Viator

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San Bernardino alle Ossa

This peculiar Milan church has a fascinating history, beginning with the fact that it is decorated by 3,000 skulls, tibias, femurs, and other human bones. The bones are arranged in organized designs and are integrated in all the chapel walls and doors. The name of the church itself “alle Ossa” translates to “with bones,” which were supposedly imported from various cemeteries.

The church’s origins date back to the 12th century when a hospital and cemetery were built in front of its basilica. Though there was once a separate room built to house bones, the bones began to become part of the church itself. Though it looks ordinary from the exterior, it is one of the most unique chapels in the world. There are also beautiful 16th-century paintings, including the ceiling fresco Triumph of Souls and Flying Angels, and Baroque-style decorations lining the eerie walls.