By glancing through these photos, you must think we are mixed up with our holidays – Halloween rather than Valentine’s Day. But no, this was our visit to the Capela dos Ossos, Chapel of the Bones, in Evora, Portugal on October 1, 2007. Loving horror movies and novels, and all things creepy, this was the perfect destination on our first trip to Spain and Portugal in 2007. Since that time, we discovered that other bone chapels exist in the world, and we also visited one in Rome, Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini, a few years later. Maybe we will post those photos sometime soon.
This chapel was built by Franciscan monks in the 16th century for purely pragmatic reasons. There were 42 different cemeteries in Evora taking up space that could otherwise be utilized for residences and retail buildings found in cities. So they exhumed 5,000 corpses and arranged the skulls and bones on the chapel walls as a contemplation on the inevitability of death. The archway leading into the chapel, shown in the first photo, translates as – “Our bones that are here wait for yours.”
After the first photo are, oh, hundreds more of bones and skulls, bones and skulls, bones and skulls. There is even a complete corpse hanging up! We thought you might tire of them, so after all of the bones is a very gold photo of the actual Church of St. Francis, where the Chapel of Bones resides. After that are three photos of the Prata Aqueduct in Evora, built in the 16th century to convey water into the city. In the first aqueduct photo, you can see that now a roadway crosses underneath it. The photo after that is most interesting, as it shows how residences and businesses were actually built into the arches. And then, lastly, you can see how they designed the arches to be smaller and smaller as the aqueduct comes down to street level.
We once again have saved a fun photo as the last! Europe loves hanging out laundry to dry, but it is usually on porches or in front/back yards. This laundry photo left us scratching our heads. As you can see, there was a long, white wall across the street from the church that ran for an entire block, with no houses, no gates, etc. And yet, someone from some other place ran a short laundry line on the wall and hung up a red shirt and two socks! A true mystery. Weird, but maybe not as weird as exhuming 5,000 graves and embellishing a chapel with the bones in decorative patterns!