. On the way there, we had a lovely view of some naked men hanging out (literally) by a nearby lake. Apparently this was not the first naked sighting on our trip, as I was told later that I had missed seeing a woman sunbathing topless when we took our river cruise on the Danube River in Vienna. I'm not exactly sure I really missed anything though...
If you're going to Kutna Hora strictly to see the bone church, you can either catch a bus just outside the main train station (Hlavni Nadrazi), or you can make about a 15 minute walk into the town of Sedlec. Another group ahead of us decided to walk there so we tagged along behind them. It is very easy to find the church... just make a right out of the train station and follow the road around as it curves to the left toward the main road (there are signs at each intersection pointing to "Kostnice"). When you come to a church (on the left side), cross the street and follow the small road on your right (Zamecka Street) up to the church (about a block and a half away...
Kostnice (seen here in the background), or "The Bone Church" as it has come to be known, contains about 40,000 human bones arranged to form various decorations within the church. The bones, belonging mostly to victims of the 14th century plague and 15th century Hussite Wars, were uncovered from mass graves on the church's site as the area was being developed. Local monks came up with the idea of putting the bones to use in the way you see them displayed today. This church is fascinating and certainly a "must-do" day trip from Prague!
you can't miss it). The church is every bit as mysterious and beautiful as it is in all the pictures I've seen.
The bones, dating back to the 14th and 15th centuries, belong mostly to victims of the Plague and to victims of the 15th century Hussite Wars. Over the years, as the area became more developed, the mass graves at the church had to be unearthed, and local monks came up with the idea to put the bones to use by creating what you now seen inside the ossuary. It is probably a once in a lifetime chance to see such a display, and a bargain at that (35 kc to get in and an additional 30 kc to bring in a camera).
After the ossuary we wanted to head into town to see Kutna Hora, so we looked for the nearest bus stop and waited for the bus that would take us to the city center. Unfortunately, the nearest bus station to the church is directly across from a Philip Morris tobacco factory, and the smell of tobacco lingering in the air made my stomach start to turn. We decided to walk back to the train
A closer look at Kostnice...
station, since it wasn't too far away, to wait for the bus there instead. Bus tickets in Kutna Hora are extremely cheap (9 kc) and lead you directly to where the main attractions are. We purchased our tickets on the bus and rode into the town, where we got off at the Kutna Hora Centrum stop and walked over to St. Barbara's Cathedral just down the road. The church, which took over 200 years to complete, is an impressive structure on the outside, and just as impressive on the inside. Once again we were unable to take pictures, but it was worth it to pay the admission (only 30 kc) to walk around inside. The church has been on the UNESCO list of top historical sites for over 10 years now.
After walking around the church we planned on taking a tour of the Hradek Silver Mine, but when we arrived the next tour was over an hour away and we didn't want to wait that long so we decided to walk through Kutna Hora and back to the bus stop where we picked up the bus back to the train station. One thing about Kutna Hora... people here
The Bone Displays
Chalice near the entrance...
speak very little English so it helps to know some key words (especially where it is you're trying to go to) to get around a bit easier. There are more buses that pass through the city center than just the one we picked up at the train station, so when a bus stopped, we made sure it was going past Hlavni Nadrazi (the main station) before boarding. When we got to the station we waited for the next available train at 4:05pm. We found out as soon as we boarded that we had to get off at the next station and transfer to the train heading for Prague. Luckily many of the other people on the train were heading to Prague as well so we all kind of stumbled off the train together and headed over to the proper connecting train. The train conductors are very helpful here so any amount of confusion was quickly dissipated.
When we got back to Prague, we headed over to Old Town to enjoy our last Czech meal. We chose Staromestska Restaurace de la Croix since it faced the square. I had grilled chicken with a mango chutney sauce served with fries and
The Bone Displays
Another view of the chalice...
blue cheese sauce on the side (which I found a bit strange but enjoyed nonetheless). One thing I don't think I mentioned in any of my previous blogs... they charge you for EVERYTHING here. And when I say everything, I really mean it... you have to pay for anything that is put on your table (bread, condiments, napkins, even silverware), whether you use them or not. If you don't want to pay for something, make sure you send it back immediately!
After dinner we wandered around for a bit and then soonafter I was craving dessert (one last chance for some palacinky!). We walked over to the Hotel Imperial because I had wanted to try the cafe there. Unfortunately it is currently under reconstruction, so we walked back toward our hotel and ended up at a little bar/cafe a few doors down called the Country Srub. My hopes for palacinky were quickly dashed when the woman (who did not speak English) managed to get out that it wasn't available. I instead settled for some beer and a cup of ice cream (not a great combination, and even worse because the ice cream was 90% ice). Oh well... not everything
The Bone Displays
I'll let these speak for themselves...
can be perfect and we've been pretty lucky on this trip so far. We then headed back to the hotel as it was getting late.
Tomorrow we take the long train ride to Krakow, Poland. I will be sad to leave Prague and will look forward to returning one day. There is so much to see and do here!
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