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

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4.4/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Tin Marković (7 months ago)
Somewhat expensive, but quite a poignant place. Take your time to walk through and let your thoughts flow. It's not a large exhibit, so don't go looking if you want to spend several hours, or if you aren't ready to enjoy the atmosphere - not going to be worth it for you.
Fabio Antognozzi (8 months ago)
Personal favorite place in Brno and one of the most important spot for dark tourism in Europe, in terms of history and care of the place.
MAHESHWARI AMRAT LAL (8 months ago)
Europe is famous for preserving its history and this is the big collection of human bones here died in cholera
Anita Groenendijk (10 months ago)
Very nice, worth the visit. somehow all the skulls were sort of soothing for me. I felt they were handled respectfully. Also interesting how much they could differ. I won't add pictures, everything is already seen in those of others. If you visit Brno, put this on your itinerary!
Tomek Kmita (15 months ago)
It makes a lasting impression. An experience that takes you out of your comfort zone for w while. Worth visiting, something that makes you wonder about more than just another meal or destination along your holiday trip.
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