Bone Church of Kutna Hora

In 2007, we were in Prague (Capital of Czech Republic). On a typical Friday evening when we were making plans on what to do on this weekend (Prague not so big city, all the see-able places are covered pretty soon). There were not many suggestions coming over besides sitting in hotel room drinking beer and roaming around city center in the evening that too if there is a stop to snow fall. Our SPOC from client side, a jolly good fellow came to our rescue. Though there was some problem in the communication as we don’t know a word of Czech and he is tight at English, but since we hit it well with this guy we could make up for all the missed words or expressions.
He told us about a church in a small town called Kutna Hora called Kostnice (Church of bones) which is about 2 hrs journey from Prague by train. We decided to take this journey. I along with Ashutosh, Piyush, Arif and Soumen (dada) were all set to go to Kutna Hora. It was to be a day long trip only so it did not take much of to get ready besides keeping some money and making up our mind.

I got up early on Saturday and opened curtains for morning dose of sutta and there was a big disappointment. A heavy snow fall was visible and everything was so white. We waited till noon and than gave up all the time drinking and smoking and waiting for snow fall to stop and allowing us to venture out. Snow fall went on till early evening, so we thought let’s see what is in store on Sunday.Sunday was perfect, no sunshine but no snow either. We started out by taking the ?eské dráhy (Czech Railways) train from Prague station to Kutna Hora.

It was a Sunday and when we got down at the Kutna Hora station, we were surprised not to find too many souls around. When we got out of the station, there was almost no one on the streets. When I share the photographs with my friends, they said seems you were the only guys in the entire town. The reason probably was that we chose a wrong day to visit, SUNDAY and almost everything was closed.
In the absence of the buses or taxis and humans, we started walking, looking at symbols. The directions to the church were not VERY difficult to look for and the distance from station also was not that far. We reached the church after about 20 mins walk. From outside it looks like any normal small town church.

Kostnice Ossuary Beinhaus

Kostnice Ossuary Beinhaus



We entered the church and there was one lady sitting at the desk, briefed us on rules of the visit like there is an entry fee (20 Bucks), if you are planning to use a camera a fee (30 bucks) for that too and in case you plan to use you handy cam, well some price for that too ((shell out 10 more). We were instructed to not to touch anything and a important one, finish off the visit by 12 noon as she needs to go home for lunch . We decided that there is no point paying for 3 diff cameras, I took mine and deposited rest two at the counter.

Once you enter the church, you can see just normal decorative objects like a grand chandelier at the center, some pots at the gate, decoration on walls etc. The difference is, every decorative object is made of Human Bones. You will never imagine that the shape of your bones can be so wonderful and you have them in almost every shape to create the magic out of them.

Designed and Boned

Designed and Boned

The guide there gave us a leaflet and the (short) story behind the church goes like this
“The tradition in this town was that whenever any influential person of the city died his bones were used to be donated to the church and buried under it. Around 18th Century the city was hit by plague and a large number of population died. The supply of the bones was too much to handle for the church, so they dig up a large area under the church and dumped all the bones there. Still many were left, one of the rich of the city hired some workers and used these bones to create what you see in the pics ”
For more details one can visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sedlec_Ossuary (I wrote what was written in the leaflet and told to us by the guide there and greatly filtered by my memory, point is that this is the STORY)

The center of the church has a grand Chandelier, all of bones. The special thing about this chandelier is that you will find each bone that exists in human body as a part of it. You will be amazed to see the beautiful patterns created with human bones and the number of humans “consumed” to create this one structure.

Chandelier

Chandelier

(Keep your bones….intact )
Just below the Chandelier is the opening of the dig which holds a huge amount of the bones (all bones other than the ones used in decoration of the church). They don’t open it for you to have a look at it and I think that’s for good. The sight would be scary.

Right over the cellar of bones

Right over the cellar of bones

(I am right over the heap of bones)

I was just wondering how they would take out the bones after the death. Peel off the skin or wait for the body to decompose? No answers for me ?.

It was so amazing to see the interiors. Some amount of moderate fear by being among so many bones. For a moment the feeling that one day all that will remain of you is something similar made us think of the mad rush we find ourselves in the daily life. But all that was, as I said, momentary.

Chilling

Chilling

Dry up the socks

Dry up the socks

With a feeling of seeing something very unique in the world, we came out felt the fresh cold air with snow all around us and visited other places of interest in the city like Fountain with no water, St Barabara church with amazing glass paintings (no photographs allowed) and wandering around the city and playing in around 15 inches of snow. The whole city we covered walking and with water seeping into shoes and exhausted by long walks (all around 10 miles I believe in extreme cold) we decided to take the taxi to station. We had around 2 hrs to kill there before we board the train back to Prague. We utilized this time by relaxing in the benches, munching some sandwiches and dry up the socks. Ashu being the most adventurous should have actually dried up his jeans as well ?

Tired after criss crossing most of the city on foot in about a feet snow

Tired after criss crossing most of the city on foot in about a feet snow

(relaxing after the trip)

27 Comments

  • nandanjha says:

    Strange. This is so difficult to believe Priya. Tell this story to only those people who know you and can trust you. Real boney feeling.

    I think I would revisit this post to look at pics again. As of now I am feeling like completing this comment and do something else.

    By the way, welcome aboard. What a story to start :)

  • Ram Dhall says:

    On the outset, an amazing post with some of the rare pictures.

    In the good old days, for conservation, a global ban on manufacture and sale of ivory products ( I have seen a sofa set made from ivory with unbelievable workmanship at one of the shops in Jama Masjid area) was imposed and these goods were slowly replaced by artefacts made out of camel bones. This market is now being catered by platic products.

    I have also read about “Angulimaal”, but chandeliers, crowns and archways made from human bones was simply inconceivable.

    I am still feeling a chilly feeling.

    Excellent description.

    Welcome aboard. Would look forward to your forthcoming posts.

  • Patrick Jones says:

    A church decorated with bones? Gives me creeps….

    May be to show the usefulness even after death.

    The lines on where we end up is thought-provoking. Let us do something worthwhile before we are turned into chandeliers!

  • nandanjha says:

    :) well said Patrick. lol.

  • Avinash says:

    It is unbelievable, but then that is the truth. So many events have taken place on this earth, that after one look at this planet any visitor from outer space would say “I WANT TO SEE THE MANAGER.”

  • matt says:

    I missed the bone church the last time i was in prague but when i go this summer im going to see it for sure!

  • Cuckoo says:

    That’s so scary !! Church full of human bones !! I would have definitely given it a skip.
    But then, as far as art is concerned, a commendable job to make those artifacts.

    Welcome abroad.

  • Priyavrat says:

    Thanks guys, it’s definitely encouraging to get some nice comments on my first story here.
    Matt, summer should be a nice time to visit but do check before going if the church is open (it remains closed once in a week and probably that is Monday)

  • Gurminder says:

    Hi Priyavrat,

    When did you become writer? Anyways interesting story, my bones were shivering as I was reading the story. I think bones must have inspired you !! Congrats on becoming a writer, what bones to start

  • Priyavrat says:

    Thanks Guru, I was always a writer but wrote for the first time :)

  • Ashish says:

    Very Well written, with complete details.
    As I had gone through all the post (in response) it looks Priyawart’s effort actually paid off very well in getting people have some scares and he has all the kudos now on his writing skills.

    Perfect description and complete detailing.

    Keep posting more such stories…

  • Priyavrat says:

    Thanks Ashish !!!!!

  • ashutosh.raina says:

    An excellent place to visit – especially in winters –
    I have myself been to this place and the Bone Church stands apart from all the other spots…

    :) Priya – nice narration….

  • Priyavrat says:

    Ashu was part of this trip and his endorsement means I din’t miss much.
    One ligther and TIGHTER moment which I did not write in my post was our desparate search for Loo. It being sunday, buildings with WC sign were locked. When we finally got one there was riot on right for first usage…Piyush won it and he took longggggggggg..at least it seemed long :))

  • Nandan says:

    you write well dude. whats next ?

  • Neerja Dhall says:

    Mind blowing stor

  • Neerja Dhall says:

    Mind blowing story!!!

    Iam sure you must have been “chilled to your bone while you were at the Church………..and that too with no humans around………it indeed sounds spooky!!!

    Usually such places have a lot of legends associated to it……….does that hold true for this Church too, or the story u mentioned above(people dying of plague) the only one which is talked about??

    Iam sure I wouldnt forget this account for a long time!!

    Thanks for sharing this WILD experience with us!!!

  • Priyavrat says:

    I know only one Neeraj, the traiditon of rich donating (and dumping in the bit at the center of the church) bones is pretty old, Plague in the city only increased the supply of bones to a great extent and the idea of decorating those bones came as late as 17th or 18th century (after the plague).

  • bikerdude says:

    Saw this place in one of the documentaries on Discovery Travel & Living… Long way around, with Charlie Boorman and Ewan McGregor… Was disappointed that they did not show much of anything… now I have this post to refer to if I am in the mood for macabre pics… bones as decorative articles… hmmm… human nature does have its twists and weird tastes… weird but beautiful….

  • Priyavrat says:

    The last three words of your post says it all “weird but beautiful”, thats exactly how you find it when you stand there and look around.

  • manish khamesra says:

    Welcome Abroad Priyavrat. Nice Macabre place to visit with you with beautiful pictures. Well I think such places very well summarizes that we should not be too much attached with your body that one day we would leave behind and should concentrate on the purity of the soul :) and why not I also like to use this opportunity to say that see this is what may happen to our bones too, atlease save eyes and donate them to someone.

    I know so less about Czech, I would be looking forward to know more about this eastern European country. I still remember my school days when the Czech dictator was overthrown …

  • MUNESH MISHRA says:

    Hi Priyavrat,

    Welcome to Ghumakkar,

    Very good start with interesting, scary and mind blowing story of the unbelievable place “Church of Bones”.

    Detailed pictures inside the church decorated with bones are very rare and bone chilling.

    Thank you for sharing your experience on Ghumakkar.

  • Priyavrat says:

    Thanks Munesh for your encouraging words.

  • Nandan Jha says:

    Thank you Priya for helping us re-publish this story. It reads almost same as what it was. I bet, the place would be same if one has to visit next sunday. Write more as your time allows. Wishes.

  • AUROJIT says:

    Hi Priyavrat,

    A very interesting read about Kunta Hora. We visited Prague during last summers and the bone church was on our agenda, but somehow we could not make it there.

    Enjoyed reading about it here and yes, guess things are pretty similar even today as well.

    Thanks,
    Auro.

  • Priyavrat says:

    Thanks for publishing it again Nandan. I definitely would like to have more posts in coming time.

    Auro, do visit next time you are there. Other places of interest in Czech will be Beskids Mountain and Rock town.They are far from Prague but worth a visit.

  • Ashok Sharma says:

    unbelievables do happen in this world.

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