The American magazine “Mental Floss,” reports about various both curious and interesting fact from all over the world; on the latest list of “top 10 buildings made of bones” they gave the first place to Skull Tower of Niš. On the list of the world’s greatest wonders made of bones are also Kutna Hora Bone Church (Czech Republic), the chapel Dos ossos (Portugal) and the church of San Francisco; still the Skull Tower was awarded first place. The magazine “Mental Floss” has eight million visits a month and distribution in 17 countries.
Why is the Scull tower so fascinating?
The Skull Tower (Serbian: Ćele-kula, Ћеле-Кула) is a tower composed largely of human skulls located in the city of Niš,Serbia. During the 1809. Battle of Čegar, fought during the First Serbian Uprising against centuries long slavery under the Ottomans, Serbian revolutionaries led by commander Stevan Sinđelić were attacked by Turkish forces on Čegar Hill, near Niš. Rather than have him and his men be caught by the Turks and executed by impalement, Sinđelić fired his pistol into a powder magazine, killing himself and all Serbian rebels and Turkish soldiers in the vicinity. Afterward, Hurshid Pasha, the Turkish Grand Vizier of Niš, ordered that a tower be made from the skulls of the killed Serbian revolutionaries. Once complete, the ten-foot high Skull Tower contained 952 Serbian skulls embedded on four sides in fourteen rows.
After the Serbian re-capture of Niš in 1878, the tower was roofed over, and in 1892 a chapel was built around it. In 1937, the chapel was renovated. A bust of Sinđelić was added the following year. In 1948, Skull Tower and the chapel enclosing it were declared Cultural Monuments of Exceptional Importance and came under the protection of the Socialist Republic of Serbia. Further renovation of the chapel occurred again in 1989. As of 2013, fifty-four skulls remain on the tower, with one, said to be that of Sinđelić, enclosed in a glass container. Considered a reminder of the price the Serbs had to pay for freedom and independence, it also represents a unique monument of this kind in the world, faithfully depicting the true nature of the Turkish crimes against the Serbian people.
In 1833, on his way back from Constantinople, French poet Alphonse de Lamartine stopped for a moment in front of Skull Tower. He was shocked at the sight of it and wrote down in his book, later published as his travel accounts Journey to the East, the famous words:
“My eyes and my heart greeted the remains of those brave men whose cut off heads made the corner stone of the independence of their homeland. May the Serbs keep this monument! It will always teach their children the value of the independence of a people, showing them the real price their fathers had to pay for it.”.
Here’s the Top ten of the buildings made of bones by Mental Floss:
10 Buildings Made With Bones Mark Mancini
It might sound grotesque, but bones have been an architectural staple for millennia. Here are some of the world’s greatest osteological marvels.
1. THE SKULL TOWER OF NIŠ
Using the skulls of your enemies to build a tower sends one powerful message—even if the structure winds up measuring a scant 15 feet in height. In 1809, midway through the first Serbian uprising against the Ottoman Empire, Turkish general Hurshid Pasha gathered 952 rebel skulls for this grisly project near the city of Niš. All but 58 were later removed and given dignified funerals, but thanks to the Serbian government’s preservation efforts, you can still see the building today.
2. THE CZERMNA SKULL CHAPEL
This unique temple is adorned with some 3000 skulls and countless shin bones. Vaclav Tomaszek, a priest residing in the small Polish villiage, collected and assembled the necessary skeletal remains from 1776 to 1804. Where did he find so many bodies? A combination of recent disease victims and mass graves hastily left behind by the Thirty Years’ War gave him more than enough.
3. THE SELDEC OSSUARY
Also known as “the Kutna Hora bone church,” this Czech building looks like an unassuming monastery on the outside. But venture indoors and you’ll see a bony chandelier, a bony candelabrum, and strings of assorted bones dangling from the ceiling.
4. THE CAPELA DOS OSSOS
Evora, Portugal is home to yet another worship center built with human remains. Local history maintains that, during the 16th century, a few nearby cemeteries were destroyed, unearthing some 5000 corpses. The cathedral’s resident monks began putting them on display and utilizing them in the structure’s very framework, where they came to serve as a glaring reminder of death’s inevitability. Above the chapel’s doors is this haunting message: “We bones that are here, for your bones we wait.”
5. THE EGGENBURG CHARNEL
The remains of 5800 Austrians were utilized in this marvel of ghoulish beauty, which was largely constructed in 1405.
6. DINOSAUR BONE CABIN
Courtesy of Yelp user Jessica H
It isn’t just the bones of Homo sapiens that have been converted into building materials. Wyomingite and gas station owner Thomas Boylan finished assembling this piece ofprehistoric real estate in 1933 (luckily, dinosaur fossils are quite abundant in the cowboy state).
7. OUR LADY OF THE CONCEPTION OF THE CAPUCHINS
Beneath this Roman church lie the meticulously-arranged bones of some 4000 friars laid out to form a myriad of gorgeous designs (including stars and flowers). A few have even been posed like ghostly mannequins under drooping robes.
8. CATTLE BONE HOUSE
Dan Phillips of Texas has been building houses with recycled materials for over 15 years, and cites cattle bones as one of his favorite materials. One particular home he oversaw in the eastern part of the state used bovine skeletons to forge countertops, door handles, floor tiles, and patio furniture.
9. MAMMOTH BONE HUTS
Some of the oldest man-made dwellings in recorded history were primitive huts made with these ice age giants’ remains. The best-known examples hail from an archaeological site near the Ukrainian village of Mezhyrich.
10. CHURCH OF SAN FRANCISCO
The cellar of this Peruvian church features femurs, skulls, and other bones gingerly laid out in ornate circular patterns, which attract tourists to this day.
BONUS: PARIS CATACOMBS
Twelve million people currently inhabit France’s largest city. The bones of an additional 6 million have been laid to rest in the labyrinthine caves and tunnels which lie under it. Originally intended to tackle the area’s overflowing cemeteries, many of the skulls and other bones were later re-arranged to produce some truly eye-catching walls in this fascinating subterranean world.