I must admit I was slightly devastated when I found out it was a long weekend this week. A) because if I had of known earlier it would have been the perfect opportunity to travel somewhere, and B) I am finally starting to feel like university is starting to get moving. So the result has been me frantically trying to search for something to do this weekend. In desperation I turned to my old faithful Sandemans New Europe for a day trip out to the town of Kutná Hora.
On the way to the train station in Prague we passed this intriguing building, the Jerusalem Synagogue. Apparently it is even more phenomenal inside, so I will be sure to check it out again another day!
Kutná Hora is about an hours train ride south of Prague, and was once the site of a bustling trade of coin minting due to the proliferation of silver mines in the area. Nowadays, the main industry is tourism. Our first stop was the Sedlec Ossuary, or more commonly known as the Bone Church of Kutna Hora.
So yes, the interior of this church has been decorated with hundreds and thousands of human bones. Back in the day (ie. 1300s) a plague swarmed the area, resulting in thousands of deaths. Bodies were put into a mass grave, and subsequent religious wars further added to them. After some time it was decided that a church was to be erected in the area (allegedly holy as someone through holy dirt on it), and the graves were dug up. It was thought that throwing the bones away would be dishonourable, so they were kept, and later utilised to decorate the church.
Some skulls were removed from the decorations and put on display due to the remarkable nature of them. And by remarkable, they meant the cause of death was clearly visible on the skull. Oh, and don’t worry – all the bones have been disinfected!
After perusing the Bone Church, we headed onto our next stop: the Church of St Barbara. It was impressive, to say the least. Apparently it was built to rival the St Vitus’ Chapel back at the Prague Castle.
One side of the church featured more extravagant chapels erected for rich families who donated to the church. The other side featured more traditional painted chapels, that told the stories of various saints. The creepy looking giant man below depicts St Christopher, the patron saint of travel.
The paintings were slightly humorous in retrospect, as they show how isolated everyone was hundreds of years ago. The above painting is meant to have some relation to Africa. To you and I, we can instantly imagine the African savannah and wildlife, thanks to tv and google. But back in the day they weren’t as sure about it all, so the animals in the picture look slightly odd (the lion looked like a dog with a mane) and they have also gone to great lengths to ensure that you know you are looking at a picture of Africa (even painting a genie).
The church also paid heed to the miners that were the foundation of Kutná Hora. This statue depicts one of the poor men, nearly blind from the days spent underground.
Hope all is well back in Australia. I hear you are having wonderfully warm weather, whilst I am freezing to death. And it is only going to get colder!