Brno Ossuary: the Second Largest Underground Ossuary in Europe

The city of Brno is the second largest city in the Czech Republic and it is the largest Moravian city. The Ossuary under St. James Church in Brno is the second largest underground ossuary in Europe, after the Catacombs of Paris. 

For those who would like to visit the city of Brno have the opportunity to visit one of the biggest ossuaries in Europe, the tragic and elegant collection of human bones under the Church of St. James in the historic centre of the city. The Ossuary has been open to the public since 2012.

Photo credit: TIC Brno

Soon after the establishment of the churchyard, it became full to capacity, as the city walls prevented its extension. This situation required the regular removal of remains from their graves every 10-12 years to make space for new corpses. The older remains were thus moved to special underground areas known as ossuaries.

Photo credit: Pixabay

The ossuary in Brno, estimated to contain the bones of over 50,000 people, was discovered during an underground survey of Brno in 2001. The bones date back to the 13th century when a cemetery was located adjacent to the church. Anthropological analyses prove that the skeletal remains belong to the victims of medieval plague and cholera epidemics, the Swedish Siege, and the Thirty Years’ War, among others. It is a matter of debate which of those was the biggest catastrophe for Brno. The Thirty Years’ War was responsible for the loss of millions of lives in 17th century Europe, and the epidemics recurred frequently, leaving countless victims behind.

Photo credit: TIC Brno

In 1784, Joseph II closed the churchyards for reasons of hygiene. On his orders, the remains from the graves were moved into a crypt, and the churchyard wall was torn down. As part of this process, the surroundings of the churchyard were covered with headstones. The names and stories of the deceased remain unknown until today. The character and history of the place make many curious about its legends and supernatural phenomena.

Today, the Ossuary is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Brno and a place of reverence. The attraction is in high demand, with visitors from all over the world.

Cover photo: Pixabay



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