We, the bones that are here await yours


It's either the creepiest example of recycling ever, or a sobering reminder of how fleeting this life is. Either way, the Capela Dos Ossos, or Chapel of Bones, in Évora is among my favorite Portugal side trips, so far. The bones used in this chapel are those of the inhabitants of the area who were disinterred from the local cemetery to make room for newer corpses.  

Beyond the somewhat macabre idea of creating a chapel from actual human bones, the place held a weird beauty, as well. The bones weren't simply stacked to make a space - the chapel is laid out meticulously in the same baroque style as the cathedrals of the day - with "decorative" columns of human bones and high arches outlined with skull and filled with bone filigree.

There was something oddly peaceful about the place. The only bones that were even slightly disturbing were the complete human skeletons laid out in display in one room - a reminder that these are not simply architectural elements, but rather actual human beings.  

It doesn't take long to go through the entire chapel, but it will stay with you for a lifetime.


 

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