Cesky Krumlov 


I could throw up all over Cesky Krumlov and it would still be the prettiest damn town I’ve ever seen. It’s a fairytale village that fits perfectly in the palm of your hand. Cobblestone corridors, a winding river, small white cottages with brick-red roofs and an impressive castle that looms over it all: Cesky Krumlov is freakin’ adorable. Immediately upon arrival at our hostel we knew we wanted to stay longer.

“Well this is the cutest town I’ve ever seen.” 

It was decided right then and there. We’re staying.

Krumlov is a Czech word that means “Meander”. The town was named after the river that “meander’s” it’s way through the city in a big “S” shaped loop. A large, baroque castle is built into the rock face on the North side of the river. From there, the entirety of Cesky Krumlov can be seen below. The flowing river, the green hills in the distance, and the whole town all squeezing into the space between your thumb and forefinger. 

The town is flooded with rooftop terraces and riverside patios waiting to be lounged on. Cafe’s and small pubs scatter the labyrinth of small corridors that envelop the city. They even have a wonderful brewery that makes their own “smokey beer” that is oddly delightful. 

We spent our time in Cesky Krumlov relaxing. Long morning breakfasts, walks around town, checking up on the bear moat (yes, the castle has a moat with live bears instead of water) and figuring out where to eat next. 

But there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to Krumlov. The town is rich with history and folklore. Ghosts run rampant in the town’s music school and spirits can be seen in the centre square. The castle was once ruled by a schizophrenic prince who threw his wife from the window of the castle. She survived the multi-storey fall miraculously after a tree softened her fall. She swore never to return to her husband again. But then the mad prince captured the princess’ father and threatened to kill him unless she returned. Reluctantly, she came back to the castle. The prince stabbed her to death only a few days later. 

And yet, even with all the gruesome history, the castle is still a sight to behold. It’s towering grey walls cling to the cliff side to create an imposing spectacle from the town below. And at night, large spotlights make the castle burst into an amber glow that can be seen from all over Cesky Krumlov. 

We were sad to see the city go as we packed up our bags to catch the morning bus to Salzburg. But there’s so much more to see and the crisp evening weather means it’s time to head South. Until next time Cesky Krumlov! 

Advertisements

The Bone Church


“We’re going to a church filled with bones!” I announced to Jodon as I came in from my day on the town. He looked at me over his computer screen, less than impressed.

“What?”

“It’s a church, with bones!”

“Ok. If you want” he said in the same nonchalant way he agrees to everything I suggest.

“My tour guide said it just made the top 100 things to see before you die list!” I went on, hoping for more enthusiasm.

“Ok.” He said again. Waiting for Jodon to be more enthusiastic about anything is like pulling teeth. I looked it up anyway.

The Sedlec Ossuary, better known as the “Bone Church” is a 15th century church in the Sedlec neighbourhood of a small town called Kutna Hora. The story goes, that in the late 13th century, the abbot of the nearby monastery, travelled to the holy land and received a small amount of earth. He sprinkled the holy earth around the abbey cemetery and the land became sacred. The cemetery soon became the most desirable place to be buried in Central Europe, and people came from all over to bury their loved ones. By the mid 14th century nearly 30 000 bodies were buried in mass graves within the cemetery grounds. After the Hussite wars and the Black Death, another 10 000 bodies were added to the area. 

Soon after, a small church was built on the cemetery grounds to act as an ossuary for the dead. A half-blind monk was given the labouring task of exhuming the bodies and placing them in the chapel. The monk took the bodies and arranged the bones in elaborate decorations around the chapel. He built garlands of skulls, a detailed replica of the Schwarzenberg coat of arms, and an insane bone chandelier that held at least one of every bone in the human body. Legend has it, when the monk finished with all the bones, he miraculously regained his sight. This is the Sedlec Ossuary.

It was a quick one hour train ride to Kutna Hora from Prague. We met a couple travellers on the train that had equally limited knowledge of the ossuary.

“Do you even know what this is?” One of them asked us on the train.

The consensus was: there were going to be lots of bones.

The church was smaller than we imagined. Just a modest-sized, simple church from the outside. The steps at the front led down to the underground ossuary where the bones were held. The remains of 40000 bodies lay within this small church. Four massive bell-shaped mounds of skulls were found in each of the four corners of the church. The ceilings and walls sported garlands of bones like some sort of twisted Halloween party decoration. The coat of arms hung on the wall and was so detailed it was hard to imagine these bones as belonging to real people at one time. 

The place was strange, to be sure, and maybe a little eerie at points. All in all, however, we found the place to be slightly underwhelming. The chandelier that hung in the centre of the room was missing. It was taken out months ago for restoration purposes. I feel like that was the main focal point that made the church so impressive. Still, it is hard to grasp the reality of it all. Some people argue that there are closer to 70000 bodies found within that tiny church. 70000 people. It’s hard to fathom. Nonetheless, the trip was worth it. The Sedlec ossuary is up there on my list of bizarre attractions in the world, and we met some pretty great people along the way.