Visiting the Ossuary in Sedlec

Have you read “The Black Angel” by John Connolly? No? Shame on you then! I hope after you’ve read this blog you’ll be running to the nearest bookshop or your keyboard and order the book right away!

Connolly made the ossuary even more famous after setting a key scene towards the ending of “The Black Angel” there, which features his central characters Charlie Parker, Angel & Louis and one of his most memorable villains yet, the sinister Brightwell. I re-read the scene before going to Sedlec and I even watched the video again where John introduces the ossuary so wonderfully to his readers: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mvzqu5Td9aE
You can also find a great blog entry and much more background info on the ossuary by John Connolly about Sedlec on his website: http://www.johnconnollybooks.com/journalism_sedlec.php
Sedlec is close to Kutna Horá and only a little more than 70 kilometres, about an hour and ten minute drive away from the beautiful city of Prague.
You can reach Sedlec from Prague either by train/bus although I’ve been told that the announcement and signs at the train/bus stations are all in Czech and so I passed on that very cheap alternative.
Sedlec is also enclosed in many daylong tourist excursions (about 7-8 hours time) which include some more places in and around Kutna Horá and cost about 50-70 Euros but considering I had just spent 8 hours on the bus two days before and had to do so again the next day a bus ride was not an option for me.
So I decided to splurge on a private ride to Sedlec with a driver from the hotel.
My close friend Glynis commented our driver looked like the Czech Richard Gere from the KGB. We have to be entirely grateful to him as he saved us from a car crash reacting like what would have done James Bond proud as a fucking douchebag almost crashed into us without looking where he was going.
We arrived at the ossuary a little after 11 am and the sun was still unsure if it should continue fighting with the heavy clouds or give up entirely for the day.
So the scenery at the cemetery and the church was still a little eerie as I entered the doors and went down the few steps leading into the heart of the ossuary itself.
Actually seeing is believing, but at the first impression it was still hard to take in that the huge amount of bones down there had once really all belonged to human beings and were not only props on a film set.
When you are standing in the centre you are welcomed by the huge and extraordinary chandelier made entirely out of bones – every orthopaedist’s wet dream! Four pillars for candles with skulls encircle the chandelier on the ground and I was a little disturbed to see cherubs residing on the tops – not by the skulls themselves.
Now some may think that it is obscene, deviant or unnatural to display human remains like that. I think it was a wonderful way to avoid disposing of the bones and I couldn’t help admire the creativity and the elaborate way the bones had been arranged by Frantisek Rint, a local woodcarver, who had really let his imagination run wild as he had used his skills for an entirely different material.
Surely one of the highlights of the exhibition is the crest of arms of the Schwarzenberg family that had employed Rint in the year 1870 in the first place.
Unfortunately, however, the quiet and unusual place turned into some kind of a fairground when around noon hordes of tourists started streaming into the place and the unique and peculiar mood was immediately destroyed.
Another tourist questioned me if I found the place eerie and if I could feel the presence of ghosts there. He was a little disappointed when I told him the only thing eerie for me were the many tourists and that I don’t believe in ghosts – poor chap. Next time I’ll lie just for humanitarian reasons.
The bone church of Sedlec is really a unique place and if you think about going to Prague you should spare a few hours to make the trip to Sedlec – it is truly worth it!
Just take my advice and make it as early in the morning as possible to avoid being run over by either crowds of people and/or prams.
You can find more information about Sedlec on Wikipedia and of course the official website.
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