Czech Republic Kutná Hora October

The Bone Church of Sedlec Ossuary, Czech Republic: A Scary Places Travel Guide

The Bone Church of Sedlec Ossuary, Kutna Hora, Czech Republic: A Scary Places Travel Guide

A church erected from human bones stands an hour away from Prague near a Czech Republic town called Kutná Hora. This Bone Church, or Sedlec Ossuary, contains tens of thousands of human skeletons,  a spooky presentation arranged with enough artistic and macabre finesse around the dark Catholic chapel on pillars and chandeliers and skull streamers to mark the church as one of the top scary places to visit this Halloween season.

The Bone Church Origins

How did this skeletal monument come to be one of the top scary places of the Czech Republic? The history of the Sedlec Ossuary dates back as far as the late 13th century, characterized by a story of death in abundance, as any of the world’s best scary places should be.

Skull Ceiling at the Sedlec Ossuary in the Czech Republic

The story starts with an abbot and a sprinkle of holy dust from the Jerusalem hill of Golgotha. It was 1278, when a local abbot peppered some of this special soil around the cemetery of the Sedlec abbey.

And then came the bodies. The Black Death and the Hussite Wars in the 14th and 15th centuries brought thousands of corpses to be buried in the cemetery at the Sedlec Ossuary—until there simply was no room left.

Sedlec Ossuary Catholic Church

With the cemetery beyond capacity, a Gothic-style church was built around 1400, dedicating the lower chapel area as an ossuary for the thousands of human remains leftover. In 1511, a half-blind monk began his task of exhuming skeletons and stacking their bones in the bone church. The Bone Church of Sedlec Ossuary was on its way to becoming one of the world’s uniquely scary places.

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The Sedlec Ossuary became the gruesomely beautiful bone church of today in 1870. In that year, the House of Schwarzenberg employed a local woodcarver in the Czech Republic named František Rint to artistically rearrange the bones of the Sedlec Ossuary. Rint’s unique design of the Sedlec Ossuary’s bones lent the ossuary its macabre flourish that made the bone church famous in the Czech Republic and abroad.

Skull Cross at the Bone Church near Prague

Sedlec Ossuary: A Scary Places Travel Guide

While the Sedlec Ossuary is not the only bone church in the Czech Republic and Europe, it’s definitely one of the most famous due to the elaborate nature of its skeletal adornments. If you think “bone church,” then you’re probably imagining the Sedlec Ossuary.

 


In the Halloween spirit? Check out our other October posts, including the LA’s Best Halloween Festival!


 

Located in Sedlec, a suburb of the town of Kutná Hora, Czech Republic, the Sedlec Ossuary is about an hour east of Prague. From the outside, the Sedlec Ossuary looks like just any other plain church—a far cry from a coveted spot on the list of the world’s scary places. However, it’s the interior of the bone church that earns its status as one of the world’s scary places. Take a step inside the church and you’ll be overwhelmed by stacks and stacks of meticulously composed groupings of over 40,000 human skeletons.


Skull Column in Kutna Hora, Czech Republic

The Reworking of the Bones

František Rint masterfully reworked Sedlec Ossuary’s thousands of bones, elevating it from grotesque to morbid masterpiece. Rint created dozens of delicately detailed artworks out of bone, including altarpieces, four chandeliers, a large chalice, and elaborate decorative chains wreathed with stacks of skulls. Rint even created a skeletal version of the House of Schwarzenberg’s coat of arms, complete with every detail—even the crow plucking an eye out of the severed head of a Turkish soldier.

Sedlec Ossuary Bone Crest in Kutna Hora

Rint also left his signature in bones on a wall of the ossuary. It reads: “F.Rint 1870,” along with the name of his hometown, Česká Skalice of the Czech Republic.

The Bone Chandelier

Arguably the centerpiece of the Sedlec Ossuary, the enormous bone chandelier hanging over the nave welcomes visitors with its intricate interlacing of skeletal remains. This amazing chandelier uses every bone in the human body at least once. There are 206 bones in the human body—this chandelier is made up of literally hundreds of bones. The seven arms of the chandelier are formed from vertebrae, each arm ending in a skull with a mounted candle. Given its incredible construction, this bone chandelier is iconic of the bone church itself.

Bone Chandelier at Sedlec Ossuary, Czech Republic

Alternative Ossuaries

Other ossuaries can be found throughout the Czech Republic, including the one at Brno, which is Europe’s second largest ossuary after the Paris Catacombs, with 50,000 confirmed human remains. If you’re looking for scary places without the crowds, the much quieter Melnik Ossuary is much less visited by tourists than the sometimes busy Sedlec Ossuary.

 

Skeletons at the Bone Church: perfect for Halloween!

How to Get to the Sedlec Ossuary from Prague

Sedlec is about 85 km away from Prague and is easily reachable by bus and train.

Train

Take a train to Kutná Hora from Prague’s main train station (hlavní nádraží). These trains run every two hours in the morning and early afternoon, and every hour starting at 3 PM. Once at the Kutná Hora main train station, transfer to a local train to Kutná Hora’s city center. These local trains pass right through Sedlec. Get off at the first stop (Kutná Hora—Sedlec). Make sure you press the request-stop button by the door right as the train gets going to make sure you don’t miss the stop. When you get off, just follow the signs to the ossuary.

Bus

You can catch a bus to Kutná Hora from the Praha-Haje bus stop in Prague (metro line C, stop Haje). These buses leave every hour throughout the day, and the trip takes about 1 hour and 40 minutes. Get off at Kutná Hora’s city center (centrum) and take city bus # 1 (every half hour during the week) or city bus #7 (every hour on the weekends). Get off at the Sedlec, Tabak stop by the Phillip Morris factory, about a 15 minute ride. Just follow the signs to the ossuary!

 

Nearby Attractions in the Czech Republic

The Sedlec Ossuary is very close to several other attractions in Sedlec and Kutná Hora in the Czech Republic.


Church of the Assumption of Our Lady and Saint John the Baptist in Kutna Hora, Czech Republic

In Sedlec, the Cathedral of the Assumption of Our Lady at Sedlec is within walking distance of the Sedlec Ossuary. While it might not make it on to the list of scary places, this church is a UNESCO World Heritage site. This cathedral is noted for its combination of gothic and baroque architectural styles.


Catholic Kutna Hora Church, Czech Republic
In Kutná Hora, there are several beautiful churches and cathedrals. The entire historic center of Kutná Hora is also a UNESCO World heritage site. The most notable site in Kutná Hora is the magnificent Church of St. Barbara, with its unique three-tent roof and flying buttresses.

The Church of St Barbara in Kutna Hora, Czech Republic

If visiting the world’s scary places is your thing, then a visit to the Sedlec Ossuary must be included in your Czech Rebublic itinerary. Visiting Sedlec and Kutná Hora can be done as an easy day trip from Prague—so don’t miss out on experiencing the Sedlec Ossuary, truly one of the world’s unique scary places!

 


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Visiting the devilishly macabre Bone Church of Sedlec Ossuary in Kutna Hora near Prague, Czech Republic (A Scary Places Travel Guide!)

 


Was this travel guide helpful? Check out another Television of Nomads travel guide:


Have you visited the Sedlec Ossuary or any other scary places? Tell us about your experience in a comment below!

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13 Comments

  • Reply
    Sheena
    October 12, 2016 at 6:03 am

    Eeeek this is one of my top bucket list places! I missed out it when I was in the Czech Republic about 10 years ago & I’l still regretting it big time! Your photos are eerily beautiful. Thanks for the transport info, saving this for future reference cause I will make it there one day 🙂

    • Reply
      Lauren West
      October 15, 2016 at 3:46 pm

      Why thank you, Sheena! You’ve definitely gotta go. The historical background of this place is unreal!

  • Reply
    Ashley
    October 12, 2016 at 11:33 am

    Whoa! What an amazing place to see. My husband would find this incredibly cool so I’ll have to use this to coax our move to Germany.

    True artist will use any available resource and reorganize to make you think. Love it.

    • Reply
      Lauren West
      October 15, 2016 at 3:47 pm

      It’s definitely a sight to behold, Ashley!

  • Reply
    Gina
    October 12, 2016 at 11:56 am

    Reading about this church gave me goosebumps! I thought things like this were only in movies and not in real life. I agree that the church is gruesomely beautiful, but I wonder why the monks thought this was a great idea!

    • Reply
      Lauren West
      November 16, 2016 at 3:09 am

      It’s really quite interesting!

  • Reply
    Soraya
    October 12, 2016 at 1:35 pm

    Wow this sounds super interesting! I find visiting Gothic Churches really interesting – I always find the history so fascinating and also the architecture so different than many other churches you find around Europe. This one is particularly fascinating…creating ‘art’ out of bones. It is a bit creepy I must admit, but I would like to visit it nonetheless. Great write up!

    • Reply
      Lauren West
      October 12, 2016 at 10:12 pm

      Lovely compliment, Soraya! Sedlec Ossuary is really quite remarkable–fully creepy, to be sure, but definitely worth a visit!

  • Reply
    star lengas
    October 12, 2016 at 11:08 pm

    FREAKY and yet I want to visit! Wish I had known about the Bone Church during my visit to Praha — this place is great inspo for a fantasy book. I’m already getting ideas now haha … super weird but awesome.

    • Reply
      Lauren West
      October 15, 2016 at 3:47 pm

      Intriguingly freaky, I’d say! You’ll have to save it for your next trip!

  • Reply
    Kate
    October 16, 2016 at 1:25 am

    I can’t wait to visit! Your pictures are awesome, you really capture the shadows which adds to the creepiness!

    • Reply
      Lauren West
      October 17, 2016 at 3:16 pm

      Thanks, Kate! It’s unlike any church we’ve visited before!

  • Reply
    Television of Nomads
    February 11, 2017 at 7:20 pm

    […] The Bone Church of Sedlec Ossuary, Czech Republic: A Scary Places Travel Guide […]

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