Kostnice Ossuary © Rhys Alton
The Kostnice Ossuary, also known as the Sedlec Ossuary or the Church of Bones, is a unique experience for intrepid travellers. The medieval Gothic chapel is decorated with the remains of about 40,000 human skeletons, including an immense chandelier. While it is considered macabre by some, the skeletons belonged to people who wished to be buried in the Ossuary, which they considered a holy place; they were all victims of the plague, according to the displays. The famous chandelier contains at least one example of every bone in the human body and, despite its somewhat gruesome building material, is a truly impressive work of art. There are other sculptures and decorations pieced together intricately with bones and the effect is remarkably artistic. Having said that, the Ossuary is a sacred place and the atmosphere is one of worship and peace. The effect of death turned into art is triumphant as well as a little spooky and it is a fascinating example of religious devotion and faith as well as a unique work of art. It is worth reading up on the history of the Ossuary and the area before visiting the chapel as the experience is greatly enriched by some background knowledge.