A morbid curiosity with the dark side?
Following on from our fascinating visit to the Torture Museum in the centre of the Prague’s old town, we were geared up for another dose of the macarbre. So, through our lovely hotel receptionist, we reserved seats on a trip the next day to the medieval mining town of Kutna Hora – an hour long trip from the city centre. For centuries Kutna Hora had housed and operated the Royal mint.
Eager to see as much as we could in our short stay in the Czech Republic, we spent the next morning taking in the sights around the old Jewish Quarter, and only just made it back to the hotel for the 11.00am pick-up. The driver said nothing to us. He merely ushered us into the bus gruffly and then took off on a very circuitous route picking up other passengers on route to the Tour Company office – we needed to pay for our tickets.
Having been told that there wouldn’t be any stops for refreshments, Ket decided to grab a hot-dog from one of the many street side stalls while I waited in line to hand over my Krona.
It was a a smallish bus, with about 20 passengers, a young and attractive tour guide called Katerina and a grumpy driver. Why grumpy? It wasn’t only the body language – he wouldn’t allow Ket board the bus with her hot dog snack – didn’t want the smell, didn’t want the crumbs!
So she stood on the pavement and ate while we all looked on. I was all but drooling and I suspect all our co-passengers were drooling as well. The Czechs do know how to make sausages – understatement!
Finally with Ket safely back in her seat, the bus took off with everyone adjusting the air conditioning nozzles to get some cooler air in the 34+ heat.
When, a bit later on, one of the other passengers unwrapped her sandwiches our bus driver leaned over to the tour guide who promptly asked her over the microphone, to put her food away!
We’d heard from family back home that we had to make the trip to Kutna Hora – a UNESCO world heritage-listed town boasting amoung other things a most unusual church, the Sedlec Ossuary, its interior decorated with the remains of 40,000 human skeletons! No wonder its also called the Bone Church.
It is an unassuming church – its exterior giving no hint of the unusual decor within.
As you descend the stone stairs into the church you see all around you artistically-designed bone features – the most prominent one being the huge chandelier which apparently has one of at least every human bone. I suspect visiting medicos spend their time identifying the bodily origins. Tibea – tick – fibula – tick – rib – tick – clavicle – tick!
Not so me…I was more fascinated in how Frantisek Rint (in 1870) managed to put them all together. Such a goulish sense symmetry – maybe a ‘goth’ before his time.
The story as I understand it is that in 1278 an abbot from the Sedlec Monastery went on a massive walkabout (or pilgrimage) and returned with a jar of soil – reputedly from Golgotha. The soil (named the ‘Holy Soil”) was spread over the land and from then on, Sedlec became the place to be buried in. This meant a massive oversupply of bones – which became a big problem for the small village which had insufficient flat land for burial. Creative thinking took over …
Not a bad idea really once you get your head around it.
I wonder if they operate night tours by candlelight?