Ossuaries, which are chambers for storing human bones, came into existence when places didn’t have enough land or resources to bury the dead. Bodies were often exhumed and cleaned to a skeletal state, at which point they would be stacked neatly in holy places or in places that had seen vast amounts of human death, mostly around plague spots, battlefields, and massacre sites. Some of the oldest and most elaborate ossuaries are places of macabre beauty, where visitors can stroll through and contemplate their own mortality.
Atlas Obscura, one of the foremost sites of macabre traveling, has compiled one of the best collections of ossuary studies out there. Here are some of my favorites.
Sedlec Ossuary has a long history, beginning in the 13th century when the Abbot of the Sedlec Monastery (Abbot Henry) brought a handful of earth back from a journey to the Grave of the Lord in Jerusalem. He scattered this “holy soil” across the Sedlec cemetery, securing its place as one of the most desired burial sites for people all over Bohemia and the surrounding countries. Everyone wanted to be buried in that handful of the Holy Land and more than 30,000 were. But it wasn’t long before there simply wasn’t enough room for everyone to rest in peace, and the bodies were moved to a crypt to make room for the newly dead.
In 1870, a local woodcarver, František Rint was employed for the dark task of artistically arranging the thousands of bones. Rint came up with the Bone Church’s stunning chandelier, as well as the amazing Schwarzenberg coat of arms, which includes a raven pecking at the severed head of a Turk–all made of human bone. Rint was responsible for bleaching all of the bones in the ossuary in order to give the room a uniform look. His artist’s signature is still on the wall today–naturally, in his medium of choice, bone.
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I did a stopover in Niš, Serbia and one of the attractions is The Skull Tower, which is a tower composed largely of human skulls. The tower is 3m high, and originally contained 952 skulls. #serbia #nis #niš #skulltower #skull #bw #blackandwhite #travel #backpacking #solotravel #travelling #europe
The year 1809 marked the turning point in the course of the First Serbian Uprising against the Ottoman Empire (1804-1813). The outnumbered rebel army faced a 36,000 strong force of Turkish imperial guards near the strategically important southern city of Niš. Rather then surrender or flee they decided to put up a desperate last stand at Čegar Hill. Faced with imminent annihilation, the rebel commander Stevan Sinđelić in an act of desperation fired a shot into a gunpowder keg at the fully stocked gun powder room, blowing up his entire army as well as wiping out enemy soldiers who were already flooding the rebel trenches.
Deeply angered by the rebel force’s actions, the Turkish commander Hurshid Pasha decided to teach a grim lesson to the Serbian nation. The bodies of the dead rebels were mutilated. Their skins were pealed off their decapitated heads, stuffed up with straw, and sent to the Imperial court in Istanbul as proof of Turkish victory. The skulls were used as building blocks for a tower built by the main road at the entrance of the city. A warning to the local populace of an impending fate to any potential future rebels.
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I get that bone churches or ossuaries aren't on everyone's list of places to visit... but to me, they are endlessly fascinating (and not altogether macabre). This is one of the very last of its kind; a beinhaus started in the 1720s in a tiny, mountainside town with limited burial space. 10-15 years after death, bodies were once disinterred, bleached in sun and moonlight, then respectfully marked by an artist with roses or wreathes of oak or ivy to celebrate the life of the person. 700 of the 1,200 in this small ossuary are elaborately painted.
Behind the Hallstatt Catholic Church, near the 12th-century St. Micheal’s Chapel, in a small and lovingly cared for cemetery is the Hallstatt Beinhaus, also known as the Charnel House. A small building, it is tightly stacked with over 1,200 skulls. Because Hallstatt finds itself in such a lovely location, it also finds itself in very short supply of burial grounds.
In the 1700s, the church began digging up corpses to make way for the newly dead. The bodies, which had been buried for only 10 to 15 years, were then stacked inside the charnel house. Lest this all sound overly callous to the memory of the dead, there is actually a charm to the whole affair that Hallstatt can’t seem to escape even with a room full of skulls.
Once the skeletons were exhumed and properly bleached in the sun, the family members would stack the bones next to their nearest kin. In 1720, a tradition began of painting the skulls with symbolic decorations, as well as dates of birth and death so that the dead would be remembered, even if they no longer had a grave. Of the 1,200 skulls, some 610 of them were lovingly decorated with an assortment of symbols — laurels for valor, roses for love, and so on. The ones from the 1700s are painted with thick dark garlands, while the newer ones, from the 1800s on, bear brighter floral styles.
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Сегодня я хочу вас познакомить с одним из самых жутких мест Рима. Церковь Санта Мария делла Кончеционе известна своей криптой, в интерьере которой использованы кости и черепа 4000 монахов, умерших в период с 1528 по 1870 гг. Церковь была построена в начале 17 в. по заказу кардинала Антонио Барберини, члена Ордена капуцинов. Его старший брат, Папа Урбан 8, благословил закладку первого камня в фундамент церкви в праздничный день, посвящённый св. Франциску (капуцины отпочковались от францисканцев). Именно поэтому одно из центральных живописных произведений внутри церкви посвящено именно ему и принадлежит кисти Караваджо. Антонио Барберини был похоронен под алтарем. На его надгробной плите содержится надпись, которую завещал сам кардинал: «Hic iacet pulvis cinis et nihil» («Здесь покоится пепел, прах и ничего более»). В боковых капеллах находятся захоронения святых и монахов Ордена капуцинов. Свод и стены катакомб, состоящих из пяти помещений, выложены человеческими костями в виде узоров в стиле барокко. На полу лежит грунт, привезенный из Святой Земли Палестины. Лампы на потолке созданы из позвонков, вдоль стен расположены альковы из черепов, где хранятся скелеты в монашеском одеянии. В одном из помещений находится скелет с косой – это двухлетняя девочка, племянница папы Сикста V. Над входом в подземелье расположена надпись: «Una volta che abbiamo che ora - tu. Un giorno vi sarà il fatto che ora - noi» («Когда-то мы были тем, что сейчас - вы. Когда-нибудь вы станете тем, что сейчас - мы»). До сих пор толком не ясно, что могло послужить мотивом для создания такого необычного кладбища. Некоторые предполагают, что братья-капуцины хотели таким образом напомнить живым о бренности тела и мимолетности человеческой жизни. #VacanzeRomaneConD #inrhome #roma #italy #italia #rome #romanvacation #vacanceromane #travelgram #travelphotography #traveller #traveltheworld #instatravel #instatrip #romanempire #vatican #santamariadellaconcezione #cappuccini
Mark Twain wrote about it in his 1869 book Innocents Abroad. When Twain asked one of the monks what would happen when he died, the monk responded, “We must all lie here at last.” And lie there they do. Some 4,000 Capuchin friars who died between 1528 and 1870 are still lying, hanging, and generally adorning the Santa Maria della Concezione crypt in Rome.
In 1631, the Capuchin friars - so-called because of the “capuche” or hood attached to their religious habit - left the friary of St. Bonaventure near the Trevi Fountain and came to live at the Santa Maria della Concezione, of which only the church and crypt remain. They were ordered by the Pope’s brother to bring the remains of the deceased friars along with them to their new home, so that all the Capuchin friars might be in one place.
Rather than simply burying the remains of their dead brethren, the monks decorated the walls of the crypts with their bones as a way of reminding themselves that death could come at anytime; one must always be ready to meet God. A plaque in the crypt reads: “What you are now, we once were; what we are now, you shall be.”
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"Ossements de l'ancien cimetière de la Magdeleine" 💀came originally out the Madeline Cemetery. From the parish of Sainte-Madeleine de la Ville-I'Évêque That closed in 1794 and moved with the four cemeteries that joined together to get rid of corpses from the French revolution. From all the perish that came from that time all the cemeteries eventually became what is now known as Les Catacombes de Paris, c'est aussi. There is SO much history in the catacombs it's kind of scary to even think about. I visited the some of the #catacombs in #rome and learned that the bones that holds all the centuries of bones there now originally came from the Roman Catacombs 🤔🤔 #bucketlist #paris #pariscatacombs #catacombesdeparis #backpacker #worldphotographer #worldtraveler #traveldestination #nakedplanet #natgeo #lonelyplanet #nature #neverstopexploring #welivetoexplore #optoutside #undergroundcemetery #europe #eurotrip #france #wanderlust #tourist #jetsetter #jetsettering
The popular site houses the skeletal remains of some six to seven million former Parisians. Not all areas of the Catacombs are open to the public. Back in the late 18th century, cemeteries were becoming over-populated. Cemeteries such as Les Innocents were so stuffed with the dead that it led to improper burials, open graves, and unearthed corpses. Neighbors began getting sick with infectious diseases due to the unhealthy conditions of the cemetery.
Les Innocents was not the only cemetery that was condemned. Many other graveyards were becoming overpopulated, causing problems for the inhabitants of Paris. With tons of empty quarries, police and priests alike discreetly moved the bones to the renovated section of the tunnel over the period between 1787 and 1814. As some notable people were buried in those “crowded” cemeteries, it is likely that their bones were transferred to the Catacombs.
The Catacombs became a popular attraction for royal families and the people of importance and in 1867, the area was opened to the general public.