Travel: Poland’s Creepy Chapel of Skulls

Poland's Chapel of Skulls is a Monument to the Ever-Present Spectre of Death

*I visited Poland in 2016 and saw the Chapel of Skulls, this story is from this time.

For a completely off the beaten path look at the more macabre and dark past of Poland, then you should visit the Chapel of Skulls located just outside of the popular spa town of Kudowa Zdroj in Lower Silesia, Poland.

Chapel of Skulls in Czermna, Poland. Kaplica Czaszek w Czermnej. interior

The Chapel of Skulls: a symbol of life, death and war

The chapel was built in 1776 by the Czech local parish priest Wacław Tomaszek. It was inspired by Tomaszek’s pilgrimage to Rome where he saw a similar graveyard. Over a period of about 18 years, himself along with J. Schmidt and grave digger J. Langer salvaged and cleaned the bones 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.

Around three thousand skulls line every surface of the Baroque chapel along with another 21,000 skulls in the basement. If you visit the chapel of skulls then you can listen to a nun give a presentation about it. Popular for school trips with children and teens in Poland, the chapel allows about 30 people into the tiny space at once for the 20 minute presentation. Although the audio history of the chapel is only available in Polish, Czech and German and not in English. At the doors of the baroque chapel, a Latin inscription reads ‘Arise from the dead’.

Out of the group, I was the first person into the chapel. I found it far too confronting to see all of these dead things around me. I got creeped out immediately and left very quickly. My more practical boyfriend enjoyed the presentation and found it interesting.

Outside view of the Chapel of Skulls

Something about this place creeped me out and I am not even sure why. It was irrational, as these people were obviously long dead. As someone who doesn’t like horror movies or gore, it follows that it would be this way. But still it was an unsettling experience!

Published by Content Catnip

Content Catnip is a quirky internet wunderkammer written by an Intergalactic Space Māori named Content Catnip. Join me as I meander through the quirky and curious aspects of history, indigenous spirituality, the natural world, animals, art, storytelling, books, philosophy, travel, Māori culture and loads more.

4 thoughts on “Travel: Poland’s Creepy Chapel of Skulls

  1. I don’t like gore or horror, but bones, I’m okay with. During my brief stint as an archaeologist, burials were the most exciting. This reminds me of an underground tour we did in Austria. I was with my family (including young kids!) but didn’t really think it through – as in, the kids might be terrified by the bones and bodies on the tour. I was too excited and oblivious until I saw their faces. DOH!

    This one looks great, and creepy, so fascinating when people do these types of things – you know, collect bones and bodies for display…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You were an archeologist? Wow that is very interesting! What was the tomb in Austria about? Should I call you Tomb Raider from now on? Hehe I am such a scaredy cat that human bones like this freak me out. I am ok with animal bones just not humans as have watched too many horror movies where bones turn into zombies, I know that is stupid and irrational hahaha I’m ok with that. If you like this kind of thing, you will like this chapel in Kudowa Zdroj in Poland

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I don’t remember. The trip was ages ago and I’d have to do some digging around (ha!) But if I’m ever in Poland (never know!), I’d love to visit the little house of horrors. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

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