Travel

This Czech Chapel Is Decorated With Human Bones

Published On 01/30/2017 Published On 01/30/2017

The Czech Republic’s Cemetery Church of All Saints isn’t your average European cathedral, and it's pretty easy to see why: It’s home to the Sedlec Ossuary, a Roman-Catholic chapel in Kutná Hora and home to the repurposed skeletons of approximately 40,000-70,000 dead people. DIY décor, anyone?

The appropriately named "bone church" boasts a colorful history, one that began long before skulls and femurs were even in the picture. Flashback to the 13th century, when an abbot from the Sedlec monastery returned from Jerusalem with soil from the alleged burial ground of Jesus Christ himself. He sprinkled it throughout the church's cemetery, thus rendering it a widely sought resting place for the dead. The lack of available real estate became particularly problematic after the Bubonic Plague in the 14th century -- the parish found itself overwhelmed with bodies and nowhere to put them -- and a crypt was later erected. The older remains were dug up, cleaned, and stored in said crypt, which -- you guessed it -- filled up pretty quickly too.

It wasn't until 1870 that the property owners commissioned František Rint, a Czech woodcarver, to redecorate and design the chapel using the skeletons. Rint bleached the bones to create a universal color for his designs and arranged them in macabre, chilling sculptures: a massive chandelier, four additional candelabras, several bone pyramids, a family crest, and more. He even inscribed his signature on the wall in bone. The architectural wonder is one of twelve UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Czech Republic -- but for those tourists who'd prefer not to contemplate their mortality and ruminate on the tenuous link between life and death, you might want to stick to Disney World. 

To learn more about the Sedlec Ossuary or plan a visit, check out Kutná Hora's tourism website.


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Meredith Balkus is the homepage editor for Thrillist Video. Please don't use her femur as an accent piece in your apartment after her inevitable death. Follow her @meredithbalkus

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