Discovering the Capuchin Crypt in Palermo, Sicily: A Travel Bite from Rick Steves’ Europe Travel Guide

Welcome to my latest travel bite, where I take you on a journey to the eerie Capuchin Crypt in Palermo, Sicily. This is a destination that has been well documented in Rick Steves’ Europe Travel Guide and deserves a spot on every traveler’s must-visit list. Join me as I unveil the crypt’s gruesome history, intricate displays of human remains, and the profound effect it has on those who visit. Let’s delve into this fascinating and macabre site together.

Discovering the Capuchin Crypt in Palermo, Sicily: A Travel Bite from Rick Steves’ Europe Travel Guide


When it comes to traveling, Italy has a plethora of beautiful cities and towns to visit. But, have you ever heard of the Capuchin Crypt in Palermo, Sicily? This quirky and unusual destination is not for the faint of heart, but for those who enjoy delving into the more chilling sides of history.

This article will take you on a virtual tour of the Capuchin Crypt and explore the Franciscan Order’s tradition of preserving entire bodies in their clothing of choice. We will also cover why the monastery started this practice and how it helped raise funds to support the monastery. Finally, we’ll discuss what visitors can expect when they wander through the halls of haunting faces.

The Origins of the Tradition

The preservation of bodies in the Capuchin Crypt dates back to the 16th century. According to legend, the monks discovered that the crypt preserved bodies miraculously. The tradition in the monastery was to preserve not only monks but also women, priests, soldiers, and even children in their clothing of choice. Visitors today can see these bodies in various states of preservation, some more eerie than others.

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The Fundraising Efforts of the Monastery

The Capuchin Crypt not only served as a place to preserve the bodies of the dead, but it also served as a source of revenue for the monastery. Wealthy parishioners could pay a fee for the privilege of being mummified in the crypt and have their eternal resting place within its walls. These funds allowed the monastery to support the upkeep of the space and the monks who resided within it.

A Haunting Experience for Visitors

Visitors are welcome to wander through the halls of haunting faces in the Capuchin Crypt any day of the week. The crypt spans several rooms and halls, each with dozens of mummified bodies on display. As you meander through the crypt, you’ll see bodies everywhere, some with their flesh still slightly visible and others completely skeletal.

Although eerie and macabre, the Capuchin Crypt can be an eye-opening experience that forces visitors to reflect on the fragility of life. The fact that these bodies are preserved in their everyday clothing serves to remind us that we are all mortal and that death comes for us all.

Here are some of the things to look out for when visiting the Capuchin Crypt:

  • The body of Brother Sylvester, who has been hanging in the crypt since 1599.
  • The fact that the bodies are arranged by profession, with rooms dedicated to soldiers, priests, women, and children.
  • The use of flowers and clothing to decorate some of the mummies.
  • The eerie silence that permeates the crypt, broken only by visitors’ footsteps.


While the Capuchin Crypt in Palermo, Sicily, may not be for everyone, it certainly provides a unique insight into one of Italy’s more macabre traditions. This destination is not just a place to send shivers down your spine; it also provides visitors with an opportunity to reflect on death and mortality.

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If you’re up for it, why not add the Capuchin Crypt to your next Italian itinerary? Who knows, you may just come away from the experience with a new outlook on life.


  1. Is the Capuchin Crypt suitable for children?
  • Due to the macabre and eerie nature of the destination, it is not recommended for children under the age of 12.
  1. How long does the tour of the crypt take?
  • The tour typically lasts between 30 minutes to an hour, depending on your level of interest.
  1. Are photography and videography allowed inside the crypt?
  • Unfortunately, no photography or videography is allowed inside the crypt to maintain the preservation of the mummies.
  1. Is the Capuchin Crypt accessible to visitors with disabilities?
  • The crypt is not wheelchair accessible as it requires visitors to walk up and down many steps.
  1. When is the best time to visit the Capuchin Crypt?
  • It is best to visit in the early morning or late afternoon to avoid the crowds during peak visiting hours.