© Eva Kořínková

Moravia and Silesia

Where Did the Painted Skulls in Křtiny Come from?

Where Did the Painted Skulls in Křtiny Come from?

The scenic town of Křtiny, sitting between the hills of the Moravian Karst, is quite legitimately called the jewel of Moravia. The legend says that Cyril and Methodius baptised the first Christians here. At least that is how the old name of the area is explained – Vallis baptismi, i.e. the Valley of Baptism. In the 13th century, local farmers allegedly saw the Virgin Mary, which made Křtiny a popular destination for pilgrims. And that is why the abbot of Premonstratensians decided to build a new church here at the beginning of the 18th century.

When selecting an architect, the Premonstratensians were extremely lucky and Jan Santini Aichel left no doubt that he was one of the greatest geniuses of his time. The master of hidden messages covered the monumental Baroque temple with so many symbolic references that today’s historians have their heads spinning, and even the best of them are not able to reliably decipher their meaning. However, the greatest mystery of the Křtiny church was not discovered until a century later.

Křtiny, hidden on the top edge of the Josefovské údolí (Joseph’s Valley) Karst about 15 km northeast from Brno, is a beautiful tourist and pilgrimage place, and also an ideal initial point for discovering the Moravian Karst.

Křtiny, hidden on the top edge of the Josefovské údolí (Joseph’s Valley) Karst about 15 km northeast from Brno, is a beautiful tourist and pilgrimage place, and also an ideal initial point for discovering the Moravian Karst.

The unusually rich history of the town is complemented with the ancient Virgin Mary pilgrimage. The miraculous Gothic statue of the Virgin Mary of Křtiny has attracted crowds to Křtiny since the Middle Ages, and the increasing interest of pilgrims forced the Premonstratensians to completely reconstruct their area according to the design of the most prominent Czech Baroque architect, Jan Santini Aichel. However, the monumental temple was never completed due to a lack of funds. Although, it is still a magnificent work of art.

The unusually rich history of the town is complemented with the ancient Virgin Mary pilgrimage. The miraculous Gothic statue of the Virgin Mary of Křtiny has attracted crowds to Křtiny since the Middle Ages, and the increasing interest of pilgrims forced the Premonstratensians to completely reconstruct their area according to the design of the most prominent Czech Baroque architect, Jan Santini Aichel. However, the monumental temple was never completed due to a lack of funds. Although, it is still a magnificent work of art.

When in 1991 archaeologists performed a survey of the ossuary under the church, they found a walled-in tomb. None of the men removing the residual waste had any idea about what a sensation their finding would be. Together with the remains of hundreds of people, they also found twelve strange skulls. They had laurel wreaths drawn in coal around their heads and a large T on their foreheads. And a mystery was born. None of the Czech experts have seen anything like that – and there is still no reliable explanation for this strange decoration.

When in 1991 archaeologists performed a survey of the ossuary under the church, they found a walled-in tomb. None of the men removing the residual waste had any idea about what a sensation their finding would be. Together with the remains of hundreds of people, they also found twelve strange skulls. They had laurel wreaths drawn in coal around their heads and a large T on their foreheads. And a mystery was born. None of the Czech experts have seen anything like that – and there is still no reliable explanation for this strange decoration.

The underground of the church was discovered at the beginning of the 1990s, and a large ossuary was made accessible to the public. In addition to the remains of hundreds of medieval citizens of Křtiny, the ossuary also contains several skulls decorated with mysterious ornaments, the meaning of which remains unknown.

The underground of the church was discovered at the beginning of the 1990s, and a large ossuary was made accessible to the public. In addition to the remains of hundreds of medieval citizens of Křtiny, the ossuary also contains several skulls decorated with mysterious ornaments, the meaning of which remains unknown.

Two other churches had to give way to Santini’s construction and people wondered if there was anything else left after the churches, other than several paintings. Several boreholes were made, the last of which in 1991 was successful. The underground crypt was hiding the remains of almost a thousand people that were placed here after the cemetery, surrounding one of the original churches, was abolished.

Two other churches had to give way to Santini’s construction and people wondered if there was anything else left after the churches, other than several paintings. Several boreholes were made, the last of which in 1991 was successful. The underground crypt was hiding the remains of almost a thousand people that were placed here after the cemetery, surrounding one of the original churches, was abolished.

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