Czech Republic's famous Kutná Hora "bone church" to ban photography as of 2020

In an effort to restore respect and dignity to the chapel and those whose remains adorn it, the parish has issued a photography ban

Katrina Modrá

Written by Katrina Modrá Published on 14.10.2019 11:20 (updated on 14.10.2019) Reading time: 2 minutes

The Bone Church (Kostnice), a chapel in Kutná Hora, a Central Bohemian town just 80 kilometers outside of Prague, is among the most visited attractions in the Czech Republic not to mention a popular place to snap a selfie with a skeleton.

From the first of the year, however, a blanket photography ban will take aim at tourists who come to do just that. The Sedlec parish has announced that the decision stems from the need to preserve the dignity of the estimated 60,000 people whose skeletal remains adorn the chapel.

The nearby Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary and St. John the Baptist are also included in the photography ban.

Up to half a million tourists a year pass through the Sedlec Ossuary, a chapel located beneath the Cemetery Church of All Saints, formerly a part of the Sedlec Abbey. Many of these visitors, church officials say, disrespect the historical and religious significance of the landmark by taking selfies or manipulating bones to create social-media-worthy photos.

In the future, it will be possible to take pictures only with permission, which will need to be requested at least three days in advance, or, in the case of media, at least three weeks before shooting or filming.

The chapel dates to the 14th century; in 1870, woodcarver František Rint was commissioned by the Schwarzenberg family to decoratively arrange the bone heaps. His work includes a chandelier of bones said to contain at least one of every bone in the human body that hangs in the center of the nave.

Radka Krejčí, director of the parish organizational unit told the Czech media, “We believe that our visitors will respect this decision and at the same time understand the reasons that led us to this step.”

The ossuary is currently undergoing major renovations while remaining open to the public. In an earlier effort to alleviate the effects of overtourism, the parish moved ticket sales to both Sedlec monuments to a newly built info center. A security guard was also hired for the purpose of supervising tourist behavior in the chapel as well as the cemetery.

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