4,000 Skeletons at The Capuchin Crypt of Santa Maria della Concezione

a group of skulls and statues
During our trip to Italy (a few years back) we spent some of our time in Rome. There are many popular & well-known sites which are on most visitor’s lists of things to see. (Think the Colosseum, Pantheon, Forum, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, the Vatican etc…)
While we did visit all of the sites listed above and more, we also wanted to find something that felt a little more off the beaten path..
We came across the Capuchin Crypt of Santa Maria della Concezione which seemed to fit the bill perfectly!
a skeleton on the ceiling of a building
The crypt is relatively small and located up a flight of steps, just below the church. The crypt’s space is long and narrow and made up of a few sections. These areas were decorated in an interesting and shocking way.
The skeletons of around 4,000 Capuchin friars were arranged in each section into scenes or works of art. As  you walk through the crypt you will be amazed at what you are see.
While we were visiting, other tourists stopped by but the crypt never seemed to be too busy. Then again, it was a relatively tight space so I’m not sure that it would take to many people to fill up the space.
Photos are not allowed but I couldn’t leave without getting a few shots. I made sure to shut off my flash since I know this is usually the reason for not allowing photos. I’m sure that some of you may not approve of my decision to take photos when they are forbidden but this is what I chose to do. I’m not suggesting others follow my lead or not, that’s your call.
Check them out:
a wall with skulls and bones
a group of statues in a room
a skeleton statues in a room
After visiting the crypt, it reminded me of a couple of other sites that I’ve visited in Europe.
  1. The Catacombs in Paris are filled with the remains of over six million people. Only a small section is open to the public. Skulls and bones are arranged throughout which was really amazing to see.
  2. Sedlec Ossuary in Kutna Hora, Czech Republic is known as the bone church due to it being elaborately decorated with the bones of around 40,000 people. The bones are arranged to form chandeliers, a family crest and more.
  3. The Skull Tower- Nis Serbia– read about it in my Balkans Trip Recap Day 3.

Have you been to any sites similar to the ones mentioned or are you disgusted by the idea of bones being used for decoration or art?

While on the topic check out a few museums with some oddities on display that I’ve visited.

9 thoughts on “4,000 Skeletons at The Capuchin Crypt of Santa Maria della Concezione

    1. Snuggliest- Awesome! We had planned to visit San Bernadino when we flew into Milan a couple of weeks back but didn’t go into the city. In April it’s at the top of my list!

  1. I will never forget the skulls and bones at San Francisco Monastery Catacombs in Lima. It was fascinating and spooky!

    1. Another good one! When we visited the monastery I made sure to stay to the back of the group to get a few photos. The one difference was that due to the skulls/ bones being down in a pit, they were a bit harder to see than the other places that I’ve mentioned.

  2. Yes this definitely reminds me of the Skull Tower in Nis. It was the first thing I thought of when I saw the photo. It kind of reminds me of the pagoda at the killing fields in Cambodia as well.

    1. The Skull Tower and the Killing Fields pagoda make for an interesting comparison. They are similar yet so different. I find the Skull Tower to be a much more gruesome site/ display.

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