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Ossuary Kutná Hora - Sedlec

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Saturday 22.06.

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Sunday 23.06.

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Sedlec Ossuary

A mysterious place that respectfully reminds us that no one is immortal. The underground chapel of the cemetery church in Sedlec near Kutná Hora contains the second largest ossuary in the Czech Republic.

If you enter the underground chapel of the cemetery Church of All Saints, your breath will hitch at the sight of a chandelier composed of all the large bones of the human body, decorations made of human shoulder blades and hips, skulls of healthy and injured people and children, pyramids and other unusual decorations made of human skeletal remains.  

Memento mori – remember death. This wisdom is reverently commemorated in the Sedlec ossuary, which is adorned with the remains of nearly 60,000 people who came before us. The ossuary is the underground chapel of the cemetery church of All Saints, which was originally part of the Cistercian abbey in Sedlec, founded in the 12th century.  

  • Tip for you: Don’t miss the unique atmosphere of the candle-lit ossuary during special night tours usually held during the Kutná Hora Summer. You will be delighted by the guide’s engaging interpretation and the concert in the upper part of the chapel.  

The local cemetery near the Sedlec monastery buried 30,000 dead after the plague of 1318, and another 10,000 dead during the Hussite Wars. After its abolition, the exhumed bones were stored outside and inside the underground chapel and a half-blind Sedlec monk is said to have stacked them in large pyramids. At the beginning of the 18th century, the church was then modified by the world-famous architect Jan Blažej Santini-Aichl, who incorporated the bone decoration directly into it.  

After the demise of the monastery in the times of Emperor Joseph II, the cemetery church came into the possession of the Schwarzenberg family from Orlík. It was their master, František Rint from Česká Skalice, who in 1870 made an imaginative extensive skeletal decoration. He complemented everything with the Schwarzenberg coat of arms – how else than from bones. It is in this form that the ossuary still encourages pious contemplation of the impermanence of human life.  

  • Interesting fact: You don’t have to travel far to another remarkable Baroque ossuary . In neighbouring Kolín , you will find an ossuary with rich ornamental decoration near the Church of St. Bartholomew. Other accessible ossuaries in Central Bohemia are located under the presbytery of the Church of St. Peter and Paul in Mělník or in the village of Žehuň, where the ossuary is part of the local church of St. Gothard.  
Where to head next?

Combine a visit to the ossuary with a tour of the UNESCO-listed Sedlec Cathedral , which together with the ossuary forms the oldest part of Kutná Hora. Another important religious monument under UNESCO protection is the Cathedral of St. Barbara in the historical centre of Kutná Hora. Right next to the temple you will find the GASK or the Gallery of the Central Bohemian Region (the 3rd largest gallery in the Czech Republic). Through the Czech Museum of Silver , you can see a medieval silver mine and mint your own silver groschen in the Vlašský dvůr. For a sweet break, go to the Lidka Chocolate Museum and Chocolate Factory and for a tasting of local wine, visit the Kutná Hora Wine Cellars 

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