A chapel made from some truly unusual materials, San Bernardino alle Ossa is decorated by more than 3,000 human bones, arranged in Rococò-style patterns on the walls, cornice, pillars, and doors. Also of note are a series of 16th-century paintings, a ceiling fresco, and baroque-style decorations lining the walls.The Basics
Seek out this chapel to experience a place of worship decorated with human bones, either independently or on a city tour. San Bernardino alle Ossa is often included on tours along with landmarks such as the Duomo and Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, home to The Last Supper
. Join a walking, bike, or bicycle-powered rickshaw tour as a convenient way to see Milan's attractions, including the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Sforza Castle, and La Scala opera house.
Things to Know Before You Go
How to Get There
- Those who love offbeat attractions find a visit to this remarkable ossuary fascinating.
- As San Bernardino alle Ossa is a place of worship, wear attire covering shoulders and knees.
- The church is accessible to wheelchairs.
- Photographs can be taken inside the ossuary, though with discretion and respect for the sanctity of the site.
- This attraction may not be suitable for young children or the squeamish.
San Bernardino is located a short walk from the Duomo between Via Verziere and Piazza Santo Stefano in central Milan. Capital city of Lombardy, Milan is well-connected by train to Florence, Rome, and Venice for an easy day trip.When to Get There
The church is open daily except Sundays, though it closes briefly at midday. The ossuary is one of the quieter, off-the-beaten-path attractions in Milan, so visit during the peak hours of the day when the city’s more famous sites may be crowded with tourists.
The Odd History of Milan’s “Bone Chapel”
The origins of San Bernardino alle Ossa date to the 12th century, when the adjacent hospital and cemetery ran out of space to bury the dead. Bones were stored in a room off the church's main nave, and over time they were integrated into the decor. Today, this chapel contains more than 3,000 skulls, tibias, femurs, and other human bones.