Out Of The Archives:
An Empty Gothic Chapel, A Set of Keys, and Silence

Turning the ancient skeleton key in the lock, I entered the chapel, and turned back to the door to lock it behind me. Alone. I was in this one room chapel alone with no chance of anyone walking in on me. I walked down the stairs and sat on the bottom step. In all my searches for Gothic architecture, this was the first time that I had a whole building all to myself. Even though it was a small building – but that observation was really unimportant. As I sat on the step, I rolled the skeleton key between my fingers. The young woman in the office said that this key was the original key, passed from hand to hand, keeper to keeper, for the last seven hundred years.

Bozi Telo (Chapel of the Body of the Lord) was originally designed as a two story structure but for unknown reasons, only the bottom floor was completed. It is known as Gothic not because of its access to light (which is not present) but because of the rib vaults that hold up the low ceiling. The unusual aspect of the rib vaults is that they go right into the outside walls, without the support of a visible column. Built c.1385 for use as a cemetery chapel, it was used as an ossuary (a repository for skeletal remains) for a time, and now it is vacant and empty, quiet and serene.

Running my hands over the columns and the walls – I feel the cold stone beneath my fingers. Studying the room from every angle, corner to corner, light and dark, I impress it into my memory.

I return to sit again on the bottom step to take in the silence – something that is so precious and rarely found when touring the ancient sites of the world – and know that I can sit here all day if I like. When I’m in a space like this, I always let my imagination run away with me … imagining not only what this building was like and what it was used for when it was built, but also what I would use it for if it were available for me to use. A meditation room? A painting studio? Would I like to live in a room like this?

The stairs at the side of the building lead to the roof where a sweeping view of the river and the green landscape, and of the old town of Kutna Hora can be seen.

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