Gather round if you’d like. I’ll tell you a little tale.
Nestled deep in the alps, next to a shining lake, a picturesque town has existed since prehistoric times. Its name—Hallstatt.
Because of the salt mines found in this region of Austria, Hallstatt‘s history dates all the way back to the Bronze Age.
If you take a funicular up one of the alps, you can suit up and enter the world’s oldest salt mine. Take a train deeper inside the mountain, slide down an enormous wooden slide, and then set sail across a subterranean lake that’s still as glass.
Back in the village...
In the center of town, overlooking the Hallstatter See, sits the church and the prettiest little graveyard you’ve ever seen.
Yes, I said graveyard.
“My goodness, I think anyone could rest in peace here,” I said to my husband.
Off to the side is a tiny chapel dating back to the twelfth century—St. Michael’s.
When you enter, there are over 700 skulls on display inside.
You see, there is not enough room for all the townsfolk to be buried in the church graveyard.
So, for centuries, this is how they’ve solved the problem:
After twenty years, they dig the bodies up. The bones are all that remain so those are washed and stacked neatly beneath the tables.
Then, the families lovingly paint and decorate the skulls before adding them to the bone house.
The last skull added was from a woman who died in the 1980’s.
If you look closely at the picture I posted, the first row, third skull in...the gold tooth still remains. Below the shelf of skulls, you can see all the stacked femur bones.
To this day, you can still have your bones added to the “beinhaus”, but it has to be requested in your will.
And there you have it. Your interesting fact of the day. The Hallstatt Bone House.