Dem Bones

Trip Start Apr 30, 2010
Trip End May 11, 2010

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Flag of Czech Republic  , Středočeský Kraj,
Sunday, May 9, 2010

What do you get when a 19th century Czech guy gets creative with a crypt full of bones?

Something odd, interesting, not as creepy as it could be, but definitely worth seeing.  It's nowhere near as eerie as Paris's catacombs (one of the neatest things to see in Paris, in my opinion), but it's worth the detour.

Back in 2002, I bypassed the Sedlec Ossuary in favour of spending a couple of days in beautiful Cesky Krumlov.  This time, the one must-see place I insisted on was the church of bones, which is why we found ourselves navigating blindly out of Prague on the morning of the 9th of May.

Remember, I had gotten plastered the night before, but I guess I won at getting drunk, because apart from a queasy stomach -- hardly surprising, given how thoroughly I'd emptied it during the night! -- the god of hangovers must have overlooked me.  Not so much as a headache!  Still, we considered it better for Max to drive at first.

We had picked the perfect day to leave Prague, as it was the day of the Prague Marathon.  Fortunately, only the lanes going in the other direction were closed to traffic.  Combining the powers of our own internal compasses, the [rather vague] road atlas, and Navi-chan's compass, we successfully got us on the highway toward Kutná Hora.  Once on the smaller rural roads, though, we relied on the signs, which were sometimes more confusing than not.

"Kutná Hora, next right!"

"What, here?!" as Max pulled into a bus stop.

The Czech countryside is very pretty.  Rolling fields, occasionally vividly yellow (our guess is canola), stretch off toward the horizon.  There are mountains to the north, low yet surprisingly pointed.  The small towns we drove through looked old and in disrepair, but that added to their charm.

At last we were there, in front of the rather ordinary church that houses the ossuary.  Once inside, you go down some steps, and though it's quite light, thanks to the large windows, the temperature is noticeably cooler.  After several minutes down there, I would even have used the word chilly.

And what does a 19th century Czech fantasy of bones look like?  Cold and grey, for starters, but somehow, though it should be morbid, it manages to look almost quaint, in the way that overly decorated Victorian parlours are quaint.  The fat painted cherubs help give this impression, as does the Czech coat of arms done entirely in bones.

Still, in spite of the lack of atmosphere, it's hard to forget that all those bones, all those skulls, represent hundreds upon hundreds of human lives.
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