Monday, Nov. 01, 2010

Capela dos Ossos

Attached to the Igreja Real de São Francisco, this macabre monument to mortality, the "Chapel of Bones," has been the boast of Portugal's Evora region since the 16th century. Local Franciscan monks wanted to remind their parishioners of life's transient nature, so they constructed the chapel almost entirely out of the skulls and femur bones of an estimated 5,000 exhumed monks. Skulls are the primary design element and have been methodically arranged into a corona around the ceiling, comprising the world's creepiest crown molding. They dot the chapel's columns, line its walls and are even featured on the altar. At the entrance to the chapel reads an inscription that would make even the biggest skull enthusiast back away slowly: "Nós ossos que aqui estamos pelos vossos esperamos." The translation? "Our bones that are here wait for yours."