How to Visit Sedlec Ossuary (The Bone Church): An Ultimate Guide for Visitors

0
Inside Sedlec Ossuary - Unique Decorative Bones and Skulls Displayed in Kutná Hora

Visiting a Roman Catholic chapel is common for many during a European holiday or vacation. Many of these chapels are centuries old, with intricate works of art and stunning stained glass windows.

Typically Gothic or Baroque architecture, it is often an engineer’s or architect’s dream to stroll through these impressive buildings and marvel at how such incredible architecture came with such crude equipment.

That’s not how you’d describe the Sedlec Ossuary in Kutná Hora because it’s underground. Yes, in many senses, it is a Roman Catholic underground chapel of the word underground. Why? How? Because it also has notable works of art to admire. Here’s the thing…the works of art are made from human bones!

What is the Sedlec Ossuary?

Front of Sedlec Ossuary in Kutna Hora, Czechia
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

The Sedlec Ossuary, also known as the Cemetery within the Gothic Church of All Saints, is located in the small town of Kutna Hora.

It is an amazing attraction that is about an hour outside of Prague. It’s a popular tourist destination, especially for those interested in the macabre and unusual.

The Gothic Church of All Saints is not like most Cistercian buildings. It has a special beauty and shows off rare skill in its making. It started during a time when Gothic architecture was changing the rules. Its design came from Bohemia and marked the start of a new era in building design.

The Ossuary was initially built in the 13th Century, but it wasn’t until the 15th Century that it began to be used to store bones. The bones were initially kept in the abbey cemetery but were moved into the Ossuary when it became full.

It’s believed that there are the remains of more than 40,000 people from the Black Death and the Hussite Wars. 

History of the Sedlec Ossuary

Sedlec Ossuary Bones

The Ossuary has a long history and was built around 1870 when Franz Joseph I of Austria authorized construction as a mausoleum for himself, his wife, Empress Elisabeth, and some family members.

It is located in the Cistercian abbey of Sedlec near Kutná Hora in the Czech Republic. The bones in the human body were transferred from cemeteries within what is now the Czech Republic because burial space had become scarce after several disasters during the mid-19th Century.

The stories that swirl around this cemetery are as captivating as they are eerie. As legend has it, a corpse placed in this burial ground would decompose within three days, leaving behind only bones. This tale of quick decay piqued interest, making Sedlec Ossuary an enduringly alluring attractant.

The Architectural Marvel

Sedlec Ossuary Chapel
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

The architect designed it to contain about 50,000 skeletons while he lived; it has since been expanded to accommodate twice that number. The architecture of the church has a charisma uniquely its own.

A meticulously hewn edifice, its stones have never been altered nor plastered, maintaining an organic authenticity that reverberates within its stoic walls.

The bone church is unusual because of the way the bones are arranged. Most ossuaries dump human skulls and bones into a mass grave, but the Gothic church contains intricate designs made entirely of bones from the human body!

These include a large chandelier in the center of the room, several sculptures and reliefs on the walls, and a coat of arms on the ceiling.

The two polygonal towers that grace the impressive west front have their peculiar tale to share, too. Enshrined within these towers was the eternal light of the dead—perhaps an attempt to immortalize the essence of those no longer with us.

How to Get to Sedlec Ossuary

The Sedlec Ossuary is located in the village of Kutna Hora in the Czech Republic. The best way to get there is by car or bus. There are several parking options available near the Ossuary.

By Bus

Several bus companies offer public transport to Kutna Hora. Some of these include Flixbus, Regiojet, and Student Agency. Tickets can be purchased online in advance or at the bus station on the day of travel.

By Car

Take Highway E50/E55 towards Pilsen if you are driving from Prague. Take exit 102 for Kutna Hora-Sedlec and follow the signs to Sedlec Ossuary. Parking is available.

Opening Hours and Tickets

Skull and Crossbone Outside Sedlec Ossuary
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

It is open daily from 9 am to 6 pm. Admission is 90 CZK for adults, 60 CZK for students, and 30 CZK for children. Sedlec Ossuary tickets can be purchased at the entrance or online in advance.

Guided tours of the Ossuary are available in several languages, including English, German, French, Spanish, and Czech. Tours last approximately 45 minutes and cost 150 CZK per person. Private tours are also available upon request.

What to See in Sedlec Ossuary

Bones on a Church
Sedlec Ossuary” by milan.boers is marked with CC BY 2.0.

If you’re looking for an eerie place to visit, the Sedlec Ossuary in the Czech Republic should be at the top of your spooky travel bucket list. This chapel is filled with the bones of more than 40,000 people buried there.

The result is a macabre, spine-chilling sight that will chill down your spine. Here are the exciting things to see:

More Than 40,000 Human Remains Reside at the Bone Church

Chandelier Made of Bones
Sedlec Ossuary” by milan.boers is marked with CC BY 2.0.

In the late 13th Century, Henry the Abbot, who resided at the local monastery in Sedlec, traveled to the Holy Land and brought a handful of holy soil from Golgotha, which is the hill where Jesus was reportedly crucified.

He sprinkled the dirt over the cemetery, and once everyone found out about this, they all wanted to be buried there because the land was now extra holy.

Yup. Over the next 600 years, up to 70,000 people were buried in this tiny cemetery, causing officials to build a Gothic bone church with an upper and lower chapel to make room for more Christian cadavers. The Sedlec bone church is the lower chapel.

There were so many bones in the late 19th Century that the Ossuary and cemetery overflowed. That’s when František Rint was hired to arrange for the bones to be appropriately managed. His work’s results drive nearly 200,000 visitors annually, making it one of the Czech Republic’s most visited sites.

Chandeliers, Crucifixes, & Furniture Made From Bones

Crucifix and Altar Made of Bones
Sedlec Ossuary” by milan.boers is marked with CC BY 2.0.

The entrance to the bone church will give you a glimpse of what awaits you if the nickname doesn’t interest you. Hung above the door to the chapel is a crucifix made with (you, you guessed it) human bones.

As you enter, look up and see several human spines draped from the ceiling. Look a little closer, and you’ll realize that each vertebra is a different human skull with a bone in its mouth.

In the center of the ceiling hangs an enormous chandelier with various arm & leg bones draped from it, where one would typically see crystal or glass decorations.

As you approach the chapel’s altar, you’ll see four triangular pillars, each with multiple shelves containing one skull with a bone in its mouth, similar to the “spines” on the ceiling.

Various works of art lined the Ossuary walls, including an accurate coat of arms for the Schwarzenberg family, who commissioned Rint to organize the bones.

The coat of arms protects a large ossuary chamber overflowing with remains. As you leave, you can leave a donation at what would traditionally be the donation box in most Roman Catholic chapels.

There are many things to do in the Ossuary, but some of the best include:

  • Checking out the eerie bone chapel.
  • Admiring the beautiful artistry of the chapel’s decorations.
  • Exploring the other areas of the Ossuary.
  • Enjoy a peaceful walk through the quiet forest surrounding the Ossuary.
  • Pick up a souvenir skull to commemorate your visit, but this one is only made of plaster.

Sedlec Ossuary Nearby Attractions

St Barbara’s Cathedral

Building Exterior of St Barbara's Cathedral
St. Barbara’s Cathedral” by Matthewjs007 is marked with CC BY 2.0.

The St Barbara’s Cathedral in the Czech Republic is a Gothic-style church built in the 14th century. The cathedral suffered extensive damage during World War II but has been restored. The church features beautiful stained glass windows, intricate carvings, and other decorations.

Italian Court

The Italian Court, Czech Republic, is a beautiful palace that sits atop a hill in the town of Cesky Krumlov. It offers stunning views of the town and the river below.

The palace was built in the 15th century by members of the Italian nobility who had settled in the area. It is now a popular tourist destination that is constantly toured on day trips, with many visitors coming to see the beautiful architecture and artwork inside the palace.

Kačina

Kacina Castle Building Front

Kačina, Czech Republic, is a small town in the Zlín Region of the Czech Republic. The city is best known for its Sedlec Ossuary, a chapel famous as a church of bones found in the townhome of a thousand human bones.

Kačina Castle is another popular castle and tourist attraction in the town. The castle is a sizeable Gothic-style castle built in the 13th century. The castle has been extensively restored and is now open to the public as a museum. Visitors can explore the castle’s rooms, towers, and courtyards and learn about its history.

Czech Museum of Silver

The Czech Museum of Silver in the Czech Republic showcases various historical silver artifacts. The museum contains various items, including jewelry, utensils, and other decorative objects. It is a popular tourist attraction and one of central Europe’s most important museums.

GASK – Central Bohemian Gallery, contributory

The GASK – Central Bohemian Gallery is a contributory art gallery in the Czech Republic. It was founded in 1949 and is located in the town of Sedlec.

The gallery showcases a variety of art styles, from classical to contemporary. It has a collection of over 15,000 pieces, including paintings, sculptures, and photographs. The gallery also has a library and archive. It’s a gallery that contains a wealth of information on art history in the Czech Republic.

Places to Stay Near Sedlec Ossuary

Palace Kutna Hora – Best Luxury Hotel

Luxurious Hotel Lobby
Photo by Booking.com

The Palace Kutna Hora is a magnificent building in Kutna Hora, Czech Republic. This hotel is one of the most luxurious and exclusive in the country, and it features some impressive amenities and services that are sure to please guests.

Some features guests can enjoy while staying at this hotel include an on-site spa, a fitness center, and many dining options. 

Chateau Třebešice – Best Mid-Range Hotel

Lake by the Building Structure of Chateau Třebešice
Photo by Booking.com

The Chateau Třebešice is a beautiful mid-range hotel located in the Czech Republic. It offers guests a variety of amenities, including a pool, spa, and restaurant. The hotel is situated in a charming location, surrounded by forests and hills. This makes it the perfect place to relax and escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

See Related: Beautiful 7 Star Hotels From Around the World

Hotel U Kata – Best Budget Hotel

Spacious Hotel Room with Queen-sized Bed
Photo by Booking.com

The Hotel U Kata is a great budget hotel perfect for travelers looking for a cheap and comfortable place to stay. The hotel is located in the city’s heart and within walking distance of many major attractions.

The rooms are clean and spacious, and the staff is friendly and helpful. The hotel also features a restaurant and bar, making it a great place to relax after a long day of sightseeing.

Penzion Apartments Benešova 6 – Best Rental

Living Area with Big Red Couch
Photo by Booking.com

Penzion Apartments Benešova 6 is a top-notch rental property in the heart of the Czech Republic. This magnificent structure offers guests many amenities, including spacious and comfortable accommodations, modern furnishings and appliances, and on-site parking.

Whether you’re in town for business or pleasure, Penzion Apartments Benešova 6 is the perfect place to call home during your time in the Czech Republic.

Related Resources

Kyle Kroeger
WRITTEN BY

Kyle Kroeger

Kyle Kroeger is the Founder and Owner of ViaTravelers.com. He is a full-time traveler and entrepreneur. Kyle started ViaTravelers.com to help travelers experience a fully immersive cultural experience as he did initially living in Italy. He's a converted finance nerd and Excel jockey turned world wanderer (and may try to get lost on purpose). After visiting 12 countries and 13 national parks in a year, he was devoted to creating and telling stories like he'd heard.

Plus, after spending more time on airplanes and packing, he's learned some incredible travel hacks over time as he earned over 1 million Chase Ultimate Rewards points in under a year, helping him maximize experiences as much as possible to discover the true meaning of travel.

He loves listening to local stories from around the world and sharing his experiences traveling the globe. He loves travel so much that he moved from his hometown of Minneapolis to Amsterdam with his small family to travel Europe full-time. Read more about his portfolio of work.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *