The Bone Chapel


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Europe » Austria » Upper Austria » Hallstatt
April 27th 2008
Published: July 4th 2008
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We left Bavaria today for the last leg of our trip... a tiny town in Austria called Hallstatt. A lake on one side and a mountain on the other, the town is so small, they say you can walk from one end to the other in about 10 minutes. Mom and I tested this theory when she decided that we needed to go back to the parking lot to retrieve something from the car. Angie said she would sit down and have a beer while waiting for us, and we set off in search of the car. She should have known better than to let the two of us go off by ourselves, as neither of us have any navigational skills. The town is built on the side of the mountain, so there's one main road, and then all the houses (and the various parking lots) are accessed by stairways up the side of the mountain. The trick is finding the right one.

Eventually, I saw something I recognized... some purple flowers growing on the stone wall. I remembered coming down these stairs. I left mom at the bottom, and hiked up... and up... and up... only to find some houses. I came back down and collected Mom, and we headed off again... eventually making it all the way to the very end of town, with no hope of seeing the car. We turned back and finally hit the purple flowers again, and I decided I was going to go up again and follow the staircase alllllll the way up in hopes of finding something else that looked familiar. At the top of the staircase, I found the church, and from there was able to make it back to the car. When we finally found Angie again, it was over an hour later, and she was cursing me because she thought we were wasting time taking pictures.

Hallstatt is very relaxing... not a whole lot to do there. We sat down by the water, ate a picnic lunch, and were introduced to some of the local wildlife. Then we rented a boat and took a tour on the lake... it was a beautiful day and great views of the town from out there.

One of the most interesting sights of the whole trip was Hallstatt's bone chapel. The town is very, very small, so the cemetery is very small. Before the Catholic church allowed cremations, bodies were only allowed 10 years in the cemetery before they were dug up and replaced with someone else. The bones were then placed in a chapel, or ossuary. Each skull is lovingly decorated with flowers, the name, dates and sometimes their profession.

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