Sunday, 31 May 2009

Havana Bone Yard - some grisly souvenirs!

In Colon Cemetery in Havana, Cuba is the site of the celebrated 'boneyard'. A single grave in the cemetery cost $10 in rent for five years. At the end of the five years, if the remains were not claimed, the bones were thrown into the boneyard [sometimes known as 'bone pile] by the cemetery authorities.

In the 1890s, American soldiers often removed skulls and bones and drove through the streets of Havana displaying them. Their commander, General Brooke ordered the practice to stop and gave instructions for the pit to be covered over. Two cards, here, show American soldiers stood on the thirty foot deep pile holding up bones in the shape of the skull and crossbones. Photographs were taken and sold commercially as souvenir postcards to send home to their loved ones. How times have changed! Remember to click on the images to enlarge them.


  1. Hard to believe, isn't it? Those were all people once. Wow, what an amazing set of postcards.

  2. Now that really is grisly... an open air catacomb scene. Have you been in the Paris Catacombs ? There are stacks of bones in there of similar proportions. I just finished reading a good book about the Paris Catacombs, the history is fascinating... old stone quarries transformed into mass tombs to empty out the overflowing Parisian cemeteries...

    Had never heard of this Cuban affair, but that is why we read blogs ! To learn strange and new stories !

    Hmmm, and speaking of "cat"-acombs, maybe that's what has Minnie looking so "cat"-atonic in the below photo... maybe she needs a good stiff gin and tonic to perk her up ?

  3. Nothing has changed, eh, America? Creating new bone yards around the world, such as bulldozing both dead and alive Iraqis into trenches.