Jan. 15, 2019: Igreja do Carmo, Faro, Portugal

 

The Church of Carmo lies just north of Faro's town centre. It is known for its opulent decorations, but probably even more so for its skull chapel – which is situated just behind the main church building and is pictured above. This ossuary, to give the chapel its proper name, was constructed from the skulls and bones of over 1000 Carmelite monks whose remains were exhumed to make room for further graves in the cemetery.

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The chapel dates from the early 19th century. Above the entrance is an inscription in Portuguese, which roughly translates as “Stop here and consider that you will also reach this state”. The macabre contents of the chapel certainly channel your thoughts in that direction. The next photo shows the ceiling.

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 Just opposite the entrance is a small shrine which is also partially constructed from bones, although – presumably because it is exposed to the elements – a number of pieces have fallen off.

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 The church itself is shown below.

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The interior is a riot of gilded wood carvings.

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The skull chapel is accessible only through the church, which means that it can only be visited when there is no service. It is closed during lunch hours and on Saturday afternoons, as well as all day Sunday. There is an admission charge of €2.00.

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