Visitors behaving inappropriately have forced Czech Republic's famous Sedlec Ossuary or ''Bone Church' to clamp down on photography from next year.

A photo of the bone church known as Sedlec Ossuary or Kostnice Ossuary in Kutna Hora, Czech Republic
Sedlec Ossuary will enforce stricter rules around photography from next year ©Brendan van Son via Getty

Sedlec Ossuary, located in the medieval city of Kutná Hora, is enforcing stricter photography rules from next year, according to Czech news agency CTK. Parish director, Radka Krejčí, told CTK that tourists have been behaving inappropriately in the quest for the perfect selfie such as kissing skeletons, placing sunglasses and hats on skulls and removing bones from the walls. Not the type of behaviour you'd expect in a sacred site that contains the remains of an estimated 40,000 dead bodies.

"We believe that our visitors will respect this decision and at the same time understand the reasons that led us to this step," Krejčí told CTK. Under the new rules, visitors will have to request permission to take photos from the parish at least three days ahead of their visit. According to Krejčí, half a million people passed through the Ossuary in 2017, so the new rules will also help those in charge of the UNESCO Heritage Site to better manage the flow of visitors.

Kostnice Church in Kutna Hora with Ossuary interior decoration from human bones and skulls
The skull chandelier ©rustamank via Getty

The gothic chapel's popularity is largely due to the fact that the bones of the people buried here have been arranged in a creepily artistic style. Garlands of skulls and femurs adorn the ceiling, a giant coat of arms - made of tibias and fibias - is strung up on a wall, while a chandelier, constructed from every bone in the human skeleton, dangles in the middle of the crypt. Until 1870, these bones were simply stacked in rows, much like the arrangement in the Paris Catacombs, but then a local woodcarver, Frantisek Rint, was given the task of revamping the ossuary. 

Despite Rint's rather creative presentation, each collection of skulls is accompanied by religious displays (made out of bones, of course), to remind visitors that the chapel is still a place of reverence.

Explore related stories

Features - 750-Lithuania-Anita-Isalska


Seven startling sights of Eastern Europe

Jul 30, 2012 • 5 min read