At this Polish Chapel, the Walls are Made of Skulls

Your Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders
May 29 2014 11:26 AM

At this Polish Chapel, the Walls are Made of Skulls

Atlas Obscura on Slate is a blog about the world's hidden wonders. Like us on Facebook, Tumblr, or follow us on Twitter @atlasobscura.

Watched a lot of distracting stuff on YouTube lately? Been walking around unencumbered by the debilitating reality of your own mortality? This'll fix that.

Kapilica Czaszk, or the Chapel of Skulls in Kudowa-Zdrój, Poland, is a beautifully macabre collection of cranial remains. The walls of this tiny church, built in 1776, are lined with the skulls and bones of 3,000 people. In the basement are the mixed-up skeletons of 21,000 more. All died in the 17th and 18th centuries, from causes as varied as the Thirty Years' War, plague, and syphilis.

Advertisement

Czech priest Vaclav Tomasek and grave digger J. Langer spent 18 years from 1776 collecting, cleaning, and assembling the human remains. After Tomasek himself died in 1804, his skull was placed on an altar in the center of the chapel.

10400394955_827f480dc1_b
Venite ad Judicium: come to judgment.

Photo:Mariusz Cieszewski/Creative Commons

Cranial wonders around the world:


View Kaplica czaszek in a larger map

TODAY IN SLATE

Frame Game

Hard Knocks

I was hit by a teacher in an East Texas public school. It taught me nothing.

Chief Justice John Roberts Says $1,000 Can’t Buy Influence in Congress. Looks Like He’s Wrong.

After This Merger, One Company Could Control One-Third of the Planet's Beer Sales

Hidden Messages in Corporate Logos

If You’re Outraged by the NFL, Follow This Satirical Blowhard on Twitter

Sports Nut

Giving Up on Goodell

How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.

How Can We Investigate Potential Dangers of Fracking Without Being Alarmist?

My Year as an Abortion Doula       

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 15 2014 8:56 PM The Benghazi Whistleblower Who Might Have Revealed a Massive Scandal on his Poetry Blog
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 15 2014 7:27 PM Could IUDs Be the Next Great Weapon in the Battle Against Poverty?
  Life
Dear Prudence
Sept. 16 2014 6:00 AM Can of Worms Prudie offers advice to a letter writer who wants to blackmail a famous ex with tapes of his fetish.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 15 2014 11:38 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 4  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Listen."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 15 2014 8:58 PM Lorde Does an Excellent Cover of Kanye West’s “Flashing Lights”
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 16 2014 7:36 AM The Inspiration Drought Why our science fiction needs new dreams.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 16 2014 7:30 AM A Galaxy of Tatooines
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.