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Portuguese Chapel of Bones – the chapel made out of 5000 cadavers


The Portuguese city of Évora is home to one peculiar and even frightening chapel.

This chapel was built during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The name of this chapel is the Chapel of Bones.

Three monks decided to make a chapel and use the bones and skulls as a decoration within the chapel. Bones were even used in mortar. 5,000 cadavers are a part of the Chapel of Bones.

The message in Spanish is written over the threshold, above the entrance to the chapel. The translated message is We bones, are here, waiting for yours. This message corresponds to the Franciscan concept of the uselessness of the human existence.


The chapel decorated with bones and skulls is 18.7 meters long and 11 meters wide. Apart from bones and skulls, the roof of the chapel is decorated with motifs connected with death. Skulls are placed around doors, windows and arches.

According to the sources, the bones used belonged to numerous cadavers which could not be buried because the cemeteries did not have enough space. Other sources revealed that the bones were obtained after a disaster happened in the town of Monte Maior, when a thunderbolt struck arsenal within the castle keep.


The chapel is even decorated with two mummified human bodies. These unusual pieces of decoration hang from one of the walls. The two bodies used as decoration belong to a grown man and a child.

It is believed that two bodies hanging from the wall used to belong to a father and his son. Son, together with the help of his father, mistreated his mother. The mother put a curse on them both before she died. According to another story, the bodies are of an adulterer and his sinful offspring.

Another popular ossuary is located quite close to Portuguese Chapel of Bones. It is known as Chapel of Souls of Campo Maior (Capela de las Almas de Campo Maior).

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