Brno Ossuary

Brno, Czech Republic

Brno Ossuary is an underground ossuary. It was rediscovered in 2001 in the historical centre of the city, partially under the Church of St. James. It is estimated that the ossuary holds the remains of over 50 thousand people which makes it the second-largest ossuary in Europe, after the Catacombs of Paris. It's been opened to public since June 2012.

A three-chamber crypt was established under the paved floor of St. James’ Church for these purposes probably in the 17th century. At the beginning the crypt filled slowly, but from the mid-18th century two large symmetric walls of remains from emptied church sepulchres were gradually built there. The rapid filling of the charnel houses was partly due to frequent plague and cholera epidemics that literally decimated the population. The ongoing lack of space for bones from emptied graves required that the charnel house be extended in 1741. The best solution appeared to be the extension of the new ossuary under the cemetery and its connection to the church crypt. The new ossuary, however, was filled in six years and the town council began to discuss its further extension with a connection to the Chapel of the Dead near the church. However, the construction of the connecting corridor was prematurely terminated in the middle of its originally planned length, and thus the original plan has never been implemented.

When both the crypt and the ossuary under the cemetery were full, the entrance staircase from the main nave of the church was sealed with a Latin-inscribed stone slab. Josephine reforms in 1784 led to abolishing the church cemetery for hygiene reasons. The remains from the graves were placed in the crypt, the cemetery walls were pulled down, and the area around the church was paved with unnecessary tombstones. The ossuary, its size, and location fell into oblivion after some time.

In 2001 an archaeological and underground survey was carried out before starting the renovation of the Jakubské square, and its findings were a great surprise. Several pilot bore holes to the depth of four metres confirmed the existence of a large burial complex. The individual rooms were filled with huge volumes of human bones often up to the vault arches. The estimated number of people buried there exceeded 50 thousand. The anthropological analyses carried out so far have shown that the bones of the victims of mediaeval plague and cholera epidemics, as well as those of the Thirty Years’ War and Swedish sieges were placed in the ossuary.

The accumulated humidity and mould, if left untreated, would cause the gradual decomposition of bones and the collapse of the vault less than two metres under the busy roadway of the Jakubské square. That is why the only way to preserve this unique monument was to renovate the ossuary and open it to the public. During the refurbishment, all remains were collected, cleaned and returned to their last resting place. Together with other archaeological finds, the exhibition shows the way of burying in one of the largest city cemeteries in Brno.

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Details

Founded: 17th century
Category: Cemeteries, mausoleums and burial places in Czech Republic

Rating

4.4/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

josh gray (40 days ago)
This place is really amazing. There are 3 passageways that end with skeletons. It is very ornate in the way that they are arranged and they have guide books in several deffrent languages.
Ferial Hussein (4 months ago)
We came here with the Brno pass ( as there very few you can use if for) the small crypt if I can say is very small, it takes less than 5 minutes to see it, they give you a printed description of the room as the ones on the wall are in the local langauge. It's ok but it is not anything wow, more Instagram place. You can also pay by card the few souvenirs they have.
nehem1988 (5 months ago)
A little but interesting ossuary. When you see these bones, it's strange. Everyone will die once and you see what's happening , what you will become.
Kristýna Vacardová (8 months ago)
Definitely a must see in Brno. It consists of only a few rooms and can be visited in around 10-15 minutes, but it will linger in your mind long after that.
Nimesh Dedhia (8 months ago)
This is known as the Ossuary of St. James, is a bone church. It is one of the largest ossuary in Europe, and contains the remains of over 50,000 people. Currently the church is under renovation so we thought this ossuary is closed, but then we saw one downward stairs and then we came to know this ossuary is open for visitors. It is a very unique place for us to visit.
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