What Are Crypts?

What Are Crypts?

What Are Crypts?

A crypt is a chamber or vault, typically underground, that is used for religious or burial purposes. It’s a quiet and solemn space hidden beneath buildings. Crypts are often found beneath churches or cathedrals, but they can also be found in other types of buildings, such as mausoleums or private homes.

History of crypts

The use of crypts for burial purposes dates back to ancient times. In Egypt, for example, the pharaohs and their families were buried in underground tombs, or crypts. The Romans also used crypts for burial, and many of their catacombs, or underground cemeteries, still exist today.

In the early Christian church, crypts were used to house the remains of saints and martyrs. This practice continued into the Middle Ages, when crypts became increasingly elaborate and decorative. Many of the great cathedrals of Europe have beautiful crypts that are open to the public for visitation.

Types of crypts 

Burial crypts 

They are used to house the remains of the dead. burial crypts can be either individual or communal. Individual burial crypts are typically small chambers that can only hold one or two coffins. Communal burial crypts are larger chambers that can hold many coffins.


They are used to store the bones of the dead, after the flesh has decomposed. ossuaries are typically large, open chambers that are filled with bones. The bones are often stacked in piles or arranged in patterns.

Function of crypts

Crypts serve a number of functions. They can be used to:

  • House the remains of the dead
  • Provide a place for religious rituals, such as prayer and meditation
  • Store religious relics
  • Create a sense of awe and mystery
  • Provide a place for quiet contemplation
  • Modern crypts

Crypts are still used today for burial and religious purposes. However, they are also increasingly being used for other purposes, such as:

  • Wine cellars
  • Data centers
  • Secret meeting places
  • Art galleries

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How are crypts different from regular cemeteries?

A: Crypts are underground chambers, while cemeteries are outdoor spaces with graves on the surface. Crypts often have a more enclosed and intimate feel.

Q: Are crypts only used for burials?

A: While crypts are primarily used for burials, they can also serve religious functions and hold the remains of important figures or saints.

Q: Are crypts only found in churches?

A: Crypts are often found beneath churches and cathedrals, but they can also be located in other types of buildings like mausoleums and chapels.

Q: What’s the significance of ossuaries in crypts?

A: Ossuaries are chambers within crypts designed to store bones after decomposition. They showcase a different way of honoring the deceased.

Q: Can people visit crypts?

A: Yes, many historical crypts are open to the public as tourist attractions. They offer insights into the past, architecture, and cultural practices.

Q: Are there any famous crypts?

A: Yes, there are many famous crypts around the world. For example, the Capuchin Crypt in Rome is renowned for its artistic arrangement of bones.

Q: Can crypts be spooky or scary?

A: Some people might find the idea of underground chambers eerie, but crypts are generally peaceful places designed to honor the deceased.

Q: Are crypts used in modern times?

A: While traditional crypts are less common for burials today, modern variations exist. People still use crypt-like structures, and some historical crypts are repurposed for other uses.

Q: Are crypts the same in every culture?

A: No, different cultures and religions have their own practices and designs for crypts, reflecting their unique beliefs and traditions.

Q: Can anyone be buried in a crypt?

A: Crypts are often reserved for specific individuals, families, or religious figures. Access to a crypt can depend on various factors.

Q: Do crypts have any religious significance?

A: Yes, many crypts have religious significance, especially those that house the remains of saints or religious figures. They can become places of pilgrimage.

Q: Can crypts collapse over time?

A: Proper construction and maintenance prevent crypts from collapsing. Older crypts may need restoration to ensure their stability.

Q: What can we learn from visiting historical crypts?

A: Visiting historical crypts can teach us about history, art, architecture, and cultural practices related to burial and remembrance.


Crypts are more than just underground chambers; they are gateways to the past, holding stories of love, respect, and memories. They remind us of our shared humanity and the desire to remember those who have walked before us. Crypts continue to stand as quiet testaments to the bonds that transcend time and the everlasting connection we have with those who came before.