19 March 2017

Word for the day: "Rotting Room"

Before the bodies of Spanish royalty are consigned to their gilded crypts, they are first consigned to a special chamber to allow the flesh to decay.
Rotting Room is the unglamorous translation of “El Pudridero.” When Felipe II designed the gargantuan El Escorial royal complex in the 16th century northwest of Madrid, he practically made it a shrine of death... Located behind the Pantheon walls, accessible only to monks at the Escorial monastery, this is a secretive room accessed by a private passage... It’s here where for at least 20 years mortal kings — and queens who birthed kings — decompose beneath lime until they are completely bone.

Centuries later, the Rotting Room is still in use.


  1. There was a similar practice in New Orleans prior to the 20th century. They had tombs with a space underneath called a "caveau." A body would be interred in the tomb and then after a period of time, often a year and a day, the tomb would be opened, the body (what was left of it) broken up, put in a sack and placed in the caveau. That way they could inter a lot of individuals in a relatively small space. I was told that there was even a special person who was employed to do the body who had special permission from the Catholic Church.


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