San Bernardino alle Ossa

San Bernardino alle Ossa is a very peculiar church in Milan due to its bizarre and sinister decoration: made up of a great number of human skulls and bones.

History

A hospital and cemetery were built in 1145 very near the Basilica of Santo Stefano Maggiore. The cemetery was quickly packed and it was necessary to build a hall to collect the bones of the deceased. In 1269 the Basilica San Bernardino alle Ossa was built adjacent to this hall.

The ossuary was considered a sinister but popular place, where the interior's walls were decorated with human bones and skulls. It is very similar to the church in Rome called Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini.

Sinister and curious at the same time

San Bernardino alle Ossa is rather curious and very different to the rest of churches in Milan. Note that some people might be sensitive to this type of decoration, while others will be fascinated to see how the skulls and bones are used to decorate the ossuary’s walls.

Schedule

Monday to Friday: from 7:30 am until 12:00 pm (noon) and from 1 pm until 4 pm
Saturday and Sunday: from 7:30 am until 12:00 pm (noon).

Transport

Metro: Duomo, lines 1 and 3.
Tram: lines 12, 23 and 27.
Buses: lines 54 and 60