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Discovering horror in a chapel of bones

Discovering horror in a chapel of bones

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.

Kutna Hora bone chapel

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.

Kutna Hora bone chapel

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.

Kutna Hora bone chapel

Kutna Hora bone chapel

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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Ashlea Wheeler

Blogger & Photographer at A Globe Well Travelled
I'm Ashlea, an excitable Australian who loves photography and exploring the world. Find out more about me.

17 Responses to “Discovering horror in a chapel of bones”

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      As creepy as it is, the fact that someone thought to do something as crazy as arrange human bones into decoration is pretty intriguing!

      Reply
  1. Alex Conomos

    I was quite taken with this church, more so than the catacombs of Paris. The bones come together like art!

    Reply
  2. dean reinke

    The Capuchin Crypt is a famous Bone Church in Rome, decorated with 3700 skeletons. Only a few of our group wanted to visit it.

    Reply
  3. Christina Johns

    I was lucky enough to have experienced this amazing, though creepy, church last year. Reading your post makes me want to go visit again! This history behind the location is just so fascinating to me.

    Reply
  4. Kirstie

    Wow, what a crazy looking place! The Catacombs of Paris were creepy enough, but that bone artwork is nuts!

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      I’ve been to Paris twice and never seen the catacombs, but people keep mentioning them to me. Must be worth a visit!

      Reply
  5. Amy Baker

    Wow! That chandelier is really something! I’ve been to the Cappuchin Crypt in Rome and the St Francis Convent in Lima, and their macabre bone decor can’t touch this.

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      The chandelier is the best part of it I think – it’s so creepy with those perfectly arranged bones in the shape of an everyday object! There seem to be plenty of bone-related attractions in Europe, maybe a tour of them all is in order? 😛

      Reply
  6. Avichai

    I had no clue about this! so cool and creepy. Just visited the Catacombs in Paris but this will definitely be an interesting place to visit. Thanks

    Reply
  7. Eren

    Going to Prague this week and this place is definitely on my to-do list! Can’t wait, it looks stunning. Did they do any tours in the church?

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      That’s great Eren, I’m sure you will love it! There are no tours inside the church as there’s limited space in there so they can’t really have people hanging around for long periods of time. The day tour I did included a commentary before we entered, and also answered some questions from the group after we exited.

      Reply

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