We have been to some eerie places, no question about it. Capela dos Ossos, the Chapel of Bones in Evora, Portugal, tops our freakish list. Entering the macabre world of this ossuary, we crossed into the Twilight Zone. And as we did, we thought we had found something unique. Not so.
In fact, it’s not even the only chapel of bones in Portugal.
Whether they are called an ossuary, a bone church, a chapel of bones, or something else, buildings lined with human bones and skulls are out there. Many were created to solve overcrowding at the cemetery without disrespecting the dead. In fact, some religions consider the display of one’s bones to be an honour. Others look at it and see a gruesome display of inhumanity.
Travel bloggers highlight various chapel of bones from around the world
Tips for visiting an Ossuary
To date, the only church made of bones we have personally visited is the Capela dos Ossos Évora in Portugal. While these tips apply specifically to that ossuary, they are also general.
- Be respectful.
- Remember that while it is fascinating to adults, an ossuary visit might be terrifying to children. This especially applies to Evora. Like most others, Evora’s bone chapel features decorative arrangements. However, Evora adds two full skeletons hanging from chains, one being that of a child.
- Capela dos Ossos is open in the morning and then again in the late afternoon. Hours are limited and can be found here.
- There is a small entrance fee and an additional fee to take photos.
More on visiting Evora
- We drove to Evora as part of an extended road trip through Spain and Portugal.
- The Chapel of Bones is one of many things to do in Evora.
- Expanding our eerie experience, we stayed at a former Renaissance palace called Hotel Solar de Monfalim. While not advertised as haunted, we had some bizarre experiences.
- Without a car, Evora is accessible by bus or Eurail.
- If you are staying in Lisbon, an all-day tour is a great way to see Evora. As the old town Évora is a UNESCO site, tour operators have many options, so be sure to read the details. We like the choices of this 8-hour sightseeing tour of Evora and Monsaraz as it visits the key sites of Evora, including the bone church, and includes a wine tasting in nearby Monsaraz.
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This is spooky. I never heard of this before. Glad you shared
I’d add the Capuchin Crypt in Rome… came upon it by mistake. Quite startling…
While we were trying to decide just how we feel about ossuaries, we realized that perhaps, with that constant reminder of how short life can be and all that’s left of us when we’re gone, we might be encouraged to do more. Although, we’re still not sure we would “do” an ossuary visit. 😉
I find these rather eerie, but it sure would be a reminder of our mortality and thus provide an incentive to amend one’s ways before life’s end!
Esha M Dutta
Never been to an Ossuary before! I’m not sure I’d visit a place that looks so creepy!!! But, thank you very much for sharing the story and the pictures of this place with the rest of us, today. Got to learn something new today.
Such a great post. I’m a bit macabre, so I’d love visiting all of these sites. I pinned it so I can refer to it for when I visit these countries.
I had no idea there were so many chapels of bones. Amazing and a little creepy.
Thia was so eerie. I wasn’t sure to be angry ( because these are real people ) or excited or scared or to be thoughtful to be respectful. At the end I’m still confused to be why they would create such things. Even now I’m not sure. One thing it was interesting. See ya Rhonda.
I have seen collections of bones in cathedral catacombs here in the UK. Not something I would search out though.
They all look creepy to me!
I like all the eerieness but probably not if i was at them LOL
Have an eerietastic week Rhonda 🙂
I’m a scaredy cat so I may think thrice about visiting places like these.
Lyn aka The Travelling Lindfields
We once went to a Catacombs in Rome. I read that it is now closed to the public. There was a natural mummification process which occurred. The bodies buried there still looked like people – old wizened and dried up but people nevertheless. It was creepy and sad and strangely compelling.
I’ve been to the ossuary in Kutna Hora. My brother found it to be an interesting experience but it freaked me out a little. Add to that, I found the behaviour of the selfie brigade to be utterly disrespectful there.
I’ve been to several of these places, but who knew there were so many? Have you been to the catacombs in Palermo. Those are super-creepy.
We took a catacomb tour in Rome and were left speechless. I expected it to be interesting, but wasn’t expecting the solemnity.
I love places like this they keep us real and let us in on cultures and traditions we may never have the opportunity to learn. Fascinating stuff
That is so wicked. Its a little macabre but it is artistic and beautiful. Would really love to visit these places.
If I was going to France I’d go to the catacombs. have you seen the movie “as above so below” scary but this is what it’s about.
This chapel so eeirie! I’ve read about it a few times before, and I wonder what it would be like to stand inside amongst all those bones that once were living, breathing people.
The catacombs in Paris were so memorable. I didn’t realize there are so many ossuaries to tour. I guess I have no problem with dark tourism, but I would love to go to all of these 🙂
Not my cup of tea, but it is for many. Creepy to me. You did a great job researching this though.
Have a fabulous day, Rhonda. ♥
Oh wow this really is freaky and I was not expecting a dozen other places having similar things. You’re so right about not taking children incase they find it strange, I’d imagine you need to be of a certain age to understand these kinds of things.
L. Diane Wolfe
There are so many! That one in Poland is striking with the criss-crossed bones on the ceiling.
That is so interesting and spooky too! I am going to have to look into this place.
T. A. Miles
Morbid, yet fascinating. I find myself drawn to the more eerie aspects of history and culture. Thanks for sharing!
I would love to visit this place one day – it looks so cool!
Ouuu – that looks a bit creepy …. Sure they didn’t come to live at midnight??:-) 🙂 Ha ha – thanks for taking us along on the travel:-)
This is very cool! No end of ideas for the horror author here.
Hmmm, I am not sure sure about this place. I like the idea, but maybe I a a little scared at the same time. Either way its fascinating.
I loved reading about this and now have to ponder if it’s truly a place I’d want to visit. A bit creepy and a bit interesting all at the same time. Great photos!
On the headhunters trail (Borneo) we passed several caves with the remains of skeletons inthem – the guides always gave them a cigarette (lit) as a mark of respect that they weren’t forgotten.
I thought the torture museum in Amsterdam was freaky, but this one is even more!!!
These pictures are stunning. So glad I clicked on this blog and saw this. Fantastic post 🙂
Wow! Never heard of an Ossuary before The photos are definitely AmaZing, Rhonda. Not sure how I would react to seeing something like that for real. 🙂 Fascinating!
Absolutely amazing! It looks both creepy and amazing at the same time. I would love the chance to go there one day and see it for myself. Your pictures are beautiful though and make me feel as though I’m there.
Amazing place. Great post. Never been to an Ossuary. I think you’re going to introduce me to many things I’ve never known about. Not sure I’d be able to enter it, would depend what the energy was like.
Hi Rhonda .. in the middle of southern Portugal – what an incredible place .. I’ve never seen an Ossuary but know of them -usually smaller .. this is just extraordinary .. and must have been a wonderful place to visit … clever of you to find it .. and then show us – thanks Hilary
OMG, that blows my mind! It is kind of cool though. Is there a reason the bones are in the chapel rather than elsewhere? Do people still place them there … oooh I really should google this. My girls are going to love it!
are they real bones from a human Rhonda?
Rhonda, We have visited this ossuary as well. Chilling, but very cool!
S. Katherine Anthony
Wow…I mean, wow. Like really wow! I don’t think I’d want to go. I’m a chicken. Eeeeeek.
I think this would be a fascinating place! I’d feel like I had to run my hands over the bones. Creepy, I know. But I’m like that with most great architecture.
oh my dear gawd!!! that looks so scary and intriguing as well. I would love to visit it.
It’s more than a little creepy but kind of beautiful at the same time. Thanks for visiting my blog earlier 🙂
That is really creepy! Thanks for the share…I find it fun living through other people’s pictures 🙂
Ugh! That is a freaky place.
Oooh. That is very creepy. I like it though.
Oh my God, I would freak out I guess.
I think I will be adding this to my places to visit sometime. While a bit creepy, there’s something very poetic about it.
Wow … I love it! But then I do love strange things. Amazing photos! 🙂
Alex J. Cavanaugh
That would be so surreal!