Step into the city of the dead

Step into the city of the dead
May 12 (Agencies) | Publish Date: 5/12/2019 12:51:44 PM IST

 Inside ghoulish 16th century Sicily catacombs where more than 8,000 corpses line the corridors at museum run by monks. 

The Capuchin Catacombs hold 8,000 corpses as well as around 1,252 mummies and is open to the public, for those who feel like spending their day walking amongst the unknown.

The tombs in Italy outgrew the original cemetery it was held at in the 16th century, which resulted in monks excavating the crypts below. In 1599 monks in the Palermo area of Sicily are said to have mummified a priest called Silvestro of Gubbio, placing him into the catacombs.

Burials at the catacombs stopped in the 1920s and the space is now a museum run by monks in the area. However, tourists are banned from snapping images of the area, as they trail around the underground tombs.

Pictures from inside the tombs show the variation of the rates of decomposition of the mummies. Some still had teeth, hair and skin, while other seems to be crumbling to pieces.

Other startling images show a person in a top hat and dress, while another stands next to them wearing what appears to be a gown. The corpse also has long hair.

Another disturbing picture shows a small child wrapped in a shawl with a golden bow on top of her head. Mummies can be seen lined up along the walls and around podiums, as well as lead in tombs. In order to secure a place in the tombs, those who wanted to be buried, would have to request a space before they died.

It was said to have been a sign of status to have been displayed and the bodies would have a place in the tombs as long as the family paid. Mummification is an ancient tradition which has been favoured by those living in Sicily, with the Catacombs being prime examples of this.

Due to the areas interest and history, the Italian region is set to launch a research laboratory specifically on the practice of mummification. 


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