Capela dos Ossos (Chapel of Bones), Evora
The Capela dos Ossos (Chapel of Bones) is a fascinating chapel with a very macabre atmosphere. Ranking as one of Evora’s most visited sites, this eerie tourist attraction is not for the faint hearted. This small, unassuming chapel is actually home to the final resting place of hundreds of bodies; all exhumed from the city’s graveyards in the 16th Century.
There are thousands of bones and skulls embedded in the walls of the chapel
What to expect from the Bone Chapel
The main entrance to the Chapel of Bones greets visitors with a foretelling Portuguese inscription:
“We, the bones that are here await yours.”
Walk inside the chapel and tourists can feel a chill down their spine when they realise that human bones are incorporated into every aspect of the chapel interior.
There are actually of 5,000 bones intricately cast into the cement from floor to ceiling. Skulls line the roof and walls, watching visitors from every aspect. The Chapel of Bones is both a spell-binding and incredibly eerie experience.
"We await your bones" - creepy
History of the Capela Dos Ossos
Despite its appearance, the Chapel of Bones was constructed out of necessity and is more than just a religious curiosity. During the 16th Century, the graveyards in Evora were overcrowded so bones were exhumed to make way for new bodies to be buried. The bones were respectfully cast into the cement and housed in this place of worship. The exhumation aligned with the common beliefs of the era and followed the Counter-Reformation ideology that the bodies would be closer to God.
The bones line every wall in the Capela dos Ossos
Is the Bone Chapel worth Visiting?
The Chapel of Bones is relatively small, so expect to spend less than 15 minutes inside. Even though it is small it is definitely worth the entrance fee, as it will be one of the strangest sights you will see in Portugal.
Where is it?
The Chapel of Bones is part of the Igreja de Sao Francisco church complex, which lies between the Jardim Publico and the Praca de Giraldo. The Igreja de Sao Francisco church is difficult to miss, as it has recently undergone a major cleaning and restoration project that has transformed it into a brilliant white building. The Chapel of Bones is located to the right of the main entrance to the church.
The Igreja de Sao Francisco church is easy to find, it's the big white church on top of the hill!
Capela Dos Ossos Tourist Information
The entrance fee for the Capela dos Ossos is €2.00/€1.50/€1.50 (Adults/Children/Seniors). There is an additional €1 fee to take pictures. The chapel is open daily from 9:00-12:50 and then from 14:30-17:45 (17:15 in winter).
Skulls look down on tourists in the Capela dos Ossos
Top tip for the Capela Dos Ossos
The Alentejo region is renowned for their long lunches and the majority of the main tourist sites in Evora, including the Chapel of Bones, shut down for 1-2 hours for lunch. For tourists visiting Evora as a day trip it is best to plan the day into two sections.