AN UNDERGROUND SANCTUARY

Accidentally rediscovered in the 16th-century, the Catacombs of Rome date back to the early 2nd-century and are most famous for Christian burials, but people of all religions can be found buried there. There is said to be at least 40 catacombs underneath the city, some of which have only recently been discovered. These catacombs are mostly excavated from the local tuff, or volcanic rock, and are most noted for Christian burials.

Catacombs Body

FROM URNS TO GRAVES

The custom of burying the dead in underground areas originates from the Etruscans. The later Romans continued this custom, but introduced cremation and placed the ashes into pots or urns in a columbarium—an underground version of a mausoleum. Inhumation, or the burial of unburnt remains, became more fashionable towards the end of the 2nd-century. Graves and sarcophagi ranging from simple to elaborate, depending on wealth, became commonplace.

CEMETERIES REPLACE CATACOMBS

This era also marks the beginning of Christian burials, who also preferred inhumation because of the belief in resurrection at the Second Coming. Many preferred to be buried in these chambers alongside the martyrs in the beginning, but the tradition eventually moved to using cemeteries.

Empty Catacomb

Today, these catacombs have become an important monument to the Christian faith and the early Christian church. Passageways are lit and most tombs are open (with no remains), welcoming visitors to observe these ancient traditions.

MUST-SEE

Catacombs of San Sebastiano

Catacombs of San Callisto

Catacombs of Sant’Angese

Catacombs of Domitilla

Catacombs of Priscilla

Jewish sections in the catacombs

Etruscan sections in the catacombs

Ancient Roman sections in the catacombs

 

HOURS

Catacombs of San Sebastiano

Monday – Saturday: 9:00 to 12:00 & 14:00 to 17:00

 

Catacombs of San Callisto

Thursday – Tuesday: 9:00 to 12:00 & 14:00 to 17:00

 

Catacombs of Priscilla

Tuesday – Sunday: 9:00 to 12:00 & 14:00 to 17:00

 

Catacombs of Domitilla

Wednesday – Monday: 9:00 to 12:00 & 14:00 to 17:00

 

Catacombs of Sant’Agnese

Tuesday – Saturday: 9:00 to 12:00 & 16:00 to 18:00

Sunday: 16:00 to 18:00

Monday: 9:00 to 12:00

 

Antonio Bosio, the archaeologist who rediscovered the catacombs, got LOST inside, walking around for hours down the cold, dark, and muddy passages.

The catacombs can go as deep as five stories.