The Aragonese Castle is located on a massive rock, connected to the Italian island of Ischia by a manmade stone bridge. The castle was built in 474 BC, and over many centuries protected residents from Mount Epomeo eruptions and Tyrrhenian Sea pirates. It has also been a convent and an infamous political prison run by the King of Naples from 1823 to 1862.
In my travels I've sat in many a chair, but this one was by far the most interesting. I have no explanation as to why I am smiling in this ghastly place.
Deep within the walls of the castle is a long-abandoned convent containing a nun's cemetery. When a cloistered nun died, her lifeless, unclothed body was seated on one of these chairs. As her body decomposed (slowly
), body fluids were collected in a special vase. (
Then, when all that remained was a dried skeleton, the bones were deposited within a designated vault. According to historic details, this somewhat strange practice was based on the desire to highlight that the human body was useless, since it was just a container for the nun's spirit.
A closer look at an individual death chair. Note the cross embedded in the wall above the chair.