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Lampa, Peru

Tomb of Enrique Torres Belón

This Peruvian bone silo lined with hanging human skeletons and hundreds of skulls is topped with a remarkable Michelangelo replica. 

Off the dusty road between Lake Titicaca and the former Incan capital of Cusco, Peru, is the unassuming town of Lampa.  Founded in the 16th century, this Spanish colonial outpost is most known for its more modern addition: a bizarre tomb attached to its historic church.

The small town has a number of unique sights, from a working chinchilla farm on its outskirts to intricate mosaics in its central plaza, but what stands out the most is its enormous colonial church, the Iglesia Santiago Apóstol. Connected to the church is Enrique Torres Belón’s freaky mausoleum, a silo of bones capped by an aluminum replica of Michelangelo’s Pietà.  

Engineer and politician Enrique Torres Belón, one of Lampa’s most famous sons, designed and built the tomb in the mid-20th century so that he could rest in peace, along with his wife, surrounded by the earthly remains of the city’s forebears. The otherworldly tribute is lined with hanging human skeletons and hundreds of skulls exhumed from the town’s cemetery and the crypts beneath the church. At the bottom is a black marble cross, whose lighting exaggerates the eerie shadows cast by the macabre wall hangings.  

Topping the dome over the carefully arranged bones is a replica of the Pietà, arguably Michelanglo’s most famous sculpture. The original Renaissance masterpiece is housed in St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, but anyone wanting to see another copy of the sculpture won’t have to travel far. The town hall contains another exact replica, in plaster. It was supposed to be destroyed after the aluminum sculpture was complete, but the town decided to keep it instead.