Carthusian Church Monastery – Kartuzy, Poland - Atlas Obscura

Carthusian Church Monastery

Kartuzy, Poland

The coffin-shaped church was once home to monks who slept in coffins. 


It’s hard to tell from the ground, but if you take to the skies, you’ll see that this 14th-century Gothic church is shaped like a coffin. That isn’t its only coffin connection, either.

The church was part of a monastery built in 1380 by a group of Carthusian monks from Bohemia. The small brotherhood was rather eccentric and had a macabre custom of sleeping in coffins.

The building’s inside has a somber atmosphere. Its clock its is particularly dark: an angel clutching the Grim Reaper’s scythe hangs from its pendulum, which is inscribed with the foreboding message “each passing second brings you closer to your death.” Rows of carved wooden seats cover the floor, and religious artwork lines the walls.

The church is the largest surviving old Carthusian monastery, and it’s also the best-preserved Carthusian church in Poland. It has changed a bit throughout the years. Its lead sheet iron roof, which adds to its distinct coffin shape, was an 18th-century addition.

If you pop into the church’s cafe, you’ll be able to snack on tasty treats and watch a short, informational film about the village.

Know Before You Go

You can walk by the church at any time, though the only real way to appreciate its coffin shape is with a birds-eye view. Be respectful of the fact that this is still an active church. The church is open to tourists on weekdays from 9 a.m. until 5:40 p.m. On Sundays, you may visit from 1:30 to 5:40. 

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