The Bone Chapel in Faro or Capela Dos Ossos as it is known in Portuguese is a very special place to visit. Morbid? Yes. Scary? Yes. But at the same time, it is a fascinating and amazing place. At first, you will think that you have arrived at the wrong place and that this is a regular church. But wait for it – the bone chapel is also there.
A regular church with a different backside
So when we entered the church we were all surprised. Where were the human bones? This was a regular church with an altar and all of the things that regular churches have. Mini got sure that this was the wrong place. However, since I had done the research for this visit – I continued to look. And there it was – a small sign saying Bone Chapel and a dart pointing us where to go.
We ended up in another room and it looked almost like we had entered into someone’s house and into their living room. So once again we felt like this was not the right place. But then I tried to open a door and out we went. In the yard of the church, we finally found the bone chapel. Mini and I have seen them before, in Poland and in Czech Republik. However, we were there with our friends Fritte and Taina and it was a first for both of them.
Bone Chapel in Faro, Portugal
So the Capela Dos Ossos is a chapel (or actually two) that is decorated with human remains. Yes, that’s right real human bones from top to bottom inside the chapel. Mini and I got right into business – Mini taking pictures and me trying to get the feeling for the place and just strolling around. Fret and Taina were both amazed and at the same time horrified. Since they had never seen this before they kept shaking their heads and asking if it really was for real.
And I understand them. It is a very special feeling when you see something like this for the first time. And there were a lot of bones and it looked like they were placed with some sort of cement. And when we are on the subject of morbid – next to the bone chapel there is a kindergarten. Yes, and you hear the laughter of children during your visit here.
To whom do the bones belong to?
The bones in this ossuary are the remains of 1,245 monks. Their bones were displaced when the ossuary was built and this is the result of it all. And when you take a closer look you will find some odd and creepy things. There is something that looks like crumbs when you look up close. Is it parts of deteriorating bones? Or what is that? Someone had taken a pen and written on one of the sculls. And there might be a place where ants live or frequently travel. When I took a closer look I saw a path of ants that were walking on the bones and skulls.
Thinking of the moral of this kind of places
Is it ok to have human bones as a tourist attraction? I think so! But who am I to say if it’s ok or not?! I like the fact that you defuse the whole thing about death. Death in our culture is met in a certain way and you have to be in a certain way around it. For example – in Sweden, you are not allowed to keep the ashes of a loved one at home. That is forbidden. I think that it is up to each and everyone to decide how they should act and react to death.
I have a small part of our dog’s ashes in a necklace around my neck and I have been carrying them for ten years now. Since the necklace looks “different” people often ask me about it. The reaction I get is very different from person to person. Some think that it is great and some think that it is morbid. Well enough of the philosophical thoughts – for this time!
Information about the Bone Chapel in Faro, Portugal
Address: Largo do Carmo, Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Carmo, Faro 8000-148, Portugal.
Opening hours: Monday – Friday: 10.00 – 13.00 and 15.00 – 17.30. Saturday: 10.00 – 13.00. Closed on Sundays.
Entrance fee: 2 euro per person (2017).
Faro has even one more bone chapel, but a smaller one in Oldtown.