The Ossuary at San Pietro in Solferino, Italy

The altar of the church

After the Battle of Solferino on June 24, 1859—a decisive battle of the Second War of Italian Unification that led to the founding of the Red Cross— both the French army under Napoleon III and the Austrian army under Franz Joseph withdrew. They left the battlefield, strewn with the bodies of tens of thousands of fallen soldiers, to the locals to clean up.

The bones of around 7,000 dead soldiers were placed in the Church of San Pietro, where they remain today. The vast collection of bones are neatly stored according type. Thousands of skulls line the walls behind the altar, stacked on row upon row of shelving.

It may sound very gruesome, but the ossuary is a quiet and respectful place to reflect on the aftermath of war, and pay respects to the fallen soldiers.


via Atlas Obscura - Latest Articles and Places
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