Rome

Capuchin Crypt

This lesser known attraction is for strong stomachs only with the bones of nearly 4,000 Capuchin monks arranged in macabre displays.

A morbid delight

Crypts and catacombs are admittedly not for everyone. But for those with an appreciation for the grotesque, Rome’s Capuchin Crypt is one of the best displays of its kind. Nearly 4,000 bodies of Capuchin friars are accounted for in these painstaking skeletal arrangements among rooms like the Crypt of the Skulls and the Crypt of the Leg Bones and Thigh Bones.

A reminder of mortality

While some viewers may take offense at the deconstruction and rearrangement of these remains, the Catholic Church contends they are an artistic reminder of our mortality. As a chilling sign in the Crypt of the Three Skeletons says: “What you are, we once were. What we are, you someday will be.” Consider this the non-Disney version of the Circle of Life.

A hidden chapel

This is truly Rome off the beaten path. This series of tiny chapels tucked away off the Piazza Barberini hardly carry the iconic status and name recognition of sites like the Colosseum or Saint Peter’s Basilica. If you’re traveling with teenagers, take a break from the traditional circuit of ancient ruins and art museums and earn yourself a cool parent badge.