Thursday 21st April 2011
Kostnice – The Church of Bones
A colleague on the Web made us aware of a church decorated with bones. We looked it up and it was about 90km from our camp so we decided to go.
The weather was glorious and the ride to Kostnice was a little bit fraught, as I got seriously too warm and for some reason had a very itchy nose. I kept muttering through the microphone headset, and having spent the 90km’s scratching my nose, I looked like “Rudolph” by the time we got there, nice. The Church is in a small town, which again was beautifully tended to and interesting.
This Church was surreal. The walls and ceiling were adorned with the bones and skulls of up to 40,000 people. On top of this in each of the 4 corners of the church were a pile of bones neatly stacked that filled in total about half of the floor space. Most of the bones are the legacy of the bubonic plague, and from battles. (There was a cabinet which had skulls with holes in them, showing different types of weapon marks00). It was a very humbling visit.
The decoration is the idea of a half blind monk, who, in 1511, took as many of the bones as possible, initially piled up outside the church, inside, and made the “decorations”, he then piled as many as possible into the 4 “shrines” in the corners and buried the rest in the churchyard outside. Most of the ornate bone structes were made in about 1870 by a famous Czech wood carver, Frantisek Rint.
|One on the “shrines”. An organised pile of bones in the shape of a bell in each of the 4 corners. Note the crown made of wood above it.|
|Part of the Schwarzenbergs Crest. A rook poking out the eye of a Turkish soldier symbolizing their battle victory.|
We then, as part of the same entry ticket, took the two minute walk to the towns cathedral. This place is one of the oldest cathedrals in Europe. It was strange, as we walked inside from the 25 deg heat, the Cathedral was at least 10 degrees colder. Another amazing feat of engineering in a small town.