Sunday, September 28, 2008

What huge pile of human skeletons are you talking about?

ORIGINAL POST: 18 May 2008

Oh... THAT huge pile of human skeletons!

Yes, my friends. I'm taking you from the beauty of Northern Italy that is found in Venice... the freakishly bizarre Church of the Dead.

Come one! Come all!

Welcome to Prague.
...but more precisely, Kutna Hora.

A sleepy town lying 45min due east of Prague, Kutna Hora is home to its (in)famous Ossuary where, back in the Middle Ages the plague struck this region. Since the grounds of the church here were blessed by soil brought back from the Holy Land, thousands and thousands of people sought to be buried here upon their demise.

To make a long story short, the place isn't that big! The cemetery became overcrowded. Extremely overcrowded. So overcrowded, in fact, that the monks who inhabited the monastery here began to exhume human remains and piling them up inside and out of the church.

It wasn't long before a monk had a fit of creativity...

...wouldn't we all?

He started small and simple...

...and then created his masterpiece...

...a massive chandelier array containing every single one of the 206 bones from the human skeleton at least once... and many many times over.

Sadly, the genius monk died before he could complete his masterpiece.

It wasn't long before someone picked up the pieces and completed the rather odd decorations.

And I can honestly say it was one of the more fascinating things I saw during my travels thus far.

Many put the count at 40,000 complete human skeletons represented here.

Somehow, I wouldn't doubt it...

...but the Ossuary is not very big so you have to just imagine how odd it is to stand in the midst of 40,000 skeletons. These are the grounds as they are now.


So, it had taken a staggering 13hours of an overnight train through Austria to arrive in the Czech Republic. Some would be bored to tears... I call that "catch up on sleep."

We had gone from the blah overcast-ness of Northern Italy to the wonderful blue skies of Eastern Europe.

Prague was also full of educational moments. While I was enjoying myself outside town in the Bone Church, my companions visited the Torture Museum.

Why? I don't know.

But then we reunited for another unique experience: dinner.

We had always heard that the Czech Republic was just crazy cheap; nevertheles we did not realize how crazy cheap it was. After a mighty fine meal of duck, dumplings, drink, and including an appetizer, my bill came out to 362 Czech korunas.

How much is that?

About 13Euro...

Yep. For real.

Then we took a walk.

Prague - at night and during the day - is a beautiful and unique experience. (I'm not sure I like that perspective weirdness on that photo, but anyways...)

During my earlier train trip from Kutna Hora, my Blackberry educated me concerning the huge number of movies filmed here in Prague. Not only from movies that claim to be Prague - such as the movie xXx in which Vin Diesel goes toe to toe with anarchists who plan to launch chemical weapons - but even movies that are SUPPOSED to be other European locations.

One example is the beginning scenes of The Bourne Identity. The locations where he busts up the embassy in "Zürich" is ACTUALLY... you guessed it: Prague. They say that Zürich wasn't "consistently European enough".

Also, movies like the first Mission Impossible:

The ramp on the left where Tom Cruise and the girl are pretending to make-out as the man who stole the N.O.C. list escapes from the embassy. Then runs down the sidewalk (toward the right) to the gate there where he is stabbed. Then the other girl runs up and is stabbed through the gate, too.

Falling together yet?

Then, Jim Phelps "gets shot" and falls off the bridge (approximately where I'm standing) and later climbs up the embankment right there. Immediately, Tom Cruise's character runs up the stairs...

...then the car explodes.



Pretty cool, right?

After watching the movie again, its pretty freaky to put it all together. But, then again, it doesn't really look THAT much like it... stuff has changed since then.

So, Prague was mighty cool. Movies, dead people, torture museums, and 'Good King Winceslas' seen everywhere.

Oh, and really big pretty churches dominating the night skyline.

I probably need to go back to Prague.

I think I'll return there with some more companions... my stay there was far too brief.

Maybe I'll get another US$18 huge meal...

Hmm... what's next?

~Noah D.

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