Vac Hungary Guide - Travel East and Central Europe

Mummies of Vác

Vac Mummies Hungary

Vac Mummies Hungary

The exhibit in Vac (Vác), Hungary is the result of a mummy bonanza discovered during a routine restoration of the town’s Dominican church. In 1994 workers discovered a secret crypt that had been bricked up for over 200 years. Inside, 265 hand-painted coffins were stacked, one on top of the other, in order of size. Inside, the occupants had naturally mummified, due to perfect conditions of temperature and aridity.

It wasn’t simply their bodies that were so well-preserved. Everything from the rosaries to the handmade stockings on their feet was equally intact, offering a gold mine for ethnographers on the funerary customs and everyday life of 18th-century Hungarian villages. There was something there for doctors as well: traces of ancient tuberculosis. An Australian surgeon, Dr Mark Spigelman, has devoted the past 6 years to studying the bacteria found in one mummy in particular, and the information gleaned from this ancient DNA could give information that will help fight tuberculosis.

More mummies in Vac

More mummies in Vac

The real delight of the mummies exhibited in Vac, Hungary isn’t the shriveled bodies and stretched skin, it's the coffins themselves. A huge choice of the coffins are exhibited, many stacked on top of each other in the same formation they had been found in. Each coffin had been lovingly hand-painted with crucifixes, flowers, quotations, bible verses, angels, skull and crossbones, hour glasses, and Memento Mori inscriptions.

No coffin is a repeat of another. The variety of color, decoration, motif and even language (some in German, some Hungarian, some Latin) is simply incredible. The coffins seem to be painted with an almost joyous hand, as a celebration of the life, not a mourning of the death. One coffin, belonging to a miner, is painted with bones, skulls and a miner’s pick and shovel. Each coffin had been personalized with great thought and care.

The artifacts from the church crypt are on display at the Memento Mori Museum next to the church on the square.

Memento Mori can be read as a dark warning: Don’t forget that you will die. But in the art of these beautiful coffins, it can be read in a very different way.

Weather in Vac

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Thursday
08/16 10%
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Partly cloudy. Lows overnight in the upper 50s.
High 86° / Low 59°
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Friday
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Sunny, along with a few afternoon clouds. High 86F. Winds light and variable.
High 86° / Low 61°
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Saturday
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Generally sunny despite a few afternoon clouds. High 89F. Winds light and variable.
High 89° / Low 64°
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Sunday
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Generally sunny despite a few afternoon clouds. High 88F. Winds NNE at 5 to 10 mph.
High 88° / Low 63°
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Monday
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A few clouds from time to time. High 88F. Winds N at 5 to 10 mph.
High 88° / Low 63°

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