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Nun's Cemetery Aragonese Castle Island of Ischia Italy

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. 

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Aragonese Castle, Ischia, Italy





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. (note the space under the seat

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.

About the Author

John Moen is a cartographer who along with his wife are the orignal founders of worldatlas.com. He and his wife, Chris Woolwine-Moen, produced thousands of award-winning maps that are used all over the world and content that aids students, teachers, travelers and parents with their geography and map questions. Today, it's one of the most popular educational sites on the web.

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This page was last updated on July 13, 2016.