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A Week in Prague: Day 3

By Thursday, August 07, 2014 , , ,

Since we were staying a whole week in Prague, we thought it might be nice to take a day trip away from the city. We'd heard about a mysterious 'bone church' not far from Prague, and took the opportunity to investigate.

We bought our train tickets at the main station, Hlavní Nádraží, where the teller very helpfully wrote down the stations where we would have to switch and the times of the next train to catch for us.

Kutna Hora 

Instead of seeing the osuary right away, we first visited the main part of Kutna Hora, where we got some lunch and walked to St Barbara's Cathedral.

Looking out over the view, we noticed a mysterious face in the forest gazing back at us. I couldn't figure out who he was, but I did snap a photo of the plaque nearby, to translate later.

Which says something like (italics mine):

Across the valley Vrhlice in rock relief
Jaroslav Vrchlický (Jaroslav Vrchlický was a Czech poet with a big mustache)
Left: Hradek, sv. Jacob
Italian Court A Mother of God (I assume this refers to a statue to the left)Vpozadi: top Kaňkovská, Sedlec
New Court, and Les Chateau Kačina
Right: Church of the Holy Trinity

The original orientation board given by the Czechoslovakian Tourist District Club was made ​​in the foundry of Antonio Smrkovsky in Kutna Hora and stolen in 2007. The new board was made ​​at the expense of the town of Kutna Hora in 2008.
Below us, we could look into the back yards of some of the houses. The main reason I chose my current camera over comparable models is the zoom capabilities, which are quite often used to take photos of fluffy beasties from afar:

While we did not go in St Barbara's, it is a beautiful little Gothic cathedral you reach by walking along a statue studded promenade with amazing views. Although it was not the most interesting part of the day's trip, it was nice to be able to look around at the rest of what the town had to offer.

The Sedlec Ossuary

After circling around St Barbara's, we walked back to the station, and took the little regional train to Sedlec to see the famous Ossuary.

The first thing that surprised me about the Osuuary was how small it was. From the photos I'd seen, I was expecting something far grander and melodramatic. Instead, it looked more like a small chapel with some gravestone of various ages around it. The other thing that surprised me was how how happy and friendly the two women working inside were! They handed out laminated pages of information in your requested language, including to man overjoyed at finding they had historical information in Portuguese. Overall a very upbeat introduction to the skulls and bones just a few meters away.

According to the information handed to us, the Czech king sent an Abbot to Jerusalem around 1278. The Abbot returned with soil from Golgotha (also called Calvary, where according to the Christian Gospels is where Jesus was crucified), which he spread over the cemetery. The soil from Jerusalem made the graveyard Holy Land, and people from all over Europe requested to be buried there. As you can imagine, it got quiet crowded.

Add to that the Plague of the 14th century, which led to 30,000 people buried there. More came after the Hussite wars, which also led to the destruction of the cathedral, monastery and cemetery Church. During the rebuilding, the area designated for burials was reduced, and the bone left outside of the area were dug up and moved inside the ossuary.

At the end of the 15th Century, according to legend, a half blind monk's sight returned to him after he created the bone and skull pyramids in the ossuary today. The macabre decor seems to have expanded through the following years, but it was Jan Blažej Santini-Aichel who really embraced the aesthetic in the early 18th Century and designed the chandeliers, garlands and added the cherubs.

I'm planning on doing a post solely on the ossuary with more photos - maybe for Halloween? 

 After looking around, we walked to main station and made our way back to Prague.

We grabbed some coffees in a small place called Tricafe, where I overheard an English lesson. I kept wanting to join in when the teacher asked his students where their last holiday was to, where they were from, etc.! 

There was also some great record art on walls, with cut outs forming silhouettes of musicians and dancers, famous people with their signatures, and abstract designs. I wish I'd taken more photos of them! Here's a snapshot by Alina Nanu, on instagram, via Iconosquare.com

Lehka Hlava turned out to be worth the wait. The staff seemed a little distracted, but we had a really great meal for about 21.50€: two ginger lemonaids, an appitizer, and two entrees. I got the red curry, which is one of my favorite dishes, and my husband, usually a meat eater, got a red beet burger.

We walked along the Vltava river before heading back to the western side. Such a beautiful sunset!

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