Destinations

Czech Republic’s ‘Church of Bones’ to ban selfies in bid to preserve dignity

The Sedlec Ossuary, also known as the “Church of Bones”, is set to clamp down on photography in an effort to restore respect to the site.

Sedlec Ossuary is a chapel in Kutná Hora, around 80 kilometres outside of Prague, and is reportedly among the most visited attractions in the Czech Republic.

The chapel is ‘decorated’ with the skeletons of around 40,000 people, made into macabre fixtures; these include a chandelier of bones (that reportedly features one of every human bone) and a coat of arms, among others.

The destination is a hit on social media, with thousands of geotags at the Sedlec Ossuary, and shots using #churchofbones, on Instagram.

But from the start of 2020, a photography ban will be put in place in a bid to preserve the dignity of the people whose remains adorn the chapel.

According to local news outlets, the nearby Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary and St John the Baptist are also included in the photography ban.

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

According to Krejčí, around half a million people passed through the Ossuary in 2017, with the number expected to continue rising.

Image: Tourists visit Sedlec Ossuary, the ‘Church of Bones’/iStock

Photographers will still be able to photograph the chapel upon request. Visitors to the destination will need to seek permission from the parish three days ahead of time, according to local media reports.

The ossuary is reportedly battling a tide of inappropriate selfies, with some photographers shamelessly manipulating bones for interesting photos, as well as kissing and touching skeletons, and putting hats or sunglasses on skulls for photo purposes, among other disrespectful acts.

The response on social media to the ban has been mixed, with one Facebook user seemingly perplexed about the decision being based on preserving ‘dignity’.

“If they’re talking about dignity then what about the gift shops selling plastic skull keyrings, life-size skull models and ‘Welcome to hell’ signs, one right at the ossuary entrance,” Emmi Riikka writes.

According to its website, the Sedlec Ossuary sells souvenirs, including skull models made of plaster, postcards and keyrings.

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