Postcard of the Week: Faro, Portugal

Capela de Ossos (Chapel of Bones), Igreja do Carmo (Carmo church), Faro, Portugal, lined with the bones and skulls of Carmelite monks.

Enroute from Seville to Lisbon, we had three hours to kill in Faro, capital of Portugal’s Algarve region. It was winter, so there wasn’t much open, and although the town is quaint enough, it is seriously in need of some TLC. The main attraction, as far as we could see, is the Capela de Ossos (Chapel of Bones) adjacent to the Carmelite church (Igreja do Carmo). When the Carmelite monks built the church in 1816, it displaced part of a cemetery where their earlier brethren lay buried. The skulls and bones were salvaged and incorporated into the walls and ceiling of the chapel as a bizarre sort of memorial. It costs €1 per person to view the chapel, which has a sign above the door that reads “Stop here and think of this fate that will befall you”. According to a note on the altar, the chapel contains 1245 skulls.

Photo & text © Christine Salins

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