The Best Churches in Czech Republic

If you have more time in Prague then you can see some of the amazing Churches outside of Prague including Sedlec Ossuary (Kutna Hora) and the Church of St John of Nepomuk in Zelena Hora.

Discvovering Sedlec Ossuary – The Bone Church Prague

(by Chrysoula from travelpassionate.com)

Prague to Kutna Hora

Sedlec Ossuary, or as it’s more commonly known, the Prague Bone Church, is the oldest Cistercian Monastery in Bohemia. Founded in 1142, the church is located in the town of Kutna Hora, about an hour outside of Prague. It’s said that the Abbot of the Sedlec Monastery brought a handful of soil back from his pilgrimage to the Holy Land making the Sedlec cemetery one of the most desirable burial sites in central Europe.

Inside Bone Church Prague, Kutna Hora
Inside Bone Church Prague, Kutna Hora

The chapel is decorated with the bones of somewhere between 40,000 and 70,000 human skeletons as a memento mori to those buried there, around 30,000 of which are estimated to have been plague victims. Although there have been bones in the church for hundreds of years, they didn’t come into their current decorative form until 1870 when the Schwarzenberg family commissioned woodcarver FrantišekRint to decorate the chapel with the piles of bones that were harbored in the church’s crypt.

The eerie décor consists of a chandelier made of every bone in the human body, strings of skulls and bones strung up like crepe paper at a birthday party, and the coat of arms of the patron family. The display is meant to remind the church’s visitors of the impermanence of human life and the inevitability of death.

Pilgrimage Church of St John of Nepomuk in Zelena Hora

(by Joel Baldwin of www.worldheritagejourney.com)

The Pilgrimage Church of St John of Nepomuk is one of the most unusual churches you’re ever likely to see. It sits on a small hill (Zelena Hora) near the small town of Zdar nad Sazavou in the centre of Czech Republic.  

Zelena Hora

The History of the Pilgrimage Church of St John of Nepomuk

It dates back to around 1720, and is dedicated to St John of Nepomuk, a saint and folk hero to Czechs. John was a priest and confessor to the Queen of Bohemia; when the Queen was accused of adultery, John refused to break the seal of her confession and for his trouble he was martyred by drowning in Prague’s Vltava River. Since then, he’s been a patron saint of Bohemia, and there’s statues and images of him everywhere! John is easy to spot as he’s always depicted with five stars on his halo, which miraculously appeared over the site of his death.    

Five Chapels, Five Altars, Five Entrances!

Background aside, the church itself is absolutely incredible. The number five keeps symbolically appearing over and over again – there are five chapels inside, five altars, and five entrance gates to the cloister (itself a pair of overlaid five-pointed stars).

Even the church itself takes the shape of a five-pointed star! The stars are also a recurring motif, popping up on walls, windows, ceilings, doorframes, and more. Decoration both inside and out is fairly minimal, but it’s the architecture here that’s the real star. All in all it’s a fascinating spot with a uniquely Czech history, and well worth adding to your itinerary in Bohemia!

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