The Bizarre Sight of Palermo

The visitors who enjoy the grisly views should stop at the Catacombe dei Cappuccini. The Capuchin Catacombs are ultimate museum of the macabre in Palermo. The catacombs were created in the 16th century and hold the remains of over 8000 souls. In the 1940s, Allied bombs hit the monastery, destroying many of the mummies. The Capuchin Monastery itself was rebuilt over the remains of the original medieval church in 1623 and was once again restored in the early 20th century.

Nowadays some bodies have remained as skulls and bones, but the majority of corpses are still in the process of rotting and you can see the faces with grotesque grimaces. However, not only monks, priests and nuns were mummified and displayed in the Capuchin Catacombs. There you can find the halls which are divided into categories: Men, Women, Virgins, Children, Priests, Monks, Professors and Individuals who made a donation  to the Catacombs “for the preservation of the bodies”. The majority of the inhabitants of the catacombs came from the upper social level. Famous people were buried in the catacombs including the Spanish painter Diego Velazquez and Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa.

Priests were generally preserved in their clerical vestments, monks would almost always be preserved in simple clothing, sometimes with ropes. The last buried corps is of 2-year-old Rosalia Lombaro, who died in 1920. She is so well-preserved, she has been nicknamed Sleeping Beauty.