The charnel house is home to over 1000 skeletons, with skulls neatly stacked up on top of one another. The macabre practice may seem outrageous today but storing older skeletons in ossuaries like this was not uncommon in the past. There are many striking examples across Europe, such as the Sedlec Ossuary in the Czech Republic with its skeletal chandelier, the elaborate San Bernardino alle Ossa in Milan, and most famously the Paris catacombs which are the final resting place for more than six million people
IT’S TOUGH OUT THERE FOR the average to small-sized ossuary in the Czech Republic. There are the feelings of neglect and rejection when tourists won’t give you the time of day. And of course the crisis of comparing your bone collection to the massive Sedlec Ossuary, that houses 40,000 human remains. But there is an advantage to being the black sheep of the Czech ossuaries. Křtiny Ossuary has character.
The little town of Křtiny has only 800 inhabitants and it’s a bit off the beaten path from tourist-heavy Prague. But the Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary and its basement ossuary make a trip worthwhile. The ossuary holds the remains of 1,000 people and is most notable for its mysterious painted skulls. Similar to the skulls at the Hallstatt Charnel House, the skulls were decorated with a black-dyed laurel wreath.
Although not every skull was decorated as such, there are no other ossuaries in the Czech Republic with designed skulls and the practice was centered much further West in Europe. Some experts suggest that the practice made its way to Křtiny with a wealthy family wanting to carry on the Austrian tradition. Whatever the reason, the 12 painted skulls have fascinated visitors and made a name for the small Moravian ossuary.