Sep 20

SEDLEC CHAPEL IN PRAGUE – THE INCREDIBLE BUILDING MADE OF HUMAN BONES

Although it welcomes thousands of tourists each year, the church in Sedlec is little known and not so much promoted. Partly because of the rather morbid history and architecture that is has.

But for those who have an appetite for gloomy experiences, here is what to expect.

Viewed from outside, the church does not seem to be anything special from others of the same bill, common in Central and Western Europe. But its little secret is one of the great achievements of mankind: the strength to face the feeling of helplessness in the face of death, played in artistic accepted – a variety of aesthetic ugliness, with remarkable results. Or maybe is it an ode to the human body?!

Human architecture… literally. That is the ossuary, a Roman Catholic chapel located near All Saints Cemetery in Sedlec, a suburb of Kutna Hora, Czech Republic. Although in 1870, when the interior has been reinvented, there were no courses in design, contemporary architects agree on the fact that Frantisek Rint did a very good job, even though his work may not necessarily represent a source of inspiration. Church near the cemetery of All Saints, pieces of furniture, chandeliers, decorating walls, family crest Schwarzenberg and even signature decorator are made of human bones, masterfully combined to give an air of uniqueness of a place that otherwise would not be able to cross the threshold of anonymity.

The skeletons of some 40 000 people are in the small chapel, but chose destiny after death as their eternal sleep to spend at least one form … unusual. The skulls and bones are everywhere and intersect to create the most fantastic scenery imagined. Stringing orderly human material shows that nothing happens by chance, while marking a different perspective on art. The piece de resistance is the chandelier that contains bones that enters the human body structure. His presence was turned into a game popular among visitors who tried to find out whose bones correspond anatomical parts lined up on the ceiling of the church.

One of the great obsessions of mankind is represented by physical form that the human spirit takes to fulfill the “mission” to Earth. Most dreamers of them have tried to integrate this material into spiritual shape, giving it an artistic dimension. From tattoos, piercing, body beauty techniques, all methods tested. Framing religious human space, is perhaps the ultimate form that the body has chosen to worship art.

The history begins in 1278, when Henry, abbot of the monastery of Cistercian order was trims in Jerusalem by King Otakar II of Bohemia. In return, he brought with him a small amount of land Golgotha, which he spread it in the abbey cemetery. The good news was quickly spread and the result was an increased number of requests for final resting places. Later, two other events had to multiply the number of those buried there. Plague – the Black Death of the Middle Ages, and fights against Hussites led to a significant increase in the cemetery area.

Only in 1870, a wood carver, František Rint would definitely make their mark on their specific church. It had to solve a serious problem, which neither his predecessors had not been able to give him head. Bones, increasingly more, they had no place to be stored and throw their version was not one too “orthodox”. The idea of “saving” who came Rint’s turned into a regular church high on the list of objectives in the Czech Republic. One that it has commissioned sculptor accomplishment of the work were none other than the powerful Schwarzenberg aristocratic family, who possess the Sedlec. Love for art was rewarded by Rint by representing the family coats of arms, what else? … Of human bones. Restoration and “beauty” lasted three years. Rint used for decorating bones arranged in pyramid shape by the monk half blind, but before he milled, to keep a uniform color.

A strange curiosity, an interesting lesson in anatomy, a meditation on death or macabre masterpiece? The answer remained the appreciation of visitors, and most said that, far from being scary place reassuring and defers them the opportunity to reflect on life and death.

Visiting hours & Costs
The church can be visited daily, except 24th and 25th December. The schedule is set according to the season. Thus, from April to September, the church is open to visitors between 8:00 and 18:00 in October and March, between 9:00 and 17:00, and during November to February, the church is open from 9: 00 to 16:00. Entrance fee for adults is 50 kronor, students and children over 9 years pay 30 crowns, while families pay a single fee of 130 crowns. If you like thrills and would like to visit the church at night (between 8 pm and 12 pm) have to decide ahead of time to make a bookings for a fee of 100 crowns per person. A Czech koruna is equivalent to 0.148 RON. For transport, you can take the tourist bus that goes through downtown.

Transport & Accommodation
Due to the prosperous silver mines in Kutna Hora, the location became, after Prague, the second item on the list of most important cities of the Bohemian kingdom in the Middle Ages. Currently, the town is part of UNESCO. Even if you are staying in Prague deserves to sacrifice a day of the holiday to visit this area, away from a specific European capitals. Besides the ossuary in Sedlec in Kutna Hora you can also visit the Church of St. Barbara and Italian Court. The best opportunity, if they choose Prague as a hub is to opt for one of the trips organized, during which you will benefit from a guide.

Prague to Kutna Hora you can take the train or bus. Best bet would be to ask the information because the staff there is always ready to answer questions with updated information.

Hotels in Kutna Hora idea are cheaper than Prague, a double room at the hotel, ranging from 52 Euros per night and 76 Euros per night.

Photo source:

Picture 1: kuriositas.com; Picture 2: kuriositas.com; Picture 3: cloudmind.info; Picture 4: kalmistopiiri.wordpress.com; Picture 5: thisgirlabroad.com; Picture 6: ourtravelpics.com
Aug 29

THE LEGEND OF THE ASTRONOMICAL CLOCK IN PRAGUE

The legend of the Astronomical Clock in Prague, which you can find in the Old Square, seems to come straight from the tales of the Brothers Grimm. Its dark history is rooted in the 15th century, when the clock was created by the great watchmakers of those times, named  Mikulas of Kadan (who used to be known by the name of Master Hanus). He had such a highly respected reputation that Mikulas was contacted by a lot of representatives in many different countries, in their endeavor to persuade the watchmaker to build others astronomical clocks abroad, as well, to be placed and admired by locals and passers-by in the midst of the important squares in the most representative cities. But Mikulas refused to show his art work plans, respecting his pledge and word of honor that he had given in front of the municipal councilors of Prague.

Yet worried that Mikulas could build a bigger clock elsewhere, that another nation could enjoy the privilege to admire a better and more beautiful clock, the councilors of the city built a plot against Master Hanus and they blinded him, to ensure that such a clock will never be reproduced. Distraught, the clock-maker decided to take revenge: aided by a disciple, he went to the clock tower and ruined its mechanism, so no one knew how to fix it for about a century. He also cursed the clock, so that everybody who have tried to repair it have gone mad or died.

Of course, this is just a legend, but it stands as a true testament to this fantastic creation that the astronomical clock in the Czech capital is. Since 1380, when it was conceived, the clock has been altered, destroyed and repaired many times. In any case, it is the most famous astronomical clock in the world, has four automatic mechanisms and a rotating dial on which the 12 apostles are placed in a specific order and they change with every hour. It displays the Babylonian time, old Bohemia hour, the German time and sidereal time. It can decipher the phases of the moon and rotation of the sun in the zodiacal constellation. The calendar clock face that is placed below shows the day of the month, the day of week, and the religious holidays, and later on, in the 1800’s, another watchmaker, Josef Manes, added the symbols of the 12 horoscope signs to the original mechanism in the form of allegorical paintings depicting the signs of the zodiac.

Probably one of the best-known symbols of Prague is the astronomic clock placed on the Southern wall of the City Hall and it is one of the most fascinating pieces of its kind if we keep in mind that it was built in the 15th century. There is a tragic legend that accompanies this masterpiece: it is said that after having been blinded by the greedy and vain officials, managed to recreate the clock, after all, and afterwards he threw himself off the top of the mechanism and died. But his clock is still working perfectly.

Photo source:

Pic1: fashionistasdaily.wordpress.com; Picture 2: independent.co.uk; Picture 3: trip101.com; Picture 4: free-city-guides.com; Picture 5: orloj.eu; Picture 6: christopherkulawik.com; Picture 7: commons.wikimedia.org
Jul 01

THE UNUSUAL LANDMARKS OF PRAGUE (PRAHA)

Gothic-medieval atmosphere is still alive today in Prague’s Old Town, which is considered one of the best preserved architectural areas in Europe. What is not known is that behind more than a thousand years, Prague was a town of alchemists, a place where secrets have all been gathered over time, many of them remain unresolved until today.

The Hebrew Cemetery in Prague

It might sound strange, but Hebrew Cemetery in Prague is one of the most important tourist attractions in Europe and one of the oldest Hebrew cemeteries in the world, according to some records dating back to the 10th century, and according to others in the 15th century.

Like Umberto Eco’s novel that made the cemetery famous, the cemetery itself is a place that must be understood layer to layer, as graves level some over others. In some places there are even 10 layers of tombs from different periods. Many of them are no longer visible, but are completely buried in the ground.

If you are fascinated by the stone statues and burial inscriptions you have to spend a few hours in the Hebrew Cemetery searching for graves dating back hundreds of years. Surely you cannot cover all the 12,000 graves, but you will learn so many things about the history and the traditions of these people. It’s good to know that the cemetery is almost always full of curious people walking the cobblestone alleys, so if you opt for a city break in Prague’s good to get the early hours of the morning.

Bohnice Cemetery

Perhaps this cemetery located in the northern part of Prague is not as popular as the Hebrew Cemetery, but certainly is as mysterious, maybe even has a more mysterious aura than the previous. A few hundred years ago, Bohnice was just a village near the capital and in just 100 years the place had become a major psychiatric hospital.

In the cemetery, there are more than 3,000 graves, and many commemorative plates not even readable. So it’s really a place where nature has erased almost every trace of people who were buried there. If you want to discover a cemetery where almost everybody is neglecting because it’s not on the touristic map and the relatives of the deceased have disappeared one by one, you can put it on the list then visit the Bohnice Cemetery while staying in Prague.

Today, the cemetery’s chapel is in ruin and many of the graves are covered with ivy. The place is almost scary, so be careful not to catch the night there.

Museum of MedievalTorture

It’s not necessarily a place where you feel comfortable, but it’s one of the darkest of Prague museums that you can visit precisely because it tells a different story about a less pleasant side of humanity.

In a special gallery of the Museum of Torture in Prague you will find a widely complex torture toolkit especially used for the alleged witches or heretics; among them there are masks of steel, spiked chairs and lots of documents explaining how torture should be applied to individuals who would disobey the law, whether religious or social.

The museum is not hard to find, it is on the Celetna Street in old town, right near the Carol Bridge which surely you walk on if you choose a city break in Prague. Carol Bridge is one of the most popular places in Prague. From there you can explore the city’s Gothic history. Like many places in Prague, the medieval legends of this bridge say that cannot be broken down. And if you believe in superstitions, you can make a wish on Carol Bridge as they say that it comes true. All you have to do is touch the cross placed on the bridge following the death of an innocent man.

Devil’s Column

If you like to discover places that are not in guidebooks, then you could avoid congestion at the Prague Castle or in front of the Tower Clock and venture instead into one of the oldest neighborhoods in Prague, Vysehrad. You can visit the Vysehrad Castle on the banks of the Vltava, the once imposing Gothic ruins.

Vysehrad area is quite mysterious also due to the legends saying that there might be an extremely valuable treasure buried in the area, but also because there are many underground galleries, some of them accessible to the public. But the object whose history is more shrouded in mystery than any other is the Devil’s Column, whose origin is uncertain. The three stone columns might have been a part of a Roman basilica, as well as a clock lasting from the period when the early Slavs have settled in the area. Another legend says that the stone had been thrown by the devil himself in rage, when he lost a bet with a priest.

The House of Dr. Faustus

A regular house in Prague or elsewhere is not a tourist objective, normally, be it and obscure, if it hadn’t been for someone would have lived or died there. But this does not apply when it comes to the House of Faustus in Prague, known for its dark history has added to the city’s urban mythology.

Like many other places in Prague, Faustus’s House is also a place with a history of hundreds of years, from when alchemists tried all sorts of potions. If you liked Doctor Faustus and many stories or fictional works that have transformed Dr. Faustus us into a legendary character, you could visit his house just for the simple fact that here, they say, had lived Dr. Faustus himself.

Depending on where you accommodation in Prague is, you can reach this landmark by underground or bus down to Carol Square, where the House of Faustus is located. Another mysterious story is linked to the place where the house was built. Even today the locals call the area by the name Na Morani, as it’s said that, in medieval times here there people performed sacrifices in the name of Goddess Morana. The House of Dr. Faustus cannot be visited inside, only admired from the outside, as the estate belongs to the Faculty of Medicine of the University St. Carol.

And these are only few things you can see while in Prague. Get ready for the continuation…

Photo source

Picture 1: avantgarde-prague.com; Picture 2: tripadvisor.com; Picture 3: keyword-suggestions.com; Picture 4: private-prague-guide.com; Picture 5: geolocation.ws; Picture 6: waymarking.com; Picture 7: mcgeesghosttours.com
Apr 18

THE ETERNAL AND AGELESS PRAGUE (PRAHA)

The capital of the Czech Republic, Prague, is, by rights, considered one of the most beautiful cities in the world. You can visit Prague any time of the year, and each season adds a flavour of its own to the already spectacular city. You need more than a lifetime to discover it thoroughly and it will always save yet another undiscovered surprise to the insatiable visitor. It is sheer bliss to walk around the streets of Old Prague and New Prague and never get tired of it.

praga1

http://voyage.gentside.com/

Probably one of the best-known symbols of Prague is the astronomic clock placed on the Southern wall of the City Hall and it is one of the most fascinating pieces of its kind if we keep in mind that it was built in the 15th century: it shows the hours – each hour of the day is marked by a statue of each of the Twelve Apostles that appears when the hour changes, the months and the position of the Sun and Moon on the sky and later on, in the 1800s, another watchmaker, Josef Manes, added the symbols of the 12 horoscope signs to the original mechanism. There is a tragic legend that accompanies this masterpiece: it is said that Master Hanus, the watchmaker who created the clock, was blinded by the local officials so that he won’t reproduce this technical wonder elsewhere. Despite this, he managed to recreate it and afterwards he threw himself off the top of the mechanism and died. But his clock is still working perfectly.

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http://www.czechtourism.com/

Another spectacular piece of architecture is Saint Vitius Cathedral, part of the Prague Castle, and it defies the overall elegance of the city with its French Gothic style. It is the largest church in the country as it incorporates several chapels and tombs of the kings and queens of Bohemia, and Catholic saints, turning it into a pilgrimage spot. Visitors are allowed to climb the 287 steps to the top of the bell tower and admire the breathtaking panorama of Prague.

The Prague Castle is the world’s best preserved and widest Medieval complex, but it is not a castle in its general meaning, as the construction plan is designed horizontally, instead of vertically. Besides, several edifices have different architectural styles. The surrounding quarter of this perimeter is named Hradcany and is crossed by the Vltava River.

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http://www.placestoseeinyourlifetime.com/

Outside the complex the visitor can indulge in buying souvenirs from one of the many booths across the Golden Street and visit Saint George Basilica, the Art Museum and the Mihulka Tower, where, long ago, it was the quarter of Alchemists who had been constantly working to discover the secret formula that could transform all metals into gold.

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http://www.eacpt.eu/

Another spectacular site is the Karluv Bridge, a Baroque monument whose construction lasted for about 45 years and it was made at the King’s order. It was built in the 13th century by King Karluv the Fourth and it crosses the Danube River. It is probably one of the most popular touristic sites in Prague, as it is always filled with musicians that offer the visitors a free performance throughout the day.

The Dancing House – formerly known as “Fred and Ginger” (the nickname of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers), as it was said that it resembles a dancing couple – is a marvelous piece of modern architecture that defies the law of gravity and all the rules of classic architecture and was finished in 1996. It had become so popular that they printed a coin with its symbol. Despite its eccentric appearance, it fits perfectly into the rest of the ensemble.

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Prague is the city of never-ending reconstruction, in order to preserve all the buildings whose continuity represents the fuel of national identity and tourism and the pride of its inhabitants, but that will not upset the guests too much, as there are plenty of sights that you can see and enjoy their spectacular beauty.