The Bone House Beinhaus, which is one of the places to visit in Hallstatt and is an extraordinary trip, keeps about 1200 skulls inside. Although it looks like a normal church from the outside, the inside of the church is extraordinary. Tourists love this far from ordinary situation and visit this place, just like us.
In Europe, the problem of overcrowding of grave spaces due to the increase in the human population led to the use of such a method called ossuary. Over the centuries, bones were removed from the grave sites filled with people buried in the surrounding cemeteries, and when the time came, they were cleaned and painted. We have seen the bone church before in Prague, where there was a much more decorative church made almost entirely of bones.
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The painting process began in the early 18th century in order not to lose their identity. Then they were placed in this church called Hallstatt Chamel House. Even though the cemetery in Hallstatt was sufficient in the past, one day the grave space became insufficient. It could not be expanded due to the settlement of the landscape and such a solution was found. The original purpose was for storage, of course, but over time it turned into a touristic activity.
The Hallstat Bone House is a very small place, there is not even room to take a few steps. When you enter, you just walk around the 2 square meters and take photos. Imagine seeing the skull of your great-grandmother or grandfather without flesh. In the church, the skulls are placed in decorative order. There are 1,200 skulls inside and about 600 of them have been painted, a tradition that developed later. Previously, each one had to wait for several weeks for its color to lighten in the sun and moonlight.
On the skulls of the bones are the names of the deceased, along with the dates of birth and death. In addition, there are some symbols on the skulls. The laurel leaf symbolizes victory, the ivy symbolizes life, the rose symbolizes love, and the oak tree symbolizes fame. After the Catholic Church liberalized cremation in the 1970s, the display of skulls gradually came to an end. In 1995, the skull of a woman who died in 1983 was placed in the bone house at her request, and it was the last skull to be placed there. The gold-toothed skull with 1983 written on it belonged to this woman. Usually people want to be cremated, but according to her will, the skull of a deceased person can still be placed in the ossuary 15 years after her death, after the skull has been cleaned and painted.
Where is Beinhaus and how to get there?
The cemetery itself is already very colorful. And then there is the view from the cemetery garden, which is simply unforgettable. Even if you are not going to enter the Beinhaus, make sure you go to the garden. Beinhaus is located a hundred meters north of the Evangelische Church, which is characteristic of Hallstatt’s photographs, and the Market Square, which is a very charming square.