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Capela dos Ossos (Faro)

Capela dos Ossos - Faro
© Jonny Joka
Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Carmo
© Jonny Joka
Capela dos Ossos
© Jonny Joka

Chapel of the Bones

Without doubt the most macabre of Faro's many attractions is the Capela dos Ossos (Chapel of the Bones), a minuscule ossuary chapel lovingly decorated with the bones and skulls of over 1000 human skeletons. The chapel forms part of the beautiful 18th century Igreja da Nossa Senhora do Carmo (Our Lady of Mount Carmel) Church, with its whitewashed Baroque exterior and richly gilded interior. Towards the back of the church, on the right hand side, a small door leads to a walled garden and this is where the Capela dos Ossos is found.

The bones and 1,200 skulls which adorn every surface of the ossuary belong to the Carmelite monks who once served in the adjoining church, whose skeletons were exhumed from the nearby graveyard in 1816. The chapel is intended to serve as a reminder of the simple, holy lives of the monks who once lived here and the fact that life is fleeting.  An inscription over the door reads:"Para aqui a considerar que a este estado has de chegar" (Stop here and consider that you too will reach this state).  The overall effect is peaceful and humbling rather than being ghoulish.

Check opening times if you want to view the ossuary as it is usually closed to tourists at lunchtime and at weekends, or whenever Mass is being celebrated.  There is a charge of around €2 to visit the bone chapel.

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