The Capuchin crypt, or Habsburg necropolis (Kapuzinergruft or Kaisergruft), which houses the remains of the family that ruled the Holy Roman Empire, Austria, and Hungary for several centuries, is about to welcome the burial of Princess Yolande de Ligne. This is the last place available in the famous vault, after which no member of the family will be able to be buried there.
Princess Yolande de Ligne was the wife of Archduke Charles-Louis of Austria, the fourth son of the last Austrian emperor Charles and his wife Zita. She turned one hundred in May 2023. Widowed in 2007, she died in Brussels on September 13, 2023. She will have the honour of occupying the last available place in the Habsburg family crypt, located in the heart of Vienna.
The crypt was built at the wish of Empress Anne, wife of Emperor Matthias I, in the early 17th century in the Capuchin convent overlooking Neuer Markt square, a stone’s throw from the Hofburg imperial palace. Initially designed for her and her husband, the crypt was enlarged eight times to accommodate members of the Habsburg family, both illustrious and less illustrious.
All the successive emperors of the Danube monarchy, from Matthias I to Franz Joseph, who died in 1916, are still buried here. The last emperor, Charles, is buried in Madeira, where he died in exile. His wife Zita, who died in 1989, was buried in the Capuchin crypt, reviving the sumptuous ceremonial of imperial funerals.
In the cool alleys of the crypt, with its sober white walls, you can pay your respects to the discreet coffins of the many archdukes and archduchesses of the prolific Habsburg family or admire the sumptuous sarcophagi of the greatest figures of the monarchy, such as the double coffin containing the great Maria Theresa and her husband Francis of Lorraine, in love and united for eternity.
Even today, the tomb of Empress Sissi and that of her son Rudolf receive many tributes from visitors, who like to leave photographs, flowers, and ribbons with them.
Yolande de Ligne’s husband, Archduke Charles-Louis, is already buried in the crypt, in the last room, alongside his grandmother Zita of Bourbon-Parma, his father and mother, Archduke Otto von Habsburg and Princess Regina of Saxe-Meiningen. Princess Yolande is due to be buried on October 7th, in the strictest family privacy. On that day, the crypt will be closed to the public. The director of the crypt explains that after Princess Yolande, it will no longer be possible to welcome other members of the family—which is still very large today—as the crypt is also a place of meditation and visitation, which must allow a minimum of traffic.
With this final Viennese funeral, a page of European history that began four centuries ago is turned forever.