It’s hard to believe this trip of a lifetime is about to end. It seems like only yesterday we were moving into our dorms in Olomouc and just getting to know the people in our group. Three months really do fly by when you’re living the life most people only dream about. For our final week together, our group of 24 students and 4 professors ventured off to explore Bohemia, the eastern region of the Czech Republic.
Our first stop was in a tiny Czech town called Litomysl. While it had similar attributes of a traditional Czech town, such as the town center with a column and a church, Litomysl had a small-town charm that made it unique. Our hostel was located next to the castle in what used to be an old brewery. After we left our luggage at the hostel, our professors led us on a short walk to the town center. This town center was unique because it was a long street rather than a large square like most Czech towns. While it seems like a great place to find a lot of food options, we mostly only found shops and a small supermarket. For lunch, we really had to search around the outside of the town center to find a good restaurant.
After lunch, we reunited with the whole group to tour the church and the castle. The church was unique in that it had many restorations due to the constant fires that occurred throughout the years. We walked to the very top of the church tower to get a great view of the town. The castle was similar to other Czech castles in that it was adorned with Bohemian crystal chandeliers and extravagant furniture. For the afternoon, a group of us sat in the grass in a park, relaxed, and had an interesting conversation about Shia Labouf. The best part of the day, however, was when we sat on the edge of a wall with an amazing view of the sunset behind the Litomysl rooftops. My group is full of jokesters who make me laugh so hard, my stomach hurts. If I would have laughed any harder, I may have fallen off the ledge! Don’t worry mom and dad, I didn’t fall 😉.
While there was not much more to do in such a small town, I was sad our time in Litomysl came to an end the next morning when we all hopped on the bus for the next town. That feeling quickly faded when I realized the next towns would have a unique charm all their own! Before arriving in the next town of Kutna Hora, our bus made a few stops so we could see some important historical landmarks. Not knowing what the first stop would be, I was excited to see beautifully mowed green space and a creek through the window of the bus. However, when I learned where we were, I was overcome with grief. We had arrived at the site where the small town of Lazaky used to be. During WWII, Lazaky was completely obliterated along with its inhabitants by the Nazis for the rebellious assassination of Officer Heidrich. Many of the assassination conspirators took refuge in Lazaky to hide from the Nazis. Some of them even committed suicide in an effort to protect the small town. But to no avail, the Nazis believed the whole town should suffer. In remembrance, memorials were placed in the area, along with a single cross on the top of the hill. After taking a silent walk to the top of the hill, our group returned to the bus to continue our journey.
Our next stop was at a church outside of Kutna Hora. This wasn’t just any old church. Inside, we were surprised to find millions of HUMAN bones adorning the walls and ceiling of the chapel. In the center, there was a large chandelier made of human bones, all strategically placed to form the structure. A neat pile of bones sat in the four corners of the chapel. Because death was such a daily occurrence in the old times, especially with outbreak of the Plague, bones had to be dug up from the ground to make room in the cemetery. One of the architects for the church believed it was best to use the bones to decorate the church. The purpose of this was to provide a place for people to morn the dead and also be reminded of their own mortality. While it was definitely creepy and disgusting, I enjoyed looking at each bone and trying to name it, based on what I learned in my anatomy courses. Evidently, I have some reviewing to do!