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Cemitério Ossuary, Portugal

Cemitério Ossuary is an old church and ossuary within a Portuguese cemetry. The architecture is muted Baroque and Rococo, mixed with post-Tridentine Mannerism. This was the first location we visited during our Portugal 2017 Road Trip.

The altarpiece is beautifully gilded with gold, and is made out of carved masonry. The altar table is urn-shaped, and also made of masonry. Presently, the altar is covered by a white table cloth. The walls are covered with patterned polychrome tiles, which are over 300 years old. The pulpit is attached to the wall, on the left side of the nave. This wooden box is gilded and polychrome and is cushioned.

A dusty Ossuary

There is an old wooden door, leading off from one side of the chancel area. In this side room, is an ossuary. Here, human remains are stored in small wooden boxes or caskets. These small caskets are ornately carved, many also feature wooden crosses.

A human thighbone sits on the floor, having seemingly fallen out of one of the wooden boxes.


History of Cemitério Ossuary

The built in the 16th Century, the church was constructed with stone and lime masonry walls. These are plastered and whitewashed on the exterior. There are stonework features, such as the portal and the surrounding Ionic columns, cornice and pyramidal cap. The room which is now the ossuary, may have once been used for storage or other purposes. The polychrome tiles were added sometime in the 17th Century. Further additions were added in the 18th Century, such as the gold gilded and polychrome carved altar.

Oil paintings on canvas were also added in the 18th Century. Two paintings are hung on the walls on either side of the nave. Two more painting canvas are hung on the chancel walls, on the other side of the arch.

A place to pay your respects

Cemitério Ossuary stands in a frequented and well-maintained cemetery. This location is a dark tourism site, and not an abandoned place. The church area has lit candles, as well as trinkets and flowers from recent visitors. However, the ossuary appears to be not visited regularly. In support of this, a thick layer of undisturbed dust covers the caskets.

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