04 April, 2012

Chapel of Bones - Alcantarilha

At first glance, the photo below looks like a very ornate chapel, but on closer inspection it is something very different. The Chapel of Bones (Capela dos Ossos) adjoins the church in the quaint village of Alcantarilha in the Portuguese Algarve, yes.....I did say bones! The 16th century chapel was built on the grounds of an old cemetery. The bones of those buried in the grounds were removed, and this macabre chapel was created to house the remains.

There are over 5000 bones and skulls displayed on the walls and ceilings of the church, and the most curious thing is the way they are arranged in a specific order. For example, the skulls are lined up to make a row, and the hip bones form a pattern of their own.

Aside from the chapel, the village itself is worth a visit. Although you're only a few miles from popular Algarve tourist destinations; the narrow cobbled streets and the cafes, and local restaurants make you  feel like you're taking a step back in time!

The village of Alcantarilha can be reached by travelling along the A22 in Southern Portugal. You reach the Chapel of Bones from the EN 125. It's around 15 kilometers from the town of Albufeira.


  1. I thought the chapel of bones was elsewhere! I am going to zip across and have a look!

    1. I can confirm that's where it is Carole - I think there may be more than one, but that's the one I visited - it's quite spooky!

  2. I've been to a similar one in Portugal. In Evora. Beautiful town.