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Wednesday, May 2, 2007

The Bone Church...

With today being a holiday, the three of us took a trip to Kutna Hora, a city about an hour southeast of Prague. Thanks to the old Garmin GPS we got there and back without serious delay (it has been the best investment since we got here - along with the new digital camera). There are many interesting things to see in Kutna Hora, but by far the most unusual is the Kostnice, or "Ossuary". It is a church-like building in the middle of a cemetery that uses the bones from 40,000 people in, shall we say, artistic ways. The explanation is below, but first look at some pictures. There are other pictures by using the link.

This is looking back at the entrance from inside the Ossuary.

A small stack of skulls and bones. Part of a very big stack, and there are several large stacks within the Ossuary.

Here is a coat of arms made exclusively from human bones. This is one of the large stack of bones mentioned earlier.

Here is a closeup from the coat of arms showing a bird (made of bones) picking at the eyes of a skull.

Here is one of several candleabras. In the background you will notice a bone chandelier.

Explanation: Here is what Fodor's says about the Ossuary. "The origins...go back to the Middle Ages when war and plague filled the adjoining cemetery to bursting point and extra space had to be found to house the surplus skeletons. A blind monk is said to have arranged the bones in simple patterns in the 16th century, but the present facinating displays date from the late 19th century." However, the information at the Ossuary itself said that soil from Jerusalem was brought back and sprinkled on the grounds of the cemetery and this caused a lot more people to want to be buried there. Which explanation is right? Both? Neither?

The Ossuary is creepy, and the pictures are reminiscent of Pol Pot's Cambodia. However, these people (by and large) were not murdered and there are no sinister feelings about it. To tell you the truth, I would feel better if my bones ended up in a place like this than just in a hole in the ground.

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