There are unique places in Kłodzko land that you just have to see. The Skull Chapel in Czermna (Kudowa-Zdrój) makes a huge impression, a bit scary but at the same time fascinating.
This is one big cemetery enclosed in four walls. The entire interior of the chapel was lined with human remains – real skulls and bones. The Skull Chapel in Kudowa-Zdrój is the only monument of its kind in Poland.
Curious to find out more about one of the most unusual places in Poland?
The principal author of the creation of the chapel was the local priest Václav Tomášek. One day, in 1776, he noticed human remains protruding from the ground on a slope near the church. Together with the beadle and the gravedigger, they began to excavate bones located under the shallow underground.
The longer they dug, the more and more they discovered. In total, the corpses of over 20,000 people were found, probably the victims of the Thirty Years’ War (1618-48), Prussian-Austrian Silesian Wars (1740-42 and 1744-45 and 1756-63) as well as epidemics that affected the area in the 17th and 18th centuries.
It took him eight years to collect bones, disinfect and impregnate, and lay debris, although historians mention that the priest devoted the last thirty years of his life to this unique place.
Where did the idea for the creation of the chapel come from? Perhaps the idea was born during a visit a catacomb in Rome. He claimed that he was horrified by the sight of dark underground corridors, open human graves full of skeletons and skulls.
The interior of the chapel, walls, and ceiling, covers about three thousand tightly arranged skulls and bones. Opposite the entrance, there is a baroque altar with a crucifix.
Two wooden sculptures of angels stand in the corner of the side walls. One has a trumpet and Latin call “Rise from the dead,” the other holds a scales and has the inscription “Go to court.”
The interior of the church does not let you forget about the inevitability of human death. The part of the skulls and tibia that served as wall and vault decor is arranged in macabre patterns and decorations.
There are many bones with various diseases and genetic deformities. A significant part of the collection that is unavailable on a daily basis is located under the chapel floor. Next to the chapel, there is a monument with a trilingual inscription: “To the victims of wars to commemorate, and to the living as a warning 1914”.
The chapel was built in the Baroque style and has become a unique work of religious culture and the only such monument in Poland. Is one of the few necropolises of this type in the world. In Europe, apart from Kutna Hora in the Czech Republic, we can also find a similar one in Evora, Portugal (Capela dos Ossos).
Like the places mentioned above, the Polish chapel is part of thanatotourism, i.e., traveling to sites related to death, and is a must-see for tourists visiting the Table Mountains.
The chapel is visited by tourists from the farthest corners of the globe; however, all need to follow the same basic principles. Let us remember that this place is where the people are buried, and they deserve respect.
Opening Hours and Admission
The chapel is open every day (except Mondays).
In May and June:
9.00 – 17.30
From July to September:
9.30 – 17.00
10.00 – 17.00
From November to April:
10.00 – 16.00
Regular ticket 8 PLN, reduced-fare 4 PLN.
Location and getting there
The Skull Chapel is located at 8 Stanisław Moniuszko street in Czermna, Kudowa Zdroj.
The journey from Wrocław to Kudowa-Zdrój will take you about two hours. It’s best to go there by car as the route is not complicated, you just have to follow the state road No. 8.
In Kudowa itself, we can easily find the Skull Chapel, and the way to the monument is well marked.