The Capuchin Crypt ★
The Cimitero Monumentale dei Frati Cappuccini—better known simply as the Capuchin Crypt—is one of the eeriest sites in Rome: a series of chapels mosaicked with the bones of long-dead monks
Via Veneto 27
tel. +39-06-8880-3695 or +39-06-488-3138
• Skip the Line Crypts and Catacombs - The Underside of Rome
ReidsItaly.com Rome Map
» View ENLARGED MAP with all listings
The bone mosaics of Rome's Capuchin CryptDepending how you look at it, the cappuccini are monks with a death wish—or a healthy attitude toward their own mortality.
They're a weird lot, very polite but with a penchant for making mosaics out of the bones of their deceased brethren.
That's what happened in the crypt of this church—the entrance is halfway up the staircase to the front doors of the (otherwise uninteresting) Santa Maria Immacolata Concezione—where five chambers were filled between 1528 and 1870 with mosaics made from over 4,000 dearly departed cappuccini (first dried out by temporary burial in the floors filled with dirt from Jerusalem).
Which came first, cappuccino or the Cappuccini?
The popular coffee drink made with espresso, steamed milk, and a dollop of foam was named after the monastic order of Capuchins since the coffee's dun color matched that of the monk's robes. Given that, the Cappuccini's Rome church couldn't be in a better location: on the Via Veneto, famously lined with cafes eager to serve you their namesake drink.
These fantastic displays form morbid patterns and baroque decorative details, from rings of knucklebones and garlands of pelvises to walls made from stacked skulls and scapulae used to create butterflies or hourglasses in an all-too fitting memento mori motif.
A few bodies lean against the walls in varying states of advanced desiccated decay, and the full skeletons of two Barberini princelings adorn the last chamber, near a placard that drives home the ashes-to-ashes point, in several languages, "What you are, we used to be. What we are, you will become."
- Planning your day: You can see it in 10 minutes, but most people take 20 minutes or so. The details are as fascinating as they are gruesome.
- Book a tour: If you prefer a private guided tour that visit to the Capuchin Crypt, book one via our partner site:
Discover imperial and early Christian Rome by peeling back layers and millenniums of history as you descend into the Eternal city's underground burial chambers, its long winding catacombs and its crypts: Skip the line private exclusive viewing of the Capuchin Crypt; Entrance tickets to the San Domitilla Catacombs and to the church and undergrounds of San Clemente...
This article was written by Reid Bramblett and was last updated in April 2013. All information was accurate at the time.
about | contact | faq
» THE REIDSITALY.COM DIFFERENCE «
Copyright © 2008–2013 by Reid Bramblett. Author: Reid Bramblett