Kuttna Hora, The Bone Church, and My Corpse
2024 May 22

The other day my colleague invited me to go to Kuttna Hora. It’s a small town about an hour away from Prague. He described it as a town straight up out of fantasy. He was NOT wrong. It’s such a cool town. We visited 3 separate churches and walked around the town. I had a crisis of my own mortality from one of the churches which I will describe later. The wine was very good too. The weather wasn’t great but we made do. It was still super cool to walk around the town.

Fair warning, there are some macabre topics in this post you have been warned. A discussion of death is included in this post. It’s something we live with and you need to think about it.

My colleague picked me up around 9:45 in the morning. We hopped on the highway which was extremely interesting since up until this point I had only been on the railways in Europe. I liked how many roundabouts we went through and the highways are just really picturesque, not at all like your average interstate in America. Although there certainly are sections with big box stores. I definitely do not want to ever drive in Czechia. They have a weird yield but not yield stop sign here that seems complicated, but everyone drives very well.

We parked and got Greek Italian. I got a gyro which was a nice change of pace from the Czech dumplings I’ve been having. We then walked to the first of the churches. The biggest of the 3. This was a very opulent catholic cathedral. A lot of beautiful stained glass all over the place and nice opulent alters. There was a cool balcony from which you could see an older government building. Just a really nice old stone church. It feels really ominous when you walk around this. Feels very alive and ominous.

On the way back to the car to travel to the other churches I tried some Czech wines local to the region. I had a red and a white which were both excellent. I highly recommend sampling the local wine in every part of Europe. You are unlikely to be disappointed. Just feels like a higher standard than what you generally experience back home.

We then went to bone church. Which is a church that features a lot of decorations made out of human remains. This made me feel my own mortality and reminded me even though I’m young I should do my estate planning. I need to plan my own wishes on what exactly I want done to my body when I’m dead. I’m an organ donor so what do I want done with my remains after that. I personally decided I don’t want any recognizable remains to be left over to be displayed in any way shape or form.

The arrangements of the bones were really quite thoughtful, but still quite morbid. The admission was well thought out by requesting people not take pictures within the church but that’s a bit like the Mutter Museum. Yes this is a piece of history and knowledge but I don’t necessarily want things like this shown off and displayed without the context explained (which the Mutter does). I feel like there was some context and history I was missing. My colleague told me the bones were from an invading army, but I still don’t like it. The anatomy displayed in the skulls was definitely interesting and provides quite an interesting record.

As we exited we saw the mandatory goth girl going to visit the bone church.

We then walked to the final church. Which was a very bright and modern looking affair, but has apparently existed since the 1100s or at least the same order was there. There’s not much to say about this. There were more displays. You could see a confession booth (which is a whole conversation to be had about power dynamics within a town). I certainly enjoyed it. Definitely a very big and modern church. I would find these worth a visit.

On the way back to the car, I picked up some post cards as a souvenir of the bone church. I really don’t like the lack of reverence at the gift shop, but hey what are you going to do. Things in bad taste sell well to tourists, so it’s whatever.

I really enjoyed visiting this small town. I would definitely like to visit again. It was a very nice day even with the rain.

Update May 26, 2024 A friend pointed out the actual name of the bone church to me. It’s the Sedlec Ossuary. There’s a lot more history to it than I thought.

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Written by Henry J Schmale on 2024 May 22
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