Czech Republic’s Sedlec Ossuary, aka ‘Church of Bones,’ to ban selfies
The Sedlec Ossuary chapel in the Czech Republic town of Kutná Hora has become the latest attraction to clamp down on photography.
The chapel, located beneath the Church of All Saints about 45 miles outside of Prague, is known as the “Church of Bones” due to its unusual decor.
The bones from the nearly 60,000 skeletons discovered on the site have been used to create decorative elements, most famously a large chandelier.
The underground chapel’s nontraditional interior design has brought tourists from around the world to this otherwise sleepy town in the Czech countryside, but the visitor influx has become a double-edged sword in the age of Instagram.
Radka Krejčí, director of the Sedlec parish, told reporters in a Czech Republic media briefing that photography will be severely restricted in the Sedlec Ossuary as of 2020.
“We believe that our visitors will respect this decision and at the same time understand the reasons that led us to this step,” she said.
According to Krejčí, half a million people passed through the Ossuary in 2017, a number that is expected to keep rising.
This isn’t an outright photography ban. Instead, visitors who wish to take snapshots will need to get permission from the parish three days ahead of time.
A major issue for the ossuary — which is currently undergoing renovations that will help manage the flow of visitors to the site — is the epidemic of inappropriate selfies.
Despite signs in many languages asking guests to be polite and remember that the skeletons are still dead bodies, many tourists have removed bones from the walls, attempted to touch or kiss skeletons, put hats or sunglasses on skulls for photo purposes or committed other disrespectful acts.
In addition, preservation is crucial, since Kutná Hora’s historic town center is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The nearby Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary and Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, both managed by the Sedlec parish and part of the UNESCO designation, will also be subject to the new photography guidelines.
It’s as yet unclear what the new restrictions will entail beyond the three-day rule.
Some popular sites around the world, like Mexico City’s Casa Azul, the home of artist Frida Kahlo, charge an additional fee for visitors who want to take pictures.
Others only ban selfie sticks or limit photography to certain less-busy times.