The Charnel House at Redipuglia/Redipulja is the biggest and the most magnificent monument to the fallen in World War I in Italy. It was built on the slope of Monte Sei Busi after the plans by architect Giovanni Greppi and sculptor Giannino Castiglione. The Charnel House, opened on 18 September 1938, is also known as the monument to the hundred thousand because it holds mortal remains of 100,187 soldiers who fell in this area and were originally buried on the nearby hill of Sant’Elia. The monument had a double purpose: to honour the fallen who sacrificed their lives and to provide a decent internment for all those for whom there was no more place on the hill of Sant’Elia. The entire structure consists of three levels and symbolizes an army which descends from the sky and, with its commander in front, walks all the way along the so-called Path of Heroes (Via degli Eroi). On the top of the stairs stand three crosses which represent the crucifixion of Jesus on Golgotha. The grand design of the monument was mainly the result of the then fascist authorities’ policy to honour the victims of World War I as martyrs, and therefore monumental structures were set up – such as also the charnel houses at Kobarid and at Oslavia/Oslavje – as venues for nationally coloured memorial ceremonies.
At the foot of the Charnel House at Redipuglia/Redipulja, a museum is situated, dedicated to World War I events (Museo della Grande Guerra Casa III Armata). It is also an excellent point of departure for a visit to the Charnel House which symbolically begins when we step across the chain of the Triglav torpedo boat, the Austro-Hungarian warship which was seized by the Italians after the end of the war and renamed Grado. The walk continues along the so-called Via degli Eroi, a stone-paved road with 38 boards by its sides, on which the names of places on the Kras are inscribed where fights took place during World War I. We soon reach magnificent tombs in which Italian generals rest. Most outstanding among them, also by its size, is the tomb of the supreme commander of the Third Army, Emanuele Filiberto Duca d’Aosta. It is made of a single red marble block that weighs 75 tons. Next to it are the granite tombs of five generals: Antonio Chinotto, Tommaso Monti, Giovanni Prelli, Giuseppe Paolini and Fulvio Riccieri. Behind the tombs, 22 steps rise which hold mortal remains of 39,857 identified soldiers, arranged in alphabetical order. Above each tomb cell there is the inscription reading PRESENTE (HERE!). These huge steps can be accessed by side steps that lead to the top. It is interesting that in a tomb cell in the centre of the first step the only female is buried: the nurse Marhgerita Kaiser Parodi Orlando; and in the last, i.e. the twenty-second step are held mortal remains of 72 seamen and 56 members of the Financial Guard. On the top of the steps are two bigger tombs covered with copper plates. Over 60,000 unknown soldiers are buried in them. A chapel was also built, in which two pieces of master sculptor Castiglioni are on display: Descent from Cross and Stations of the Cross. In the rear part of the twenty-second or the last step are two museum rooms where the photos of the first Charnel House at Redipuglia/Redipulja are kept as well as documents and war material. On Hill 86, on the top of the hill above the monumental charnel house, there is an observation post and also a relief-map on which the front line is drawn as it was on 24 October 1917, the first day of the Twelfth Isonzo Battle.