Millions of people visit the Czech Republic annually, but Prague is all that most of them see. There is much more to Czechia than this city: with smaller cities and towns scattered throughout the countryside, there are numerous gems just waiting to be uncovered.
In this article, we’ll reveal three of them for you.
(1) Sedlec Ossuary
If you only have time for one day trip during your visit to Prague, make sure you head out to the Sedlec Ossuary. Located one hour by train from Prague city centre, this small Roman Catholic chapel, situated underneath the Cemetery Church of All Saints, is decorated with the bones of at least 40,000 people.
How did this macabre place of worship come to be? During the Black Death, the cemetery had to be expanded in a hurry. This meant that land intended for a church was overtaken by graves. Centuries later, church officials plowed forward with their plans. Rather than re-bury each of the skeletons they exhumed, a ossuary was planned for the basement of the church. Craftspeople reworked the bones into elements like chandeliers, giving birth to one of the darkest chapels ever built.
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(2) Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul
Looking to explore cities other than Prague while you are in Czechia? Stay in Brno for a couple nights. Located on the way to Budapest, this charming city lacks the crowds of Prague, but is home to many of the same streetscapes.
Like its big brother, it also has churches of consequence. The Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul is the most notable one, as it dominates the skyline of Brno with its tall, sharp spires. Boasting a Gothic Revival exterior and a Baroque interior, it is known for ringing its bells at 11 am, not at Noon like other churches.
This dates back to the Thirty Years War with Sweden – it was rumoured they would quit their siege of Brno if they hadn’t taken it by midday on the 15th of August. After receiving this information, the church friars rang the bells at 11 am, causing the attackers to quit just as the defenders were starting to weaken.
(3) Karlovy Vary
Need to unwind for a day or two on your tour of Central Europe? Take a side trip to the spa town of Karlovy Vary. Located in the hilly terrain of West Bohemia, it is blessed not only with stylish Czech architecture, but with numerous geothermal springs as well.
While most have been taken up by hotels and resorts, many offer access to the public for a fee. Spa Hotel Thermal has an outdoor pool with stunning views of downtown Karlovy Vary and the surrounding hills, so drop by their spring if you are short on time.