The Catacombs of Rome are ancient underground burial places mostly built by the Christian communities of the first four centuries AD.
They were usually dug in tuff outside the ancient walls of the city, as the dead could not be buried inside the city.
Today over 40 catacombs still exist underneath the territory of Rome covering approximately 150 kilometres on multiple levels.
The oldest nuclei of the Roman Catacombs date back to the end of the 2nd century. Before then Christians were buried together with pagans, but as the community’s numbers increased it became necessary to create collective cemeteries. To solve the problem of space and thanks to the ease with which it was possible to dig into the soft tuff under the city, they were built underground with tunnels and on various levels. At first the Catacombs were used exclusively for funeral purposes and for the cult of the martyrs buried there.
In the 3rd century in Rome alone there were 25 cemeteries, some of which were property of the Church. In 313 Christianity became a legitimate religion and initially many Christians wanted to be buried near the martyrs.
But by the 5th century burials in the Catacombs were almost abandoned, but these underground burial grounds continued to be a pilgrimage destination.
Full tickets € 10.00
Reduced tickets € 7.00
Languages available for guided tours of the three listed Catacombs: Italian, English, French, Spanish, German.
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Address: Via Appia Antica, 110
From Termini Station:
Visiting the Rome Catacombs plunges us into the world of the early Christians with an extremely strong emotional and sensorial impact.
The darkness, the air we breathe and the confined spaces all strike our senses.
Even more moving are the signs of a profound piety for the dead, glowing peacefully with the certainty of the Resurrection Christ promised all believers.
The catacombs of St. Callixtus cover an area of almost 20 kilometres underneath the ancient Appian Way.
They began to be built towards the end of the 2nd century and soon became the official cemetery of the Roman Church.
Over 50 martyrs and 16 Popes were buried in its tunnels
Nine Pontiffs and other representatives of the ecclesiastical hierarchy were buried in the crypt known as “The Crypt of the Popes”.
In the adjacent crypt we find the place of the first burial of Saint Cecilia, whose relics were later transferred to the church dedicated to her in Trastevere.
A little further on, a tunnel of the late 2nd century leads to the Cubicles of the Sacraments, which feature frescoes from the first half of the 3rd century alluding to Baptism, the Eucharist and the Resurrection of the Flesh.
A nearby cubicle houses one of the oldest frescoes in the Roman Catacombs (late 2nd – early 3rd century): on the roof a Good Shepherd with worshippers and on the far wall two fish with a basket of bread on their backs, the symbol of the Eucharist.hide