Well I lied about the Icees. after a year I haven’t found one in the Czech Republic yet. But speaking of swords and fire and dragons you may think I’ve had a flash back to the late ’60’s again or that I’m going through withdrawals after the season finale of Game of Thrones, but nay nay, I just got back from the medieval festival in Kutná Hora located in the Central Bohemian Region of, well, Bohemia of course. All toll, I can’t think of a better way for me to exit this country than to have experienced this extravaganza and hold the memories as I fly out on Wednesday. I’ve been to the Renaissance Fair in California and while that was mildly enjoyable, this was spectacular. It began with a parade of king and queen and knights and village people from the doors of St. Barbara’s Church down the winding narrow streets to a field below and a stage already set up. The king held court and while a few thousand people watched the dancers do their thing.
The afternoon brought sword fights on horses, sword fights on the stage, sword fights between 1 and 4 people and sword fights between 1 and 3 people. There were dual matches as well. During the jousting contests I didn’t see anyone get hurt but they must have felt something falling off the horses in their armor and stuff. I know it was all staged and choreographed but it was exciting and it was hard to imagine that it was really 2014 and not the 1300’s. Everyone was in character even during the breaks. One young woman was dressed as a beggar and went through the crowds in character asking for money or a well paying job (my Czech is not very good, so I’m not sure what she was asking). The stalls to buy handmade stuff were half in the field and half in a forest. They sold a variety of trinkets and wonderful food and just the smells were intoxicating. I had heard about this festival for months and months and even though I am pressed for time to pack and clean, I was glad I signed on to see it.
The day before (Friday) I went to see the Sedlec Ossuary located beneath the Cemetery Church of All Saints. It
is guestimated to hold the bones of between 40,000 and 70,000 people. Most of these bones belonged to people who had died during the Black Plague or the Hussite Wars. Seems a dude who was part of the Cistercian Monastery came back from the Holy Land with some earth he had taken from Golgotha and sprinkled it in the cemetery. Word got out that this place was the place to go to get buried, presumably after you died. So the cemetery grew, and as stories like this happen, someone wanted to build a church on the spot where so many people were buried. Sooooo a half blind monk gathered up the disinterred bones and piled them in the basement of the new church. He piled them in 4 enormous mounds. As the legend goes, once he had done this, his sight was restored. The left over bones were later made into a huge chandelier and various arty things. Of course, like I did at the Brno ossuary, I wondered who all these people were. Did they have families? Were they rich or poor? Did they have a sense of humor? What was their life like? You know, stuff like that. To tell you the truth, I have never seen anything quite like this ossuary. If you are in Prague, make sure to add Kutná Hora to your itinerary.
So this past weekend was a medieval weekend from sword fights to rooms full of bones. In all, though, it was a lively weekend and one that is embedded in that part of my brain that hasn’t quite turned to jello yet. Packing was difficult this morning as I remembered these past months, but it’s time.
and so it goes…