Bones

Our second and final field tour was Friday. We spent the day in Kutná Hora, a town that’s about an hour outside of Prague.

We started at the Bone Chapel, which was the part of the trip I was most excited for (especially since the tour of the silver mine had been cancelled so instead we were going to a deer game reserve). The Bone Chapel is an ossuary that contains the bones of 40,000 medieval plague victims. These bones are arranged into various shapes such as a chandelier, a coat-of-arms, and cups. They are also piled into geometric piles in each corner of the chapel.

It was an amazing place, I was stunned by the creative, yet respectful use of the bones to form so many different things. It was also an erie place that reminded me of how you can be reduced to being anonymous so easily when you die. There was so little information about these bones and who they belonged to.

Afterwards, we visited two churches. First, the simple Sedlec Cathedral which is the oldest Cistercian cathedral in Bohemia. It has gone to ruin several times but now is restored and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The second church, St. Barbara’s Cathedral is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

St. Barbara’s Cathedral is a gothic building and it was much more showy than the Sedlec Cathedral.

I had previously thought flying buttresses to be ugly, but St. Barbara’s Cathedral may have changed my mind.

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Next, we got lunch as a treat from Jan, the program director. We all got to choose from two soups and then a list of about six entrees.

My soup was a bit intimidating at first because it came with a quail egg: a giant, soft boiled quail egg right in the middle of my soup. Luckily I was convinced to eat it and it was a highlight dish from my time here so far! I also ate fried cauliflower and mashed potatoes which were also good!

Finally, we stopped at the game reserve. I’m going to be honest, I was not excited for this. I was under the impression that we’d just be looking at a field of white-tailed deer, which I could do at home.

Instead, it was more comparable to a small zoo made of a bunch of game animals. The coolest part were the birds, who were simply tied by their leg to a stand and set out really close to visitors, without cages. That’s something you’d never see in America. The other highlight were the goats which would walk right up to the fence to get fed and a pair of geese that followed you around the fence and tried to intimidate you into feeding them with their small, sharp looking teeth.

The white deer were also pretty cool, I guess.

See the pictures from today here.

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