Chiara Bianchi

Exploring Santa Maria della Concezione Crypts

Uncover the mysterious allure of Santa Maria della Concezione Crypts, a hidden gem in Rome's Centro Storico.

Centro Storico Attraction
Santa Maria della Concezione Crypts interior view


Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini, also known as the Capuchin Crypt, is a hidden gem in Rome that will fascinate and intrigue you. This underground complex contains the skeletal remains of thousands of Capuchin friars, arranged in elaborate and macabre displays. In this article, you will learn about the history and meaning of this unique attraction, as well as some tips and practical information for your visit.

Setting Expectations: Downsides and Time Considerations

The Capuchin Crypt is not for the faint of heart or the easily offended. Some people may find the sight of human bones disturbing or disrespectful, while others may appreciate the artistic and religious value of the crypt. The crypt is also very small and can be visited in less than an hour, so it may not be worth the trip if you have limited time in Rome. However, if you are looking for something different and memorable, the Capuchin Crypt is a must-see.

Tips for your visit of the Capuchin Crypt

  • Respect the silence. The crypt is a sacred place and a silent zone, so please keep your voice low and turn off your phone.
  • Dress appropriately. The crypt is part of a church, so you should dress modestly and cover your shoulders and knees.

You can also visit the museum and the church above the crypt, which contain some interesting artworks and relics related to the Capuchin order. The museum also has an audio guide that explains the history and symbolism of the crypt.

Practical Information

Opening Hours: The crypt is open from 9 am to 7 pm every day, except on Thursdays when it closes at 2 pm. The last admission is 30 minutes before closing.

How to Get There: The crypt is located on Via Vittorio Veneto, near Piazza Barberini. You can take the metro line A to Barberini station, or the bus lines 52, 53, 61, 63, 80, 95, 116, 175 or 492.

Price: The entrance fee is 8.5 euros for adults, 5 euros for students and seniors, and free for children under 18. The audio guide costs an extra 3 euros.

Crowds: The crypt is usually not very crowded, but it can get busy on weekends and holidays. You may have to wait in line for a few minutes before entering.

Weather Considerations: The crypt is underground and has a constant temperature of about 15 degrees Celsius, so it can be a nice escape from the heat or cold outside.

Photography: Photography is strictly forbidden inside the crypt, as well as in the museum and the church. Please respect this rule and do not try to sneak a picture.

Accessibility: The crypt is accessible by stairs only, so it may not be suitable for people with mobility issues or strollers.

Facilities: There are no toilets or cafés inside the crypt complex, but you can find some nearby on Via Veneto or Piazza Barberini.

Tours: There are no guided tours of the crypt, but you can use the audio guide or read the informative panels along the way.

Bringing Children: The crypt may not be suitable for young children or sensitive ones, as they may find it scary or upsetting. Use your discretion and prepare them beforehand if you decide to bring them along.

Bringing Pets: Pets are not allowed inside the crypt, the museum or the church.

These details are subject to change; please check the official website for the latest information

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are the Santa Maria della Concezione Crypts?

    The Santa Maria della Concezione Crypts are a series of underground chambers beneath the church of Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini in Rome. They contain the skeletal remains of about 4,000 friars who died between 1528 and 1870. The bones are arranged in elaborate and macabre displays, such as chandeliers, arches, and coats of arms.

  • Why were the crypts created?

    The crypts were created as a way of honoring the dead and reminding the living of their mortality. The friars believed that their bodies were only temporary vessels for their souls, and that they would be resurrected on the day of judgment. They also wanted to create a space for prayer and meditation for the visitors.

  • How can I visit the crypts?

    The crypts are open to the public from Monday to Saturday, from 9:00 am to 6:30 pm. The entrance fee is 8.5 euros for adults and 5 euros for students and seniors. You can also book a guided tour online or by phone. The tours last about an hour and include a visit to the church and the museum.

  • What are the rules for visiting the crypts?

    The crypts are a sacred place, so you should respect the silence and the decorum. You are not allowed to take photos or videos inside the crypts, nor to touch or move any of the bones. You should also dress modestly and cover your shoulders and knees. You can leave a donation at the end of your visit if you wish.

Must see

  • The Crypt of the Resurrection

    This is the first crypt you will encounter after descending the stairs. It features a large painting of Jesus rising from the dead, surrounded by skeletons and skulls. The painting was made by a French painter named Antoine de Ville in 1700. The crypt also contains a plaque with a famous inscription that reads: "What you are now we used to be; what we are now you will be..."

  • The Crypt of the Skulls

    This is the second crypt, and it is entirely decorated with skulls. Some of them are arranged in patterns, such as crosses, stars, and circles. Others are piled up in niches or hung from the ceiling. The skulls belong to different friars who died at different ages, as you can tell by their size and shape. Some of them still have hair or teeth attached.

  • The Crypt of the Pelvises

    This is the third crypt, and it is dominated by pelvises. They form arches, columns, and walls along the corridor. The pelvises are mixed with other bones, such as ribs, vertebrae, and femurs. The effect is both impressive and disturbing, as you walk among thousands of human remains.

  • The Crypt of the Three Skeletons

    This is the fourth and last crypt, and it contains three complete skeletons dressed in friar's robes. They are placed in glass cases on wooden pedestals. The skeleton on the left holds a scythe, symbolizing death. The skeleton on the right holds a balance, symbolizing judgment. The skeleton in the middle holds a cross, symbolizing salvation. They represent the three stages of human existence: life, death, and eternity.

If you visit the crypts, you will surely have a unique and unforgettable experience. You will witness a fascinating example of art and faith, as well as a powerful reminder of your own mortality. You will also learn more about the history and culture of Rome and its religious orders. However, be prepared to face some disturbing images that might shock or upset you. If you are sensitive or faint-hearted, you might want to skip this attraction or visit it with caution.

Lesser known stories and Interesting Facts

  • The crypt of bones

    The most famous feature of the church is the crypt of bones, where the skeletal remains of about 4,000 Capuchin friars are arranged in macabre displays. The crypt consists of six small chapels, each with a different theme and decoration. Some of the bones are used to form chandeliers, crosses, and even a clock. The crypt is meant to be a reminder of the brevity of life and the inevitability of death.

  • The painting of St. Michael

    The first chapel on the right has a dramatic painting of St. Michael the Archangel Defeating Satan by Guido Reni, commissioned by Cardinal Antonio Barberini, the brother of Pope Urban VIII. According to a legend, Reni painted Satan with the face of Cardinal Giovanni Battista Pamphilj, who had offended him in some way. Pamphilj later became Pope Innocent X and was a rival of the Barberini family.

  • The relics of St. Felix of Cantalice

    The second chapel on the left has a glass case containing the relics of St. Felix of Cantalice, a Capuchin friar who was known for his humility and charity. He was the first Capuchin to be canonized and is the patron saint of children. His relics include his skull, his sandals, his rosary, and his leather bag that he used to collect alms for the poor.

  • The tomb of Princess Barberini

    The third chapel on the left has a marble tomb of Princess Barberini, the daughter of Taddeo Barberini and Anna Colonna. She died in childbirth at the age of 22 in 1646. Her tomb is decorated with angels, flowers, and a portrait medallion. Her husband, Prince Maffeo Barberini, later became a Capuchin friar and was buried next to her.

  • The statue of St. Francis in Ecstasy

    The fourth chapel on the left has a statue of St. Francis in Ecstasy by Pierre Legros, depicting the moment when St. Francis received the stigmata, or the wounds of Christ, on his hands and feet. The statue is made of marble and bronze and shows St. Francis kneeling on a cloud, surrounded by angels. The statue was commissioned by Cardinal Paluzzo Paluzzi Altieri degli Albertoni in 1704.

Historical Background

The church of Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini was built between 1626 and 1631 by order of Pope Urban VIII, who belonged to the Barberini family and was a member of the Capuchin order before becoming pope. The pope wanted to have a church for his Capuchin brothers near his palace on the Quirinal Hill. He also wanted to honor his brother, Antonio Barberini, who was a cardinal and a Capuchin friar.

The church was designed by Antonio Casoni and Michele da Bergamo, two architects who were also Capuchin friars. The church has a simple brick facade with white stone pilasters and a triangular pediment. The interior has a single nave with five chapels on each side and a barrel vault ceiling painted with an Assumption of Mary by Liborio Coccetti.

The church was consecrated on September 8, 1630, the feast day of the Nativity of Mary, who is also the patroness of the Immaculate Conception. The church is dedicated to Our Lady of the Conception of the Capuchins, which is why it is also known as Santa Maria della Concezione or Santa Maria Immacolata.

Nearby Restaurants

  • Hard Rock Cafe Rome A popular American restaurant chain that offers burgers, steaks, salads, and cocktails in a rock 'n' roll themed setting. It is located just across the street from the church and has a large collection of memorabilia from famous musicians.
  • Ristorante Ad Hoc A cozy and elegant restaurant that specializes in Roman cuisine and wine. It is located in a historic building near Piazza Barberini and offers dishes such as carbonara, cacio e pepe, and saltimbocca.
  • Gelateria Venchi A famous Italian gelato shop that has been making artisanal ice cream since 1878. It is located on Via Veneto and offers a variety of flavors, such as chocolate, hazelnut, pistachio, and tiramisu.

Nearby Attractions

  • Piazza Barberini A beautiful square that features two fountains by Gian Lorenzo Bernini: the Triton Fountain and the Fountain of the Bees. The square is also home to the Palazzo Barberini, a magnificent palace that houses the National Gallery of Ancient Art.
  • Villa Borghese A large and scenic park that contains several museums, gardens, statues, and fountains. The park is a great place to relax, enjoy nature, and admire art. Some of the highlights include the Borghese Gallery, the Bioparco zoo, and the Temple of Asclepius.
  • Spanish Steps A famous staircase that connects Piazza di Spagna with Piazza Trinità dei Monti. The steps are a popular spot for tourists, locals, and artists. They are also surrounded by elegant buildings, shops, and cafes. At the top of the steps, there is a beautiful church and a panoramic view of the city.


The church of Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini is a unique and fascinating attraction in Rome that offers a glimpse into the history, culture, and spirituality of the Capuchin order. The church is not only a place of worship, but also a museum of art and a crypt of bones. Whether you are interested in religion, art, or mystery, you will find something to captivate you in this church. If you are looking for a different and memorable experience in Rome, don't miss this church.