Convento dei Cappuccini

Tridente, Trevi & the Quirinale

This church and convent complex safeguards what is possibly Rome's strangest sight: crypt chapels where everything from the picture frames to the light fittings is made of human bones. Between 1732 and 1775 resident Capuchin monks used the bones of 3700 of their departed brothers to create this macabre memento mori (reminder of death) – a 30m-long passageway ensnaring six crypts, each named after the type of bone used to decorate (skulls, shin bones, pelvises etc).

There’s an arch crafted from hundreds of skulls, vertebrae used as fleurs-de-lis, and light fixtures made of femurs. The accompanying multimedia museum tells the story of the Capuchin order of monks and is home to a work attributed to Caravaggio: St Francis in Meditation (c 1603). Don't miss the adjoining Chiesa dei Cappuccini (1626), accessible via the outside staircase. Hiring an audio tour (in Italian, English or Spanish) costs €5.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Tridente, Trevi & the Quirinale attractions

1. Fontana delle Api

0.05 MILES

Bernini crafted the Fontana delle Api, in the northeastern corner of Piazza Barberini, for the Barberini family, whose crest featured three bees in flight.

2. Piazza Barberini

0.07 MILES

More a traffic thoroughfare than a place to linger, this noisy square is named after the Barberini family, one of Rome’s great dynastic clans. It's home…

3. Fontana del Tritone

0.07 MILES

Dating from 1643, this Bernini-designed fountain piercing Piazza Barberini depicts the sea-god Triton blowing a stream of water from a conch, while seated…

4. Via Vittorio Veneto

0.09 MILES

Curving up from Piazza Barberini to Villa Borghese, Via Vittorio Veneto is the spiritual home of la dolce vita – the Rome of the swinging '50s and '60s…

5. Gallerie Nazionali: Palazzo Barberini

0.14 MILES

Commissioned to celebrate the Barberini family’s rise to papal power, this sumptuous baroque palace impresses even before you view its breathtaking art…

6. Galleria d'Arte Moderna

0.14 MILES

This gallery housed in an 18th-century Carmelite convent has a collection of art and sculpture from the 20th century that includes works by Italian…

7. Gagosian Gallery

0.16 MILES

The Rome branch of Larry Gagosian’s contemporary art empire has hosted the big names of contemporary art since it opened in 2007: Cy Twombly, Damien Hirst…