The Church of Bones

If you’ve ever been to Kutná Hora in the Czech Republic then chances are you’ll be familiar with their most famous tourist attraction: The Church of Bones. This is not just a name either The Church of Bones is literally made out of human bones. In the 13th century CE, a priest came home from Palestine with a pocketful of soil that he then sprinkled in the cemetery that surrounded the Chapel of All Saints. From that point on the graveyard was an overwhelmingly popular burial site (especially for aristocrats). In fact it was so popular that they quickly ran out of space so they began exhuming bodies in order to make room for newcomers. The remains that were exhumed from the graveyard were placed in the chapel. The bones grew so many that by 1870 František Rint, a woodcarver, was commissioned to use these bones as decoration for the chapel and to “create a reminder of the impermanence of human life and inescapable death”(site).This is exactly what he did.

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Even though this may seem very off topic for a history of urban development class it is a solution to aid in the functionality of this city. By means of being able to store upwards of 40,000 human remains in one chapel. Besides this, it is an undeniably beautiful (albeit creepy) piece of historical architecture that brings tourists in from all over the world. And The Church of Bones is not the only example of its kind.

Paris had a similar problem, it was such a popular city to live and die in that they too needed a solution for the large amount of human remains within the city. Therefore they built catacombs, and between the years 1786-1788 virtually all bodies in Paris were exhumed from their burial spots and placed in the catacombs. It somewhat resembles (to a lesser extent) the Church of Bones in the Czech Republic. However the catacombs hold upwards of an astonishing 6 million bodies.

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So it is easy to see that the catacombs of Paris are less artistic than the Church of Bones however both places managed to solve the same problem. They needed a new place to store or bury the exhumed bodies that were taking up all of the desirable grave plots so they found ways to not only store the remains but to turn them into points of interest for the cities themselves. Now they are seen as tourist destinations and there are people today who want to be part of these displays when they pass, which is in fact possible. Would you be interested in being a part of one of these displays?

SOURCES

http://www.outsideprague.com/kutna_hora/bone_church.html

Notes from ANTH 430 Tatiana Nomokonova. Nov. 2015

Photos:

https://fullbodytransplant.wordpress.com/2010/10/03/chthon-and-the-sedlec-ossuary/

http://sciencefactorama.blogspot.ca/2015/01/caves-of-human-corpses-catacombs-of.html

http://www.opposingviews.com/i/gallery/entertainment/cathedral-made-bones-incredible-sight

The Urban Food Revolution and its Effect on City Planning

I recently found a very interesting online presentation on the Urban Development Institute Kelowna website called The Urban Food Revolution: Changing the Way we Design Cities and created by Peter Ladner. The presentation begins with an overwhelming amount of problems that are negatively impacting our society. One of the problems that Ladner brings up is the way that we produce and consume food in today’s society. One of the first things worth mentioning here are the added health risks with the type and quantity of food we eat in a large part of the world. In Canada alone the Health Care system spent $10 billion on diabetes in the year 2000. This is projected to increase to about $17 billion by the year 2020.
Another problem brought up was unsurprisingly, pollution. It is widely known that humans create much of the co2 levels in the atmosphere that is currently causing drastic climate change all over the world. However many people are unaware that the largest producers of co2 are in fact, cows. Yet the demand for beef is so high that rain forests are being chopped down in order to make room for more cattle, even though there are many countries whose cow population outnumber the people. Some examples being: Uruguay, New Zealand, Argentina, Australia, as well as Brazil. (site) Yet the demand continues to grow.

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So what does this all have to do with Urban Planning? Well the idea of The Urban Food Revolution is that it is meant to fix these problems and more. Essentially this movement is an increased global interest in locally grown food. It has been common knowledge for a while that local organic food is better for you because of the lack of pesticides, gmo’s, sugar, and so on. Also that without these added substances our food becomes much richer in nutrients. Now according to Ladner’s presentation, besides the increased interest in natural and local food there has also been a movement of people wanting to control the growth of their own food. Therefore many governments have begun making changes to their cities . For instance it is stated that the government in Seoul, Korea would like to implement the idea of personal food-growing plots for each citizen.

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Another example Ladner used was a grocery store in London that has recently begun growing their vegetables on the roof. They are calling it ‘Food from the sky’ with the idea being that it is possible to grow and sell fruit and vegetables in a city. (site) Ladner also uses Montreal as an example as they supposedly have the world’s first commercial rooftop greenhouse called Lula Farms.

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Therefore, the whole idea behind this presentation is that hopefully cities around the world, including Kelowna, can begin implementing new ways the people to buy or produce their own local food, starting simply with garden food and hopefully moving past that to the point where each city can be self-sufficient as well as much healthier in regards to food production.

Sources:

http://www.udiokanagan.ca/wp-content/uploads/Peter-Ladner-Presentation-Apr.-23-2015.pdf

http://beef2live.com/story-world-cattle-inventory-vs-human-population-country-0-111575

http://foodfromthesky.org.uk

Pictures:

http://www.saawinternational.org/cows.htm

http://www.cityfarmer.info/2010/10/29/commercial-rooftop-garden-in-montreal-is-worlds-first/

http://www.tcgn.ca/wiki/wiki.php?n=VolunteerOpportunities.FrontPage

European cities vs Canadian cities

On the first day of our Urban History class the students were asked a simple question about some differences between European cities and the city of Kelowna. Even though we’ve had several newer class discussions since this topic was brought up I could not help but feel as though there was still more to say on this subject.

 Many good points were mentioned during this discussion such as different means of inter-city transportation,

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(Venice, Italy 2012)

Language,

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(Villach, Austria 2012)

History,

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(Rome, Italy 2012)

Food… (especially the manner of preparing said food),

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(Paros, Greece 2012)

and of course the general ambiance.

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(Paris, France 2012)

Probably one of the most prominent differences I noticed when visiting European cities was that even though like all towns and cities they too can get congested by road traffic, there is still almost always a large portion of the city specifically for pedestrians. Even though most of these cities are generally much more heavily populated than your average Canadian city, anytime I was in an area that was reserved solely for people and not vehicles the vibe of the whole city felt more relaxed. In contrast to the normal hustle bustle feel you get when visiting a large city. Of course this still cannot be attributed to all cities in Europe but many of the ones I have been through during my travels have not disappointed in this respect.   

 A more specific example of pedestrian streets was in Ljubljana, Slovenia. The streets they set aside for pedestrian use were massive and could undoubtedly be enough space to allow people as well as road traffic and yet they were not used in that way.

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(Ljubljana, Slovenia 2012)

Even though the streets do not appear busy and overcrowded they certainly could if the pedestrians were pushed to sidewalks. Then all the middle space could be used for vehicles like in so many Canadian cities. However by doing that you are discouraging exercise as well as taking away from the whole ambience of the city.

There were many things about European cities I fell in love with during my travels but still to this day the thing that stands out the most is the fact that you can be in a large overpopulated city such as London, Paris or Ljubljana and without even having to leave you can also get a relaxed small town vibe simply by heading away from the motor ways. I feel like all cities should incorporate this feature.