An ossuary is the final resting place for the human bodies all left with nothing but skulls and bones. Their skeletal remains come from the temporary graves their dead bodies were first buried. An ossuary can be any place where you can store human bones such as a tomb, a building, a well, or even a box. Well, it can also be your own bedroom! (Just kidding) Jokes aside, these ossuaries are found around the world and you can find many of them in Europe.
One popular ossuary in Europe is found in Czech Republic , known as Sedlec ossuary. Take note before scrolling down, you’re about to have a good dose of photos with nothing but skulls and bones! So if you’re ready, let’s wander inside Sedlec Ossuary and know the interesting (and creepy) facts about it.
1. The Sedlec Ossuary isn’t just your ordinary storage room for human skeletal remains. It is also a chapel, your typical old Gothic church, in the suburbs of Kutna Hora, an hour away from Prague by car.
2. It is the home of the more than 40,000 human skeletons used as decorations.
3. The cemetery was one of the most desired burial sites all over Bohemia and the rest of Central Europe because of the “holy soil” sprinkled around it. The soil was brought by the abbot of Sedlec from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem where Jesus was crucified.
4. The cemetery where the ossuary stands extended and took 30,000 bodies during the 14th century plague.
5. After the Black Death (plague), the cemetery took more bodies after the Hussite Wars in the early 15th century.
6. The Gothic church was built in the center of the cemetery with a vaulted upper level and a lower chapel that was first used as the main ossuary for the bones dug out from the cemetery to make room for new bodies.
7. A half-blind Cistercian monk took charge in digging out the bones from the cemetery and stacked them inside the ossuary.
8. It was in 1870 when a local woodcarver, Frantisek Rint, was hired by the Schwarzenberg noble family. He took the task of decorating the chapel using the bones.
9. Between the years 1703 and 1710, the chapel was remodeled in Czech baroque style by the famous Czech architect Jun Santini Aichel. A new entrance was built to support the leaning front wall.
10. The human skeletons inside the Sedlec Ossuary were all bleached to create a uniform look.
11. Every decoration you’ll see inside is made of bones, including the two bone chalices, four baroque bone candelabras, six bone pyramids, and skull candle-holders.
12. The one you won’t miss staring at is the centerpiece chandelier which is almost composed of every human bone.
13. There’s also the bone coat-of-arms of the Schwarzenberg noble family displayed on the left-hand side of the chapel.
14. The Sedlec Ossuary is located beneath the Cemetery Church of All Saints in Sedlec.
15. It is also known as the “Bone Church” and the “Skull Church”.
16. It is one of the twelve World Heritage Sites in Czech Republic.
17. Czech animator and filmmaker, Jan Svankmajer, was commissioned to create a documentary (watch the video below) about the ossuary. The original version was actually banned by the Czech Communist authorities for alleged subversion (transforming established social order) but was later used again.
When On Earth Magazine is for people who love travel. We provide informative travel guides, tips, ideas and advice regarding places to see, things to do, what to taste, and much more for world travelers seeking their next dream vacation destination.