Skull Chapel of Czermna

Kudowa-Zdrój, Poland

The Skull Chapel (Kaplica Czaszek) or St. Bartholomew's Church, is an ossuary chapel. Built in last quarter of the 18th century on the border of the then Prussian County of Glatz, the temple serves as a mass grave with thousands of skulls and skeletal remains 'adorning' its interior walls as well as floor, ceiling and foundations. The Skull Chapel is the only such monument in Poland, and one of six in Europe.

The chapel was built in 1776 by Czech local parish priest Václav Tomášek. It is the mass grave of people who died during the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648), three Silesian Wars (1740–1763), as well as of people who died because of cholera epidemics, plague, syphilis and hunger.

Together with sacristan J. Schmidt and grave digger J. Langer, father Tomášek who was inspired by the Capuchin cemetery while on a pilgrimage to Rome, collected the casualties’ bones, cleaned and put them in the chapel within 18 years (from 1776 to 1794). Walls of this small, baroque church are filled with three thousand skulls, and there are also bones of another 21 thousand people interred in the basement. The skulls of people who built the chapel, including father Tomaszek, were placed in the center of the building and on the altar in 1804. Inside are a crucifix and two carvings of angels, one with a Latin inscription that reads 'Arise from the Dead' are among the bones.

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Founded: 1776
Category: Religious sites in Poland

Rating

4.3/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Dagmara (2 years ago)
Small bone chapel with an interesting history. Lovely guide (in Polish) also provided an English printout for my non polish speaking friend. There is a souvenir shop with items related to the chapel. Definitely worth visiting. Personally I decided to stay in a local sanatorium to make the most of my Kudowa visit.
Anton Mints (3 years ago)
If you have never seen any skulls chapels this place is worth visiting. It is small but is done with a purpose, and you see the history, and you understand the reason why it has been done. The story that will told inside about this place. It worth visiting it if you are nearby.
Aga C (3 years ago)
The visit takes about 15 minutes and it's possible to enter only with a guide (the group was about 10 people and not too many more people would enter it at the same time, as the chapel is rather small). It is open from 10 till 16, and the tours takes place every half an hour so ensure to ask by the entrance when is the next tour. There are a few thousands of very well kept bones and skulls in the chapel, and there are some more underneath it. Some children got scared and some tourists made some weird comments about the place. I admire the guide's patience. Bear in mind that no photography or filming is allowed inside.
Konstanty Keda (3 years ago)
It is quite cool to enter and see a lot of bones. But there is some negative things - you need to pay for parking/entering and toilet (if you need that) and price is quite steep for Poland. Also you will need to wait in a line to enter, as entering is only once per 15 min with a guide, who speaks only polish.
Mandy T (3 years ago)
1 star is too much.... waste of time. The room of bones is very small, you are not allowed to take pics (accept for the outside) and no english guide. If you don't have zloty with you, they will overcharge you for the parking. Better go to kutna hora, that place is amazing!
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