Human remains are, by many, considered sacred and certainly off limits to gawking tourists. However, there have been architectural designers who have taken the human skeletons in ossuaries and turned them into a piece of structural art. Here are the tragically fascinating ossuaries you can visit around the world.
Catacombs of Paris
Arguably the most famous ossuary in the world is the Catacombs of Paris. This underground ossuary holds the remains of 6 million people. The catacombs were created when Parisian officials had to deal with 2 problems simultaneously: a series of cave-ins as well as overflowing cemeteries. Beginning in 1786, bones began being transferred to the fortified tunnels from cemeteries. In the early 1800s, a man named Louis-Étienne Héricart de Thury began creating the ossuary into the elegantly designed tunnels we know today.
The Brno ossuary, located in Czechia, is the second largest ossuary in Europe (second to the Catacombs). These bones are also believed to have been moved from overflowing cemeteries in the 1600s and 1700s. There are approximately 50,000 skeletons located here. Many of these people died from various diseases which can be told from the colorations of the bones. Many of the bones have an extra-yellow hue which means the person most likely died from cholera, while the red tinted bones mean death from the plague.
Convento de San Francisco Ossuary
Laying beneath a monastery in Lima, Peru is the Convento de San Francisco Ossuary. This ossuary, which was not discovered until 1943, is home to an estimated 70,000 remains. These catacombs are connected via underground tunnels which have passageways to multiple churches. The main connection is to the Franciscan Monastery. Visitors of the cathedral can look through various grates on the floor and see the artistically arranged and illuminated bones.
Sedlec Ossuary “Bone Church”
The Sedlec Ossuary also known as the “Bone Church”, is located in Kutna Hora, Czechia. A local woodcarver, František Rint, was given the opportunity to design the ossuary. Rint took his job very seriously and not only bleached all the skeletons but placed them into the most macabre art you will ever see. The ossuary includes two large bone chalices, four baroque bone candelabras, six enormous bone pyramids, and skull candle holders.