Kostel Svatého Jiří Ghost Church - Atlas Obscura

Kostel Svatého Jiří Ghost Church

Manětín, Czechia

Thirty creepy ghosts now inhabit this decaying 14th-century church. 


Update as of November 2023: The church is closed for renovations indefinitely. 

Kostel svatého Jiří (St. George’s Church) in Luková, Czechia, has been neglected for more than 40 years. Believing it to be haunted, the congregation refused to set foot into the church, which slowly fell into decay. Until it was saved by ghosts.

Consecrated in 1352, the church was victim to an unusual number of fires over its long years, and was partly rebuilt and fixed many times. The final spooky event took place in 1968 and caused the congregation to flee. During a funeral service, part of the roof fell down into the church. From then on the congregation, who always suspected as much, was convinced that the church was haunted and refused to enter. They held mass under the open sky rather than set foot inside the haunted building.

While Czechoslovakia was under Communist rule this was not considered a problem, as the government was not a friend of religion anyhow. The years that followed have not been kind to the little church. On top of the increasing decay, everything that was possible to move was stolen, including paintings, religious items, statues, the clock in the tower, and even the bell. The rest became victim to vandalism.

Not too long ago, some people decided that the church, a cultural monument of Czechia, was worth saving. Unfortunately, nobody could come up with the money to restore it. Then Jakub Hadrava, a sculpture student at the University of West Bohemia, had an idea: He sculpted ghosts to inhabit the abandoned church. He used fellow students as models, wrapping them in plastic and raincoats. Slowly but surely 30 ghosts came to “live” in the Kostel svatého Jiří, creating quite a spooky ambiance in the dilapidated place.

Jakub Hadrava also wanted to create a monument for the difficult history of the area. Luková, once called Lukowa and part of the Austria-Hungarian empire, became part of Czechoslovakia after World War I. In 1938, the Nazis annexed this area to Germany and declared every German-speaking inhabitant German, which led to the expulsion of all German-speaking citizens from Czechoslovakia after the Second World War. Jakub Hadrava’s ghosts resemble the ghosts of the German-speaking people who once lived here and built this church.

The plan worked. Word about the “Ghost Church” got around and it made it into the international press. Ever since, people have come to see the haunted church of Luková. Many visitors have left donations to save the church, making it possible to fix the roof and secure the sturdiness of the structure. The people of Luková have likewise embraced their haunted church. The congregation does not hold mass under the free sky anymore, but happily comes into the church, where they sit among their friendly ghosts. 

Know Before You Go

The ghost church is not open for visitors, you can look in from the outside. If you are lucky, the caretaker may be on site, and if you ask him, he may let you in to take a look.

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