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The Sedlec Ossuary, Czech Republic

The Sedlec Ossuary, Czech Republic

Visiting a Roman Catholic chapel is common for many during a holiday or vacation in Europe. Many of these chapels are centuries old, with intricate works of art to 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, it is a Roman Catholic underground chapel, in many senses 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!

Sedlec Ossuary

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

The Sedlec Ossuary, also known as the Cemetery 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 Ossuary was initially built in the 13th Century, but it wasn’t until the 15th Century that it began to be used as a place to store bones.

The bones were initially kept in the abbey cemetery, but they were moved into the Ossuary when the cemetery 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

The Ossuary has a long history, and the Ossuary 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 architect designed it to contain about 50,000 skeletons while he lived; it has since been expanded to accommodate twice that number.

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.

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 near the Ossuary.

Sedlec Ossuary Opening Hours and Tickets

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 are can be purchased at the entrance or in advance online.

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 who have been buried there over the years. The result is a macabre and 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 were overflowing.

That’s when František Rint was hired to arrange the bones so that they could be appropriately managed. The results of his work are what drive nearly 200,000 people to the Sedlec Ossuary every year, 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 is waiting for you – certainly if the nickname didn’t clue you in. Hung above the door to the chapel is a crucifix made with, (you, you guessed it) human bones.

As you come inside, look up and see what looks like 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.

There are various works of art line the Ossuary walls, including an entirely accurate coat of arms for the Schwarzenberg family, who commissioned Rint to organize the bones.

The coat of arms protects a large ossuary chamber that is overflowing with remains.

As you leave, you have the opportunity to leave a donation at what would traditionally be the donation box in most Roman Catholic chapels.

Best Things to do in Sedlec Ossuary

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 initially 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 a 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 located 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 is located in the Czech Republic that showcases various silver artifacts from throughout history.

The museum contains a wide variety of items, including jewelry, utensils, and other decorative objects. It is a popular tourist attraction and is considered one of the most important museums of its kind in central Europe.

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 is a gallery that contains a wealth of information on the history of art 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 that is located in the city of Kutna Hora, Czech Republic. This hotel is one of the most luxurious and exclusive in the entire country, and it features some impressive amenities and services that are sure to please guests.

Some of the features that 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.

The Ossuary, also known as the ” bone church,” is located near the hotel. 

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 is within walking distance of many of the 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 located 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.

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