The Bone Church (a.k.a Sedlec Ossuary), Kutna Hora At Captivating Prague In Czech Republic 捷克布拉格古美浪漫之旅 (小镇库特拉霍拉闻名全球的人骨教堂)
Back in October, while flipping through a brochure for places outside Prague, I came upon a listing for the UNESCO Heritage Site, Kutna Hora. Kutna Hora is a one hour drive from Prague. Reading on further i came to this: “You also will visit one of the most interesting burial grounds in the world - the Sedlec Ossuary.” Officially called the Sedlec Ossuary, it is often just referred to as “the bone church” and contains over 40,000 bones arranged to decorate this Roman Catholic church. It doesn’t seem quite right does it? A place of worship and religion, packed full with remains of the deceased. It seems slightly ironic in fact. The “Bone Church” or “Church of Bones” is remarkable and incredibly strange, all at the same time. In this small chapel there are no colourful ceiling frescos, wooden pews, or stained glass windows. The interior of the chapel is artistically decorated with human bones over 40,000 of them.
What can be a more sobering reminder of the fragility of human life and its impermanence than an ossuary? A church made up of human bones? I was just on the outskirts of that beautiful, mournful, Czech capital Prague and have goose bumps on my arms as I contemplate life and its meaning. The Ossuary (Kostnice in Czech) is located about an hour outside of Prague in a traditional, dated and somewhat eerie feeing town named Kutna Hora. Surrounded by miles of picturesque rural Czech countryside, the town is small and secluded. Kutna Hora, an ancient mining town in this part of eastern Europe, has its share of castles and chapels.
捷克 - 优美, 苍老, 深邃, 宁静, 魔幻, 这个中欧小国有着太多的惊喜. 这当中每一个都是你前往捷克的理由, 然而捷克的魅力又绝不仅限于此, 只有你真正踏上这片土地, 才能感受它的神奇. 向来喜好寻幽探奇的我等, 岂可轻易错过.
捷克布拉格旁的小镇库特拉霍拉 Kutna Hora, 因为人骨教堂而世界闻名. 像它的名字一样, 这座教堂曾为中世纪流行一时的黑死病人的埋骨之地, 后来这些遗骨被用来装饰教堂, 据说一共用去4万多具遗骨. 教堂装饰充满了冰冷的华丽感. Kutna Hora 在很久之前甚至是捷克很重要的城市, 原因是这里附近的山丘曾经发现了银矿, 使得国王时期的钱币铸造厂都在这里, 后来坐吃山空, 但银矿渐渐挖掘殆尽之后, 加上邻近的布拉格慢慢兴起, 这个城市的美丽就逐渐为人所遗忘. 不过, 这个城市仍成为现在捷克旅遊的热门景点, 原因是在 Kutna Hora 的市郊区有一座人骨教堂. 前几年水患的时候似乎曾传出坏消息, 加上人骨教堂里头的人骨装饰部分有崩坏的现象, 而且似乎无法修复, 因此到底还能撑多久也都还是未知数.
大概 14 世纪时, 因为 black death 死了很多人, 连墓地都已经尸满为患, 所以有人建议把这些尸骨挖出来, 用来装饰教堂, 一来可以节约墓地, 而来也是死者的荣耀用自己的骨头来祭奠上帝的圣殿. 在欧洲有很多这样的 bone church, Kutna Hora 的这座是最老的也是最美的. 人骨教堂建外观看起来很普通. 围墙外面是一棵老树, 要有遇上小雨的天气, 有神秘幽暗的味道. 进入围墙后才发现, 教堂周围全是墓碑, 像是一块墓地.
It really is the kostnice, as it is called in Czech, the small Roman Catholic chapel located beneath the Cemetery Church of All Saints in Sedlec, a suburb of the town, that is the main draw here.
这座教堂很小, 不想我想像中的气势宏伟, 但是迈进教堂的门, 就开始觉得凉嗖嗖的, 一般的教堂一进去就是就是中堂, 而这个教堂的中堂是在地下的, 楼梯上面悬着骷髅头, 两侧是人骨组成的花瓶装饰. 骷髅头, 到处都是骷髅头, 惨白惨白的, 两个眼洞空空的. 走下楼梯主厅正中间吊着一座令人惊叹的人骨吊灯, 这个人骨吊灯使用人体上所有的骨头做成的, 骷髅头叼着打成十字的腿骨, 一排接一排, 一座接一座, 从定悬到地. 主厅四周的四个小 chapel 里陈列着白骨垒成金字塔, 惨白得让人脊背发凉. 其中一个 chapel 的门廊上悬着用人骨组成的大提琴状的图案. 其工艺实在令人惊叹.
前后总共采用了四万人的骸骨进行室内装饰其实想想也有点心寒, 要知道四万人很可能是当时整个城镇的七, 八成人口.
The church is relatively small in size and is filled with the remains of hundreds, if not thousands of human bodies. In each corner of the church there is a pile of skulls, more skulls than most people will ever see outside of a horror movie. The only time I had ever seen skulls like this was in the stupas in Cambodia.
据史料记载, 在中世纪布拉格地区曾经发生过一次惨绝人寰的瘟疫, 在这场瘟疫中有五万人失去了性命. 几百年以后在一位牧师的倡议下修建了这座人骨教堂以纪念人类历史上的这一惨剧, 人们从万人坑里挖掘出数万具尸骨并精心安置在这座人骨教堂之中. 再后来, 这座举世闻名的人骨教堂就成为了布拉格颇具人气的旅游景点, 每天来自世界各地的游客都是络绎不绝.
As well as a chandelier, there are strings of skulls and bones hanging from the ceiling, a skull candelabra, a display case showing skulls with wounds inflicted by various medieval weapons, chalices that stand in alcoves.
The most striking piece in the church is a huge chandelier made entirely from bones. At least one of every type of human bone was used to create its haunting design.
The church is extensively decorated with bones, it’s as if it’s almost a morbid Christmas grotto, with chains of bones drooped across the walls like tinsel.
流行文化里, 骷髅和死亡总和阴森恐怖联系起来, 四万副骨骸, 听起来应该是可怕至极. 然而走进人骨教堂, 却只感受到宁静平和的气氛, 它展示了生命终结的另一种可能: 作为一种艺术, 去装饰信仰的屋子. 人生百年, 身后无分贵贱, 为同一种追求服务, 大抵亦是信徒的一种幸福.
This church demonstrates a different time, a different era and a very different way of life. It demonstrates death, but also faith and belief.
My biggest question though was 'why would somebody build such a place?’
Well, myth has it that one of the monks of the church went crazy and began to build things out of the many bones surrounding the church. When the time came to remove some of the graves that had been there for many, many years, the monk entrusted a group of partially blind monks to retrieve the bones and strategically place them around the church. Years later, a woodcarver then completed the job by creating the decorations and sculptures.
目前教堂里看到的人骨为 1870 年由教堂拥有者 Schwarzenberg 家族聘请捷克, 雕刻家 Frantisek Rint, 将骨头彻底消毒漂白, 重新排列镶嵌的设计作品.
The aim of the bone church is to create a reminder of the impermanence of human life and inescapable death. As eerily unusual as it seems, it is a fantastic work of art and i certainly have never seen another building like it. Definitely worth a visit at some point for any keen traveller! The entire thing transformed the interior of the chapel into something very macabre and at the same time very intriguing. Whether you enjoy these sorts of sites or not, the Sedlec Ossuary possesses a uniqueness that is unmatched elsewhere in the world. It’s a great site to add to any touring list.
Strings of bones, like one would make with popcorn for the Christmas tree, hung from the ceiling in all directions and in all four corners of the room stood huge piles of human skulls that were about nine feet tall and ten feet wide and not hallow.
The ralliers filled the church and started walking around quietly at first. Eventually, people just get used to being around strange things regardless of what they be. A room full of bones becomes simply the room you happen to be standing in at that moment and ralliers gathered in small groups to talk about their routes, or tell stories about what had happened to far to them on the trip. At one point I watched a young woman not associated with the rally put her finger into an eye socket while her friend took her picture. Later, one of the ralliers said it was hard for him to imagine they were ever real people, which explained why he could take pictures of himself smiling in front of a pile of skulls. Humans are a strange animal.
教堂里的四周有四座堆成金字塔的人骨, 堆砌得很完美. 因为害怕游客触碰导致倒塌, 都用铁网围起来了. 左边人骨塔外的铁网上有一个人骨做的国徽, 是艺术家为买下这片土地的国王所做. 教堂里还有些展柜, 放着被挑出来的头骨, 可以清晰地看到头骨绽裂开的模样. 从这些头骨的伤痕, 可以想象到15世纪的那场战争是多么残酷.
站在大灯下往上一看, 乖乖的不得了, 屋顶竟也有一串串的头骨装饰, 一个个的脸骨都是往下, 看遍了两个世纪来的遊客, 也看遍了世间的变化无常. 如果灵魂真的存在, 不知他们有没有曾经看到过自己的后人？
人骨教堂比想象中小得多, 不过当你看到万具人骨堆积如山总是会被震撼到的. 看着一个个的头盖骨, 似同非同, 突然觉得人生一世也不过如此, 最后都会化为乌有或者变成两个大洞的脑壳, 辨不出谁是谁, 不知生时故事.
After the Plague and Hussite Wars, thousands of people were buried here, leading to the cemetery being enlarged. Around 1400, a Gothic church was built in the middle of the cemetery. The lower chapel was to be used as an ossuary for the mass graves unearthed during construction and those that were demolished to make room for new burials.
The fascinating arrangement of human bones has made Sedlec Ossuary one of the most visited tourist attractions in the Czech Republic. Each year over 200,000 visitors come to see this exceptional chapel.
Where else in the world, after all, can you visit a church not just containing the bones of more than 40,000 once-living people but also artefacts and decorations made out of these? Call it macabre or what you will, the chapel exerts a strange pull on us on the afternoon i visited it, standing in its small cavernous enclosure, one level beneath the ground, gaping at the overwhelming chandelier, chalices, wall decor and even a coat of arms, all fashioned out of human bones. Life, afterlife, everything becomes beautiful.
But if the ossuary is the most stunning part of our travel to this ancient land, it certainly is not an isolated example of the nerve-wracking Gothica that you can still encounter in the Czech Republic, so many centuries later. Instead, the very air of the country is sombre with remains of the past.
捷克之行让我印象最深的既不是查理士大桥, 而是布拉格附近的人骨教堂, 是很罕见的阿拉伯风格教堂, 可唯独只有这个人骨教堂最让我印象深刻. 或许很多人会害怕, 当时我在里面参观最久, 我完全以工艺和艺术角度来欣赏, 用了解历史的心态来观察, 其实根本不用怕, 这些都是我们身体的一部份, 只需平常看待就好. 人骨教堂设计用意正是提醒参观者: 生命是无常的, 死亡随时在我们的面前.
Captivating Prague In Czech Republic 捷克布拉格古美浪漫之旅 - To be continued…..
A freelance Singapore-based travel photographer / photojournalist. I seek the extraordinary, but finds beauty in the everyday. Life is interesting, capture it.
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