Posted by: debrakolkka | September 2, 2010

The bone church in Kutna Hora

Have you been to the Kostnice Ossuary in Kutna Hora?  I was looking through my photos when I came upon the ones I took on a trip to Prague.

The Ossuary is in the basement in the Chapel of All Saints in Kutna Hora, about an hour outside Prague.  40,000 skeletons were used to make the very interesting and slightly macabre sculptures that fill the interior of the basement. 

In 1278 the Cisterian abbot of Sedlec( a suburb of Kutna Hora) visited Palestine and the Holy Land.  While there, he gathered some of the local soil, which he sprinkled  on the grounds of his local cemetry on his return.  After that everyone wanted to be buried there – when they were dead, of course. 

 Various wars and illnesses provided lots of material for Frantisek Rint, a woodcarver and artist who was employed in 1870 by the Schwartzenberg family to turn the bones into works of art.  I will leave you to decide if he succeeded.

recognise anyone?

a very different chandelier

family Coat of Arms

What can I say?

very decorative

I didn’t find the ossuary particularly morbid or scary,  just fascinating.  You could spend hours wandering around the amazing sculptures.  There are buses from Prague to Kutna Hora and the church is open every day except 24th and 25th December.  The town is also quite interesting and worth spending a bit of time in.  There is also a church with gorgeous stained glass windows if you would like to see something a little more uplifting.


  1. This has to be the MOST unusual thing I’ve seen for a long time!! LOVE it… I have never heard of it, although I know nothing about Prague. Now I want to go there!!!Thanks for the photos – they are fabulous.

  2. Amazing. I wonder if Alexander McQueen was inspired for his signature skull.

  3. What a tease you are Deb! No, I didn’t recognise any relatives!
    My husband and I visited the Capuchin Crypt beneath the Capuchin Church of the Immaculate Conception in Rome. The same thing as in Prague – monks’ bones decorated into works of art. At first we thought it was gruesome but then had to admire the works of art.
    It is interesting to note the type of designs used – in Prague, the designs were done by a German, in Rome, by a French or Italian monk.
    What a way to ‘celebrate’ the dead! I wonder if this ritual is practised in other parts of the world? As you say, Deb, more “fascinating” rather than macabre.

  4. Its kinda fascinating in a weird & macabre way. Really artistic though, I’d love to wander through this. Thanks for sharing.

  5. I remember when I visited the catacombs in Paris. It was the same sort of feeling. Not morbid but very atmospheric!

  6. Wow. I don’t really know what to feel or think about this. I’d much rather wander through this though, than amongst the corpses in the Palermo Catacombs. Have a look:

    Still – it’s incredibly fascinating…

    • That is so gruesome!!! What makes people do these things???

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