Sometimes you need to just go and find where the train can take you. In both Italy and the Republic of Czech I found the time to take a train ride to a neighboring town. In Italy I managed to slip away one evening to Pisa and see the leaning tower. In the Republic of Czech I succeeded in taking a trip to Kunta Hora to see the “Church of Bones”.
It is amazing the feeling of freedom you receive when venturing out in a foreign country by yourself. Before I left I was given a few words of guidance. Try and learn at least a few words or phrases in the native language, excuse me, thank you, good morning, and good bye. Smile and be friendly. Always buy a return ticket before you leave so you don’t have to worry about it later. Have a backup plan in case you miss the train back but most important never panic and enjoy the ride.
The Leaning Tower of Pisa is actually the bell tower of the Cathedral of Pisa. The tower sits next to the Cathedral and is tilted around 4 degrees. Construction began on the tower in 1173 and was completed 200 years later in 1372. The tower stands 183 feet high with eight stories. Visitors that climb to the top of the tower can get a close up view of the seven bells that are there. They also are rewarded with a marvelous view of the city. Well worth the 300 step climb to get there.
The Kunta Hora Ossuary (Bone Church) became well known when in the 13th century the abbot of Sedlec monastery returned from a visit to Israel (then Palestine) with soil that he sprinkled on the cemetery surrounding the Chapel of All Saints. In turn the graveyard, with its new connection to the holy lands, became a sought after burial site among Central Europe. The number of burials out grew the space in the graveyard so the older bodies were exhumed and stored in the chapel. It is estimated that the remains of 40,000 people are in the chapel. The story is told that a blind monk started piling the bones in pyramids and other shapes and recovered his sight. In 1870 a woodcarver was commissioned to build the structures. When entering the church tickets and souvenirs can be purchased from a cashier working there. At one point a cashier was asked if she was ever scared by the bones, she replied “Pfft! They’re only bones, they won’t hurt you; it’s the living who scare me”.
I climbed up to the bells just in time to watch the sun go down.
One of the seven bells in the tower
A ticket to climb the tower also gives you access to the cemetery
The tower lit up at night
This is one church you don’t want to fall asleep in during service. They might make you part of the decorations.
The family that owned the church had their coat of arms placed on the wall.