A Travellerspoint blog

Plagues, Epidemics and Memorials - History Repeating Itself


Pestsäule - Plague Column - Vienna Austria

Travel is my passion, and taking photos of my travels is my favorite hobby. So when faced with social distancing and the threat of quarantine due to the COVID-19 virus, I find going through my travel photos and thinking of the beautiful places I have visited brings some sort of calmness to the madness all around me right now. With all of the attention focused on Corona Virus today, I found myself being led to photos I have taken of Plague Memorials in Central Europe.

Santa Maria della Salute, Venice Italy


In the summer of 1630 and up until 1631 a wave of the plague assaulted Venice killing nearly a third of its population. As an offering for the city's deliverance from the plague the city vowed to build a church dedicated to Our Lady of Health, Santa Maria della Salute. The city decided not to dedicate the church just to the plague or a patron saint. They decided to dedicate it to the Virgin Mary who they believed was the protector of their Republic. I visited Venice in the spring of 2002. When I arrived in Piazza San Marco and walked to the water front of the Grand Canal this beautiful basilica dominated the horizon.



Church of All Saints - Sedlac, Czech Republic

Two years after my visit to Venice, I traveled to Prague in the Czech Republic in 2004. I returned again in 2015. Both times I visited the Kostnice located in the village of Sedlac. The Kostnice is an Ossuary or Bone Church. It is named the Church of All Saints. In all of my travels this is truly one of the most fascinating places I have seen.





The plague Column of the Virgin Mary Immaculate in Kutná Hora, Czech Republic


Just a short walk from Sedlac is the village of Kutna Hora. Located here is a Plague Column. I have seen several of these through out Europe. This one was built as a reminder of the death from the plague of the early 1700's. There is a statue of Mary on top of the column as on many Plague columns. Many of these columns were built to honor Mary in hopes for protection from other plagues.

Trinity Monument - Prague, Czech Republic



The Trinity Monument is another Plague Column in the Czech Republic. This one is located in Prague's Lesser Town Square. At one time there was a pillory and gallows here. So this square is historically associated with death. But now there is a monument here that memorialized the end of a disease that plagued the city of Prague. After the outbreak of the early 1700's was finally under control, the city erected this Plague Column.

Pestsäule - Plague Column - Vienna Austria


The Trinity Column in Vienna is located on Graben, one of the main streets in the inner city. It is one of the better know Plague Columns in Europe. It was built after the great epidemic of 1679 and is one of the cities great pieces of art often compared to the work of Bernini in Rome. While I was in Vienna I was not worried about the plague. My luggage was lost and never arrived. So I was concerned with buying underwear in a city where I did not speak the language. I took photos of the monument without really knowing what it represented until I returned home and was doing research on my photos. At the time of the plague the Habsburg emperor Leopold I fled the city but vowed to erect a mercy column if the epidemic would end.


.These churches and monuments were erected to memorialize the loss from the great plagues that challenged the western world in their time. They were also created to ask forgiveness for the sins they felt lead to these plagues and in hopes to protect their people from future epidemics. After the horrors of 9/11 we have build great monuments and displayed pieces of the World Trade Center in our major cities across the country. We have one here in Baltimore. In New York we have build a towering sky scraper complex to replace and memorialize the original World Trade Center. I am wondering tonight what will happen at the end of the current world wide pandemic. Will we be inspired to create art and memorial fountains to remember it? Will we learn from our greed and hoarding that is harming us now? Will our current leaders promise to build memorials to our sacrificies. Or will they build great monuments to themselves to brag about their self imagined great accomplishments in fighting this enemy? We will survive. We will recover. But will we learn from our mistakes?

Posted by littlesam1 18:11 Tagged prague vienna europe czech_republic pandemic kutna_hora covid-19 black_death plague_columns plague_memporials sedlac

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Interesting stuff. Lovely pictures. I can't remember any of the history associated with most of the pictures I've taken during my travels. lol

by Barbara Snyder

I take a lot of notes Barbara. I have been writing travel tips way back when Virtual Tourist first started over twenty years so I got into the habit of documenting things. And of course Google is my friend also.

by littlesam1

What a good idea to do a blog like this! I've been googling epidemics and there have been a hell of a lot of them throughout history. I guess we have been extremely lucky until now. With modern medicine and scientific advances we had been doing very well.

by irenevt

There are lots of similarities though when you research through all of them. It's scary but also fascinating.

by littlesam1

Yes I agree it is fascinating. Did you look at Alec Trevor's blog? He's just written one on an old plague village in England. I'd never heard of the place. Now I want to visit when life is normal again.

by irenevt

I will check that out right now.

by littlesam1

We have been discussing about this in here too, I think people have the urge to do something else too after the crisis than pick up the peaces. Monuments like these are one way to satisfy that urge.

Our Corona-crisis is really scary comparing to the "old plague-crisis". In the old plague times with poor hygienic and lack of medical knowledge the people were moving around hell of a lot less (pardon my language) than now so the disease would run its course and life would relatively fast get back to normal. But now when people travel around a lot it's a entirely different matter..
Just thinking "out loud" :)

by hennaonthetrek

Fascinating idea for a blog Larry :) It hadn't occurred to me to wonder about whether we'll build any sort of monuments once we get through the other side of the current pandemic, but I guess some countries/cities might. But the main monument I would like to see if at all possible is our small businesses managing to survive and thrive once more.

by ToonSarah

Ive been to Kutna hora,it slipped my memory. Thanks for visiting my blog on Eyam. Lets hope that modern medicine beats the present trouble.

by alectrevor

It's good to talk to each other during the crisis. Appreciate the comments and all of your personal thoughts on this.

by littlesam1

Fascinating. Oddly, I had just purchased a book on the plagues and now I'm not sure I want to read it. I suppose someday someone will make a movie of all we are currently experiencing.

The 1918 flu infected an estimated 500 million people worldwide, including an estimated 675,000 people who died. Added to WWI it was near-total devastation. Those were horrible times. Then they went through the Great Depression. My grandparents had very hard lives.

by Beausoleil

Very interesting! The Bone Church especially so! Thanks for this.

by katieshevlin62

Let's hope Covid ends soon!

by kmmk17

I personally think that mankind doesn't learn from their mistakes. I hope they do, but I am sure of it that is not the case. But a girl can't dream of course!

While the virus is still amongst us, I hate the fact that we can't travel, but I love to read all the blogs ... it makes up for the loss.

I am really intrigued with your little bone church, have to remember this one!

by Ils1976

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