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Creeped Out At Évora’s Bone Chapel


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Felisha Mach



Welcome to the bone-chilling world of Évora’s Bone Chapel, a fascinating and eerie place that will send shivers down your spine. Located in the beautiful city of Évora, Portugal, this unique chapel is a must-visit for those seeking a macabre yet captivating experience.


Évora, known for its well-preserved medieval architecture and rich history, offers visitors a glimpse into the past. Amidst its cobblestone streets and historical landmarks, the Bone Chapel stands as a haunting reminder of the transience of life.


The Bone Chapel, also referred to as Capela dos Ossos in Portuguese, is an ossuary that dates back to the 16th century and is part of the Church of St. Francis. It is estimated that the bones of approximately 5,000 individuals from nearby cemeteries were used to adorn the walls and ceiling of this eerie place.


Visiting the Bone Chapel is not for the faint-hearted. Upon entering, you will be greeted by a chilling ambiance that will leave you with an indescribable feeling. The walls are covered in carefully arranged bones and skulls, creating a macabre yet strangely intricate mural.


The aim of this article is to delve into the history, symbolism, controversies, legends, and haunting experiences associated with Évora’s Bone Chapel. Join us as we take a closer look at this chilling attraction and unravel the mysteries that lie within its walls.


The History of Évora’s Bone Chapel

The history of Évora’s Bone Chapel dates back to the 16th century when it was created by the monks of the Franciscan Order. The chapel was intended as a stark reminder of the transient nature of life and the inevitability of death.


It is said that the monks wanted to construct a place where they could meditate on their own mortality and reflect on the brevity of human life. Inspired by similar ossuaries found in Europe, such as the Catacombs of Paris, they decided to gather the bones from nearby cemeteries and create a unique chapel right beneath the St. Francis Church.


The bones used in the construction of the chapel were primarily those of monks and locals who had been buried in nearby graveyards. The ossuary served as a way to make space for new burials and to honor the deceased.


Constructed over several years, the Bone Chapel features a mixture of carefully arranged bones and skulls, held together by mortar. The walls, arches, and ceiling are adorned with these haunting skeletal decorations, leaving visitors in awe of the macabre artistry.


While the exact number of individuals whose remains make up the chapel is unknown, it is estimated to be around 5,000. The bones are believed to have been gathered and organized by a monk named Friar João Evangelista, who took on the somber task of arranging this macabre masterpiece.


Over the centuries, Évora’s Bone Chapel has stood as a silent witness to the passage of time, surviving various historical events and remaining a testament to the fragility of life. Today, it stands as one of the most unique and haunting sites in Portugal, attracting visitors from around the world who are keen to explore its dark history and symbolism.


The Chilling Ambiance of the Bone Chapel

As you step foot into Évora’s Bone Chapel, you will immediately be consumed by a chilling ambiance unlike any other. The air is heavy with a sense of morbidity and the presence of the departed. The eerie silence adds to the spine-tingling atmosphere, making it a truly unforgettable experience.


The dimly lit interior of the chapel casts eerie shadows, heightening the sense of unease that fills the air. The soft flickering of candlelight creates an ethereal glow that dances upon the bones, lending an otherworldly quality to the space.


The carefully arranged bones and skulls that adorn every inch of the chapel’s walls create an unsettling yet captivating spectacle. From floor to ceiling, they form intricate patterns and designs, showcasing impressive craftsmanship while reminding visitors of their own mortality.


Every step you take echoes through the chamber, amplifying the feeling of being surrounded by the departed. The cold stone floors, worn smooth by centuries of visitors, contribute to the somber atmosphere.


The scent of incense lingers in the chapel, adding a mysterious and haunting aroma to the air. This unmistakable fragrance, combined with the visual impact of the bones, creates a sensory experience that is both mesmerizing and unsettling.


As you explore the chapel, the play of light and shadows on the bones creates an ever-changing and haunting scene. The ornate arches and alcoves carved into the walls provide small pockets of darkness, giving the impression that the skeletal figures are watching your every move.


The ambient temperature inside the chapel remains cool throughout the year, adding to the spine-chilling atmosphere. The combination of the somber lighting, the bone-covered walls, and the silence creates an overall sense of reverence for the departed and an eerie connection to the world beyond.


The chilling ambiance of Évora’s Bone Chapel is not easily forgotten. It is a place that leaves a lasting impression on those who dare to visit, evoking a range of emotions from fascination to unease. It serves as a sobering reminder of the fragility of life and the inevitability of death.


The Collection of Bones and Skulls

One of the most intriguing aspects of Évora’s Bone Chapel is the extensive collection of bones and skulls that adorn its walls and ceiling. The careful arrangement of these skeletal remains creates a macabre and visually striking display.


The bones and skulls used in the chapel are primarily those of monks and locals who were buried in nearby cemeteries. When the ossuary was created, the decision was made to use the remains of these individuals as a way to make space for new burials and to honor the deceased.


The collection includes a variety of bones, such as femurs, skulls, tibias, and ribs. Each bone is meticulously arranged to form intricate patterns and designs, showcasing the artistic capabilities of those who created this haunting masterpiece.


While the exact number of bones in the collection is unknown, it is estimated to be around 5,000. The bones are held together by mortar, ensuring their stability and longevity as part of the chapel’s structure.


One of the most captivating features of the Bone Chapel is the wall of skulls that greets visitors upon entry. These meticulously arranged skulls create a chilling backdrop, seemingly watching over those who enter the chapel.


As you explore further, you will notice that some areas of the chapel are adorned with crosses made entirely of bones. These symbolic crosses stand as a reminder of the connection between life and death, serving as a powerful representation of the cycle of life.


The collection of bones and skulls within Évora’s Bone Chapel instills a sense of awe and wonder in visitors. Each bone tells a story – a fragment of a life once lived. It is a testament to the transient nature of our existence and a visual representation of the inevitability of our own mortality.


While it may be unsettling to some, the intricate arrangement of these skeletal remains is a testament to the craftsmanship and artistic sensibilities of those who created this unique ossuary. It is a testament to their ability to transform death into a hauntingly beautiful symbol.


The Symbolism Behind the Bone Chapel

Évora’s Bone Chapel holds deep symbolic meaning, serving as a reminder of the transient nature of life and carrying various symbolic representations within its macabre walls.


One of the primary symbols found within the chapel is that of the skull. The skull has long been associated with death and mortality, reminding us that life is fleeting and that death is an inevitable part of the human experience. It serves as a memento mori, a visual representation of the impermanence of our existence.


The meticulously arranged bones and skulls also symbolize unity in death. Regardless of social status, wealth, or accomplishments, death is the great equalizer. Within the Bone Chapel, all skulls and bones are equal, reminding visitors of the common destiny we all share.


The crosses made from bones found in the chapel carry powerful religious symbolism. They serve as a representation of faith and the connection between life and death. They act as a reminder that death is not an end but a continuation of a spiritual journey.


Furthermore, the use of human remains in the construction of the chapel represents a form of memento mori art. It seeks to provoke contemplation and reflection on the transience of life and the inevitability of death.


The overall atmosphere and design of the Bone Chapel contribute to its symbolic significance. The dim lighting and silence create a somber ambiance, encouraging visitors to pause and reflect on their own mortality. The cold stone floors and walls, along with the lingering scent of incense, heighten the sense of reverence and contemplation.


Visiting the Bone Chapel is not meant to evoke fear or horror but rather to inspire introspection and a deeper understanding of the human condition. It prompts us to reflect on the brevity of life and the importance of cherishing each moment.


The Bone Chapel stands as a powerful symbol, encapsulating the fragility of life and the transitory nature of our existence. It serves as a reminder to live fully and to appreciate every precious moment we have.


The Controversy Surrounding Évora’s Bone Chapel

While Évora’s Bone Chapel is undeniably a unique and intriguing attraction, it has not been without controversy. The presence of human remains and the display of skulls and bones have sparked debate and raised ethical concerns.


One of the main sources of controversy is whether the use of human remains in the construction of the chapel is respectful or exploitative. Some argue that it is a powerful way to confront the fragility of life and contemplate mortality. They believe it serves as a reminder of the impermanence of our existence and the need to make the most of our time. Others, however, view the display as macabre and disrespectful, considering it a violation of the dignity of the deceased.


Another point of contention is whether the bones used in the chapel were sourced ethically. There have been allegations that the bones were obtained through unethical means, including grave robbing and desecration of burial sites. While it is difficult to verify these claims due to the time that has passed since the ossuary’s creation, the controversy surrounding the origins of the bones cannot be ignored.


Furthermore, there are ongoing debates about the responsibility of preserving the Bone Chapel and ensuring its long-term sustainability. The delicate nature of the bones and the constant influx of visitors pose a challenge in maintaining the integrity of the chapel. It has raised questions about the need for proper conservation practices and the implementation of measures to protect this historical and cultural heritage site.


In recent years, efforts have been made to address some of these concerns. The management of Évora’s Bone Chapel has taken steps to ensure the respectful treatment of the remains and to emphasize the historical and educational value of the site. This includes providing guided tours that promote a deeper understanding of the chapel’s cultural significance while respecting the dignity of the deceased.


Despite the controversies, Évora’s Bone Chapel continues to attract visitors from around the world. For many, it remains an intriguing and thought-provoking site, offering a unique perspective on death and mortality. Whether viewed as a powerful symbol or a controversial display, the Bone Chapel continues to spark discussion and reflection on the ethical implications of displaying human remains for educational and artistic purposes.


Creepy Legends and Stories Associated with the Bone Chapel

Évora’s Bone Chapel not only evokes a chilling ambiance but also has a rich tapestry of creepy legends and stories surrounding its existence. These tales, passed down through generations, add a layer of mystery and intrigue to an already fascinating attraction.


One popular legend tells the story of a young woman who visited the Bone Chapel and became enamored with a particular skull. Intrigued by its appearance, she decided to take it home as a souvenir. It is said that from the moment she brought the skull into her home, strange occurrences started happening. She would hear bone-chilling whispers and inexplicable footsteps echoing in the night. Overwhelmed with fear, she returned the skull to the chapel, after which the paranormal disturbances ceased.


Another eerie tale revolves around the belief that the bone decorations have a protective effect on the chapel. According to local lore, whenever someone attempts to remove a bone or skull from the chapel, they are said to succumb to a curse. Various misfortunes befall them, ranging from unexplained accidents and illnesses to financial ruin. This legend serves as a cautionary tale to respect the sanctity of the Bone Chapel and its macabre decorations.


There is also a spine-chilling story of ghostly encounters within the chapel. Visitors claim to have seen ghostly apparitions moving silently among the bones, their ethereal presence sending shivers down their spines. Sometimes, the whispers of unseen voices fill the air, adding to the haunting atmosphere. These ghostly encounters have left many visitors with a sense of awe and a feeling of being connected to a world beyond our own.


Furthermore, it is said that the Bone Chapel holds a secret chamber concealed within its walls. According to the legend, this hidden chamber is said to contain a collection of extremely rare and mysterious bones. Some believe that these bones possess supernatural powers or have connections to ancient rituals. While the existence of the hidden chamber remains speculative, the idea adds an element of mystery to the already intriguing Bone Chapel.


These creepy legends and stories associated with Évora’s Bone Chapel add an extra layer of intrigue to this already captivating site. They create an atmosphere of mystery and invite visitors to imagine the hidden secrets that may lie within the chapel’s bone-covered walls.


Haunting Experiences of Visitors

Évora’s Bone Chapel has left a lasting impression on countless visitors, many of whom have reported eerie and haunting experiences within the chapel’s walls. These encounters range from the unexplainable to the downright chilling, adding to the allure and intrigue surrounding this macabre attraction.


One recurring experience reported by visitors is an overwhelming feeling of being watched. As they walk through the chapel, they claim to feel the presence of unseen eyes following their every move. Some have even reported seeing shadowy figures darting between the bone-filled alcoves or hearing whispers echoing through the chamber.


Many visitors have been startled by sudden drops in temperature within the chapel. Despite the usually cool atmosphere, these drops in temperature have been described as bone-chilling cold, leaving visitors with an undeniable sense of unease. Some have even reported being touched by an unseen force, sending shivers down their spines.


Another spine-tingling experience reported by visitors is the sound of soft, indistinguishable whispers. Whether heard as a light breeze or as faint whispers in the silence, these mysterious voices have left visitors with an unnerving feeling of being surrounded by unseen presences. It is as if the souls of the departed are trying to communicate from beyond the grave.


Some visitors have captured inexplicable phenomena in their photographs. These images reveal strange orbs of light or ghostly apparitions lingering amidst the skeletal decorations. While skeptics may dismiss these as tricks of the light, those who have witnessed such phenomena firsthand cannot deny the eerie nature of these encounters.


There are also reports of electronic devices malfunctioning within the chapel. Cameras suddenly refusing to work or batteries draining inexplicably – these occurrences add to the sense of the supernatural and the idea that the Bone Chapel is a place where the veil between the living and the dead is thin.


It is important to note that not all visitors experience haunting encounters at the Bone Chapel. Some may perceive the atmosphere as simply eerie or unsettling, while others may feel a sense of reverence and contemplation. Nonetheless, the haunting experiences reported by a significant number of visitors contribute to the atmospheric mystique surrounding Évora’s Bone Chapel.


Whether these experiences can be attributed to overactive imaginations, psychological factors, or truly paranormal phenomena is open to interpretation. However, they undeniably add an extra layer of intrigue to the already haunted reputation of this captivating attraction.



Évora’s Bone Chapel is a captivating and eerie attraction that offers visitors a unique glimpse into the macabre world of human mortality. From its chilling ambiance to the meticulously arranged bones and skulls, every aspect of the chapel invites contemplation and introspection on the fleeting nature of life.


The history of the Bone Chapel speaks to the desire of the monks to create a space where they could reflect on their own mortality. The collection of bones and skulls serves as a symbolic representation of unity in death and a reminder of our shared destiny.


While the Bone Chapel is not without controversy, with ethical concerns and debates surrounding its display and preservation, it continues to captivate visitors from around the world. Its haunting ambiance and curated collection of skeletal remains evoke a sense of awe, fascination, and even trepidation.


The legends and stories associated with the Bone Chapel add an extra layer of mystery and intrigue. From ghostly encounters to whispered voices, these tales invite visitors to contemplate the unknown and consider the existence of a world beyond our own.


For those who have ventured into the Bone Chapel, it is an experience that lingers long after leaving its bone-covered walls. Haunting encounters, drops in temperature, and unexplained phenomena have left many with a lasting impression, cementing Évora’s Bone Chapel as a place that leaves a mark on the souls of those who dare to enter.


In the end, whether one views the Bone Chapel as an artistic masterpiece, a spiritual place of reflection, or a chilling reminder of mortality, there is no denying its unique allure. It is a testament to the fragility of life, the human fascination with death, and the enduring power of macabre beauty.


If you are brave enough to explore the bone-chilling world of Évora’s Bone Chapel, prepare to be fascinated, unsettled, and forever changed by the haunting beauty that awaits within its walls.