I have a strange obsession with dark tourism.
My plans to visit Cesky Krumlov had fallen through as I’d discovered only a rare few tourists make the overpriced day trip during winter. The charming atmosphere of the picturesque Czech township would be at a seasonal low, so I’d be wandering sadly alone through the usually overcrowded streets.
Instead, I was packed tightly onto a train carriage on my way to Kutná Hora’s ‘Bone Chapel’ – something I’d heard nothing of until my arrival in Prague a few days prior.
Intrigued by the idea that my thirst for all things dark and mysterious might be satisfied, I signed myself up for a day trip from Prague to Kutna Hora.
My expectation was to have a grand, haunted church become slowly visible through the fog as a werewolf howled in the distance. A scene that might have been pulled from a thriller where some sort of terrifying monster is biding his time, ready to pray on unsuspecting tourists.
On arrival at the station, we were presented with a small, fairly average looking chapel. Scattered headstones lined our way to the entrance, each of them partly sunk and pointing in odd directions.
Slightly disappointed at the lack of horror movie scenes, I secretly hoped that the inside would provide a little more shock value.
Our group slowly filtered through the door, impatiently waiting for the tourists ahead who had stopped for photos as they entered. As my turn came along and I began making my descent into the chapel, I realised that this is exactly what I’d been seeking – that mash up of horror and curiosity that surfaces when experiencing something as bizarre as standing alongside the remains of over 40,000 people.
My fingertips brushed over the head of one forgotten plague victim, whose scalp had gone shiny from the touch of thousands of tourists.
Towering piles of skulls sat in one corner, their hollow eye sockets seemingly watching my every move as I passed by.
I gawked at a wall which proudly featured the family crest of the chapel’s owners, grotesquely arranged with bones from every part of the body.
A sense of satisfaction washed over me as I looked up to admire the truly massive chandelier of leg bones and pelvises that hung precariously above my head.
Dark tourism may be a strange obsession to have, but it sure gets my adrenaline pumping. If that classifies me as insane, then so be it – I’ll admit I’m a little crazy.
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