Believe it or not, there is a very popular tourist attraction in the Czech Republic, a church decorated with skulls and skeletons of an estimated 40,000 to 70,000 people! It seems that death and morbid stuff does sell to curious tourists, with as many as 200,000 flocking to a quiet town named Sedlec just to visit The Sedlec Ossuary set in the Cemetery Church of All Saints.

Photo credit: CANNUNDRUMS blog (http://cannundrum.blogspot.com/2012/06/church-of-all-saints-and-sedlec-ossuary.html)

Photo credit: CANNUNDRUMS blog (http://cannundrum.blogspot.com/2012/06/church-of-all-saints-and-sedlec-ossuary.html)

On the outside, the quaint chapel looks like any other church – normal, in fact. If there is any indication that it was creepy on the inside, it could possibly come from the cemetery crosses and headstones at the surrounding yard. Nevertheless, the outside façade and architecture of the church show no indication of what lies inside.

A ceiling of bones. Photo credit: http://www.ossuary.eu/index.php/cz/kostnice

A ceiling of bones.
Photo credit: http://www.ossuary.eu/index.php/cz/kostnice

According to a legendary account, the abbot of the Cistercian monastery in Sedlec named Henry was directed by King Otakar II of Bohemia to go to the Holy Land in 1278. Upon returning from his mission, the abbey sprinkled the abbey cemetery with a small amount of earth he got from Golgotha. The act soon became known across Central Europe, with the cemetery quickly becoming a popular burial ground.

Photo credit: CANNUNDRUMS blog (http://cannundrum.blogspot.com/2012/06/church-of-all-saints-and-sedlec-ossuary.html)

Photo credit: CANNUNDRUMS blog (http://cannundrum.blogspot.com/2012/06/church-of-all-saints-and-sedlec-ossuary.html)

The Black Death in the middle of the 14th century and the Hussite Wars in the early 15th century brought death to tens of thousands of people, with several thousand of these buried in the abbey cemetery.

Photo credit: Tom's Travels / YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=orrBOBbgnzs)

Photo credit: Tom’s Travels / YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=orrBOBbgnzs)

By 1400, a church was constructed in the middle of the cemetery. Beneath the grounds where the Gothic church was built, thousands of bones were unearthed. Perhaps, with respect to the dead, these bones were not crushed or thrown away but stored in the ossuary especially made beneath the main room of the church.

Photo credit: CANNUNDRUMS blog (http://cannundrum.blogspot.com/2012/06/church-of-all-saints-and-sedlec-ossuary.html)

Photo credit: CANNUNDRUMS blog (http://cannundrum.blogspot.com/2012/06/church-of-all-saints-and-sedlec-ossuary.html)

A half-blind monk was tasked to exhume and stack the bones underneath the chapel in 1511. The skillful monk took the task to heart, arranging the bones in creative albeit creepy heaps and decorations.

Photo credit: CANNUNDRUMS blog (http://cannundrum.blogspot.com/2012/06/church-of-all-saints-and-sedlec-ossuary.html)

Photo credit: CANNUNDRUMS blog (http://cannundrum.blogspot.com/2012/06/church-of-all-saints-and-sedlec-ossuary.html)

Also, woodcarver František Rint was tasked in 1870 to put the bones in order, creating creepy heaps in the ossuary.

Photo credit: Voice of America

Photo credit: Voice of America

Today, aside from being visited by tens of thousands of tourists every year, the creepy church also figures in several documentaries and feature films. As expected, it was also featured in one episode of Ripley’s Believe it or Not.

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