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Published: February 13th 2008
An hour outside of Praque lies the small town of Kutna Hora, and therein lies the fascinating Church of Bones - Sedlec Ossuary
. The church houses the bones of over 40,000 departed souls, their skeletons having been fashioned into moody sculptures and morbid works of art that adorn the cavernous interior.
So the story goes, that back in the 11th Century Henry, the abbot of Sedlec visited the holy lands of Palestine and brought back a handful of earth from Golgotha, Jerusalem. This hallowed soil was then sprinkled on the grounds of his local cemetery, thus rendering the new land sacred and the grounds became a highly sought after and auspicious place to be buried. The Black Death of the 14th Century left many plague victims in need of a sacred final resting place, so the cemetery was enlarged, and again during the Hussite wars in the early 15th Century. A church was erected in the cemetery, and the basement was reserved for storing the bones from abolished graves, a task which was begun in 1511 by a half blind Cistercian monk.
Later in 1870 a Czech wood-carver, František RINT fashioned the bones into eerie and fascinating sculptures including
a huge the chandelier (that reportedly contains all the bones of the human body), a coat of arms, and two chalices as you enter the building.
The main tourist attraction in the Old Town square is undoubtedly that of the Medieval Astronomical Clock
. In the pre-dawn of each new hour, tourists flank the walls of the Old Town City Hall to wait for the clock to strike to behold the spectacle. Perhaps we’re too spoilt by the wonders of the modern age, but 12 apostles passing by the window, a cock crow and chime didn’t really do it for us. But it is OLD so we’ll give it that - probably the height of excitement in its day.
Praque in the summer was hectic: people were everywhere and the narrow windy streets were congested with bodies and thick with sweat. The castle and surrounding medieval buildings with ornate frescoes, detailed architraves and protruding sculptures laced the olde world charm with artisan beauty - some of the best we’ve seen so far. Charles Bridge
is the oldest in the City built between the 14th and 15th century; a pedestrian footbridge lined with statues of saints and other important figures.
By day the bridge is transformed by hundreds of market stalls that line its walls. Musicians, Buskers and artists vie for the attention of the throngs of passing tourists yet try to avoid the drunken English louts on bucks weekend getaways. Black men dressed in white sailor suits with wide teethy grins try to pimp their boat rides, and beggars beseech the crowds laying prone on the footpaths with hands outstretched.
Prague in the summer: we loved it. Our route: POLAND: Krakow (by train) > CZECH REPUBLIC: Prague
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