In 1142 the Cistercian order founded a monastery in Kutna Hora funded by the landlord Miroslav, soon after this silver was discovered nearby and the monastery became incredibly rich. The town became an economical, cultural and political hub in Bohemia and became a royal city in the 14th century. However in the 16th century the silver mines where exhausted and the town’s prominence waned. The town’s period of prosperity produced the outstanding architectural structures of the Historic Town Center of Kutna Hora.
Kutna Hora is not far from Prague and an easy day trip from the Czech capital, the historic center of this small town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to several churches and buildings including the Cathedral of Saint Barbara, the Stone House and the Hradek. But let’s leave that for another article, as the sites that really interest visitors to Kutna Hora are those in Sedlec, a parish just a few minutes away.
The Cathedral of Assumption of Our Lady and Saint John the Baptist
This is the oldest Cistercian cathedral in Bohemia, and was constructed from 1282 to 1320. The cathedral was built in the middle of a well populated area and flourished until the Hussite war when the structure was burnt to the ground, in 1454 it was restored. Under Abbot Jindrich (1685-1709) the building was renovated further but due to a poor economy the convent was abandoned and the cathedral closed by 1783. In 1806 it resumed its role as the parish church for Sedlec and nearby Malin. After recent extensive renovations the UNESCO cathedral was opened to the public in 2009. The cathedral treasury room holds one of only 10 monstrances, it is the oldest Gothic monstrance in the world. Other artistic treasures include three paintings by Petr Brandl, religious relics and a confession booth from 1730.
Cemetery Church of All Saints with the Ossuary
Henry the Abbot was sent to the Holy Land in 1278 and on return brought with him earth from Jerusalem. He sprinkled this holy earth over the cemetery of Sedlec. After that people were clamoring to be buried there, close to the holy soil. The cemetery was in great demand and so when the adjacent Church of All Saints was erected in 1400 the underground chapel became an ossuary. Bones were dug up from the cemetery and stored in the chapel. In all the ossuary holds the remains of about 40,000 people. However what makes this ossuary unique is that in the 1800s an ingenious (and probably very bored) half-blind monk and later a wood carver began arranging the bones and organizing them to form shapes and objects. In the ossuary or Bone Church you can see a chandelier made out of bones, a coat of arms, lamps, and piles of sculls. Hanging around the walls are Christmas decoration-like arrangements which are in fact strings of bones.
Important Info: Entrance fee to the Ossuary 90CZK, students 60CZK; Cathedral of Assumption of Our Lady and St. John the Baptist 50CZK, students 30CZK.
Kostnice, Zamecka 127, Kutna Hora-Sedlec 284 03, Czech Republic
What were the WOW moments you experienced?
This place is creepy, but a lot of people visit each year. It is supposed to be where dirt from the crucifixion site of Jesus at Golgotha was brought back and spread across the ground. So many people wanted to be buried here because of that.
Czech Republic, Kutna Hora, Sedlec Bone Church