Rome: Capuchin Crypt offers free visits, anatomy lesson
No bones about it, Rome’s Capuchin Crypt is an incredible (and intense) way to spend an hour. Located underneath the Church of Santa Maria della Immacolata Concezione on Via Veneto, this burial chamber is unique in its decorative technique—rooms are adorned extensively with human bones.
More than 4,000 monks are buried within the crypt’s six rooms, all of whom died between 1528 and 1870. The crypt got started back in 1631, when the Capuchin monks moved into their new friary upstairs and brought with them the bones of their brethren long gone. They arranged these bones in their new crypt, first lining them up against the walls, but eventually getting much more elaborate.
Over the next 240 years, until 1870, the friars would become experts at, shall we say, “interior design.” Bones, such as skulls, leg bones, pelvises and such, were separated and employed to make elaborate columns, arches, and floral designs with great flourishes. If you squint your eyes, you might be able to forget that you’re looking at the deceased.
Rooms include the “Crypt of the Skulls,” “Crypt of the Pelvises,” “Crypt of the Leg Bones and Thigh Bones,” and more.
Visiting the Capuchin Crypt
Church of Santa Maria della Immacolata Concezione
Via Vittorio Veneto, 27. Metro: Barberini
Hours: 9-12 PM and 3-6 PM daily. Closed Thursdays.
Although the crypt is free to visit, a donation is suggested. More information about the church and the crypt is available on the church’s website.
Also see: our list of recommended budget hotels in Rome.