Hermitage of the Knights Templar - San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, Spain
The history of the hermitage (chapel) of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe dates back over 1,200 years. It was actually built back in the 9th century by the Knights Templar and dedicated to John the Baptist. The hermitage is on top of the island of Gaztelugatxe, on the coast of Biscay in Spain. It is connected to the mainland by a man-made bridge.
The hermitage is accessed by a narrow path, crossing a solid stone bridge, and going up 231 steps. According to legend, after the slightly strenuous climb to the top of the crag, one should ring the bell three times and make a wish (the cord for the bell can be seen hanging down in front of the chapel door in picture 6).
The small church was donated, by don Iñigo López, Lord of Biscay, to the monastery of San Juan de la Peña in Huesca in the year 1053. Medieval burials from the 9th and 12th centuries have been found on the esplanade and in the hermitage.
The strategic location of the site has given it an important role in historic episodes. It was one of the places where the Lord of Biscay, Juan Núñez de Lara, confronted Alfonso XI, King of Castile, in 1334.
In 1593 it was attacked and sacked by Francis Drake. In 1594 it was attacked by the Huguenots of La Rochelle, who sacked it and killed the caretaker. In the 18th century it was assaulted by English troops and during the Spanish Civil War, the naval Battle of Matxitxako took place nearby. Although the hermitage has suffered from several fires and many battles over the last 1,200 years, it still stands as beautiful as ever.
The Chapel Made of Skulls and Bones
The Sedlec Ossuary is a small Roman Catholic chapel, located beneath the Cemetery Church of All Saints in Sedlec, a suburb of Kutna Hora in the Czech Republic. The ossuary is estimated to contain the skeletons of between 40,000 and 70,000 people, whose bones have in many cases been artistically arranged to form decorations and furnishings for the chapel. The ossuary is among the most visited tourist attractions of the Czech Republic, attracting over 200,000 visitors yearly.
In 1870 František Rint, a woodcarver, was employed by the Schwarzenberg family to put the bone heaps into order. The macabre result of his effort speaks for itself. Four enormous bell-shaped mounds occupy the corners of the chapel. An enormous chandelier of bones, which contains at least one of every bone in the human body, hangs from the center of the nave with garlands of skulls draping the vault.