Located under the Capuchin Church in Vienna we find the Imperial Crypt, the place where the tombs of the Holy Roman Emperors are located, that is, the tombs of the Habsburg dynasty.
In the Imperial Crypt in Vienna we can find almost 150 sarcophagi with the remains of emperors and empresses as well as their descendants from 1633 to the last royals before the end of the monarchy.
The last one to be buried here was Otto Habsburg, in 2011.
Visit the Imperial Crypt in Vienna
The church of the Capuchins has little special. It has a very austere exterior facade with a no less simple interior. But the important thing about this church is in the crypt.
Once we go down to the crypt we see the different sarcophagi, some really impressive. All the sarcophagi are made of metal, although not always the same, except for one that is made of stone, that of Francisco José I.
Throughout the tour we go through different rooms and it is most likely that if you are not an expert in the history of the Habsburgs you will not know anyone who is there.
Until you get to the so-called Vault of Maria Theresa where the sarcophagus of the famous Austrian empress is located.
The remains of María Teresa are found in a double sarcophagus together with her husband Francisco I in what is possibly the most impressive in the Imperial Crypt.
But it is also very interesting, more than anything because of the fame of those found there, since the sarcophagi are less spectacular than others, the Francisco José Vault.
In it there are 3 tombs, that of Francisco José himself, that of his wife Isabel de Wittelsbach (better known as Sissi) and that of their son Archduke Rudolph.
It is common to see these tombs surrounded by flowers.
The funeral rite of the Habsburgs
Very curious is the rite that is followed for one of the Habsburgs to be buried here. First, the body is embalmed and the intestines, eyes and brain are removed and placed in a copper urn in St. Stephen’s Cathedral.
In the meantime, the heart is placed in a silver urn and sent to the Hapsburg Crypt of Hearts in St. Augustine, which is also in Vienna.
The bodies are placed in a wooden coffin decorated with velvet, which in turn is placed in the sarcophagus, locked with 2 keys, one of which will remain in the possession of the Capuchin monks and the other in the hands of the royal family.
The master of ceremonies responds with the name of the deceased along with all noble titles that he holds, to which the custodian replies “we do not know him.”
At that moment the door is knocked a second time and it is asked again who is asking to enter. On this occasion, the answer is the name followed only by the most important titles.
But again the answer is “ we don’t know him ”. There has to be a third knock on the door and again he wonders who to ask to enter. Now the master of ceremonies responds only with his first name and the tagline “a humble sinner”, then opening the door and continuing the journey to the place where he will rest eternally.
You can find more information on the official website of the Capuchin Crypt, although it is only in German.