Contains thousands of skulls and bones from the 12th to the 17th century

The largest ossuary in Spain: visiting the funeral chamber of the Church of Saint Mary of Wamba

Spain is a country with a very long history and is full of very old architectural jewels, and some of them contain surprising things.

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In the heart of Castile and León, specifically in the province of Valladolid, there is a small town called Wamba, which is the only municipality in Spain whose name begins with a double V. Today it has about 300 inhabitants, but its history dates back to a very remote past. In fact, its place name is due to the fact that the noble Visigoth Wamba (630-688) was elected King in that town in the year 672. His predecessor, King Recesvinto, was also buried right there.

Another of the reasons why this town is famous is for its Romanesque church. It is believed that it was built in the 10th century, next to a monastery that has now disappeared. Although today it is a very small town, Wamba was the seat of its own bishopric in the High Middle Ages. As early as the 12th century, the Infanta Sancha Raimúndez donated the Church to the Knights Hospitallers of the Order of Saint John (today known as the Order of Malta), which is why you can see the cross of eight points characteristic of that order in the temple. Following the donation, the Order of Saint John built a pilgrim hospital in Wamba.

The fact that Wamba is famous for today is the huge ossuary, the largest in Spain, in the Church of Saint Mary. This ossuary is located on the north side of the Church, which It overlooked the disappeared cloister of the monastery. It is about 6 meters long and 4 meters wide, and contains thousands of human skulls and bones. Examinations of the remains have shown that they belong to men, women and children whose remains were deposited there from the 12th to the 17th century. On a wall of the ossuary there is an inscription that encourages the visitor to reflect on death: "As you see yourself, I saw myself. As you see me, you will see yourself. Everything ends here. Think about it and you will not sin."

The always interesting YouTube channel of Aventuras Entresierras (to which I insist that you subscribe, because it always publishes content that is worth seeing) has published today a video in which he makes an interesting visit to that funeral chamber (the video is in Spanish, you can activate the automatic subtitles in English in the bottom bar of the player):

Aventuras Entresierras has been kind enough to send me these photos of the visit, in which we can see in more detail the bones deposited in the Church of Santa María de Wamba. They say that Galicians have a taste for macabre themes, but with this church, the Castilians beat us by a landslide, eh?


Main photo: Aventuras Entresierras.

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