“The city of the dead”: which is one of the most eerie cemeteries in the world
After learning that the peculiarity of the local soil prevents the decomposition of the bodies, people began to put the deceased in the catacombs without coffins.
14 may 2019 12:40
In Palermo in Sicily in the XVI century opened, the Capuchin monastery, which was home to many monks. By the end of the century the question arose about the need for a private cemetery. For this purpose were adapted the crypt under the monastic Church, and the first here was buried the mummified priest named Silvestro of Gubbio, and later it was moved to the remains of several previously deceased monks. And in the XVII century it became clear that the peculiarity of the soil and air in this dungeon prevent decomposition of bodies.
The idea is to keep the body incorruptible like many of the townspeople, and they began to contact the monastery with a request to be buried in the catacombs. Soon the space became cramped and the Capuchins added to the crypt a few corridors.
Despite the special natural conditions of the catacombs, the body is treated. At first they were dried in special chambers (Collatio) for eight months, and then the mummified remains were washed with vinegar. During epidemics method changed: the dead were immersed in the diluted lime or solutions containing arsenic. After that, the deceased, dressed in the finest clothes, placed in the underground corridors. Notable citizens have donated generously to the needs of the monastery; responsively they expected not only the final resting place of the will, could include dressing the body several times a year.
In 1837 he was issued a ban put on display the bodies of the dead, and part of the new corridor was filled with coffins. But the townspeople have found a way to circumvent the prohibition in coffins removed one of the walls or left of the “Windows” allowing to see the remains.
Officially, the catacombs were closed in 1881, although after that, a few people still were buried there. In its final form of unusual cemetery has acquired the form of a rectangle with an additional Corridor of the priests. Side of the rectangle is the so — called Hallways of the monks, men, women and professionals. At the intersection of major corridors created by a small cubicula where they buried the children and virgins. Only underground cemetery is now about 8,000 bodies, among whom 1252 mummies, standing, sitting and lying along the walls in the cool corridors, open for any visitor of the Museum.
One of the most famous bays is the chapel of St. Rosalia. In 1920, from pneumonia, died two-year-old Rosalia Lombardo, and saddened by her grief-stricken father managed to bury their daughter at the monastery. Her burial was one of the last in the history of the catacombs, but it’s not the famous. The embalming was carried out on the new for that time the family wanted the baby as long as possible was. Work was done by a Sicilian chemist Alfredo Salafi; his secret was found only in the XXI century in the analysis of monastic archives.
Leather Rosalia for a long time has not lost its natural color, and the child seemed to be asleep (because this mummy was nicknamed “Sleeping beauty” (eng. Sleeping Beauty, ital. Bella addormentata). The first signs of decomposition appeared only in the mid-2000s years. To prevent further destruction of tissue, the coffin was moved to a dry place and enclosed in a glass container filled with nitrogen.
Currently, this is a unique cemetery (turned into a Museum run by the monks) is one of the most famous attractions of Palermo, attracting many tourists. Learn about the ecological methods of burial.