Kutna Hora and Sedlec Bone Church
Dark tourism is a whole section of the tourism industry devoted to creepy or scary sights and stories. Ghost tours are popular in “haunted” locales like Savannah, Georgia and cemetery tours are popular in Buenos Aires and New Orleans. This Halloween I made my own creepy tour of Europe by visiting the town of Kutna Hora (the Czech Republic’s Sedlec Bone Church locale), Vienna’s Hapsburg crypts, and spending Halloween itself at Bran Castle in Romania- home of Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
The Sedlec Ossuary “Bone Church” was one probably the most interesting place I visited ever on all of my travels. The Bone Church is literally decorated with 40,000 peoples’ human bones and skulls, mostly from the 14th and 15th centuries. An interesting choice of decorating technique if there ever was one.
How does one’s skeleton become a decoration in Kutna Hora you ask? Well, the story is that the cemetery outside the church was seeded with holy ground from Jerusalem which made it is hot ticket for places to be buried. Once relatives of the deceased had also passed away and/or could no longer pay rent, bodies were dug up by monks and used as part of the decorating scheme inside the church.
Always helpful is some practical information about Kutna Hora as it is a solid day trip to visit from Prague. Trains leave about once an hour from Prague Central station. It is not the last stop so you have to search for it on the board or ask the information people at the station. Train tickets are fairly cheap- 6 Euros or so.
Once you have arrived at the station you need to transfer to the local train to get closer unless you want to walk an extra 1.5 miles each way to Sedlec Bone Church. From the local train stop, it is a few hundred meters. But make sure you buy your Bone Church ticket at the ticket office along the walk. If you show up at the church without a ticket you have to walk back and buy one. Don’t be like me! Oops.
It only takes about 15-20 minutes of exploring Sedlec Bone Church to see it all and take photos. There was a crowd there mid-morning when I arrived.. If you are into photos with no people it is probably best to go first thing in the morning or late in the day to avoid the tour bus groups. The crowds are very light here compared to Prague’s Old Town! The town of Kutna Hora is worth an hour stroll as well. Get lunch and check it out!
On the train ride home, it was so crowded, hot, and miserable. There were no seats so I had to stand for over half of the 1 hour train ride. And it was kind of smelly. But I made a few friends and we made it as fun as it could have been. There were three teenagers dressed up as deranged clowns (for Halloween party I presume). I avoided them like the plague as Stephen King’s IT the movie is still fresh in my memory.
After Prague’s Old Town, Kutna Hora and it’s Sedlec Ossuary is the best thing to do in the area. Take the time to get a train through the Czech countryside to the Sedlec Bone Church and see the most macabre decorating scheme in Europe.
Reader Question: Have you been anywhere as crazy as Sedlec Bone Church? Have you done any dark tourism destinations?