Catacombs in Rome
Catacombs are underground passageways used for burials for centuries. Beginning in the second century, Jewish, pagan, and early Christian Roman citizens were buried in the catacombs. As early as the 3rd century AD, catacombs served as the official cemetery of Rome’s Church. There are around half a million Christians buried here, including 16 popes and many martyrs.
In the early days of Rome, a quarry was found next to the site of a catacomb, thus giving the word “catacomb” its meaning.
Catacombs what is it
Ancient Roman cities prohibited burial places within their walls. Therefore, Christians in the 2nd century were unable to bury their dead, so they began digging tunnels just outside the city. The word ‘catacomb‘ originates from the Greek words katà (under) and kymbe (cavity), and its origins can be traced back to the first burial grounds found near natural caves. As time passed, the underground network of tunnels and galleries grew larger.
The practice of catacomb burial declined quickly after the Edict of Milan was passed by Constantine I in 313 giving Christians legal status within the Roman Empire.
The underground relics of Christian martyrs and popes were moved to the aboveground basilicas for safekeeping during the 9th century after Rome was raided several times. In the 16th century, the catacombs were rediscovered after the loculi (wall graves) were gradually emptied. There have been more than 60 different catacombs discovered since then. First Christians had to endure incredible difficulties before they were legally recognized by the state according to the inscriptions on the slabs.
At the moment, only five of them are open to the general public, and they are:
Catacombs of San Sebastiano
The Catacombs of San Sebastiano are located at Via Appia Antica, 136. It is 12 km long and is named after San Sebastiano, a martyred soldier who became a Christian. It is a great experience to visit both of them together with those of San Callisto. Opening hours are 9:00 to 12:00 Monday through Saturday and 14:00 to 17:00 on Sunday.
You can get to the Catacombs of San Sebastiano from the San Giovanni Metro Station. Once you get off, take bus no 218 to Fosse Ardeatine. You can reach the entrance to the catacombs by walking along the Via delle Sette Chiese.
Catacombs of San Calisto
San Calixto’s catacombs are located at 110/126 Via Appia Antica. It has a network of 20 km of galleries and houses the tombs of 16 pontiffs and dozens of Christian martyrs. Opening hours are 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 14:00 p.m. to 17:00 p.m. from Thursday through Tuesday.
Take bus 714 to San Giovanni Laterano from Termini Station. Then take bus 218 and get off near the Fosse Ardeatine. In a few steps, you will find the catacombs entrance.
Catacombs of Priscilla
On Via Salaria, 430, you can find the Catacombs of Priscilla. Some of its interior frescoes are important for the history of art because they are the first representations of the Virgin Mary. Tuesday through Sunday, 9:00 to 12:00 and 14:00 to 17:00 are the opening hours.
Catacombs of Domitilla
The Domitilla Catacombs are located on Via delle Sette Chiese 280. Catacombs with a length of more than 15 km were discovered in 1593 and named after Vespasiano’s granddaughter. Opening hours are 9:00 to 12:00 and 14:00 to 17:00, Wednesday through Monday.
Catacombs of Sant’Agnese
Catacombs of Saint Agnes are located in Via Nomentana, 349. The catacombs are where Saint Agnes was buried after she was tortured for her Christian faith. The opening times are from 9:00 to 12:00 and from 16:00 to 18:00; the catacombs are closed on Sunday mornings and Monday afternoons.
catacombs rome tickets price for 2023
Entrance tickets from July 1, 2022
Starting from July 1, 2022, the cost of entrance tickets to the catacombs will be as follows:
- The standard admission fee is € 10,00
- Concession tickets € 7,00
Entrance tickets until June 30, 2023
- The Standard Admission Fee € 8,00
- Concession Tickets Fee € 5,00 – Children aged 7 to 16, School groups from Elementary through High School, Students of Archaeology, Architecture, Art History, and Cultural Studies, up to 25 years of age with proof of eligibility Priests, Religious, Seminarians, and Novices with proof of eligibility.
- Children up to 6 years of age
- Disabled (>74%) and their assistant
- Students from the Pontifical Institute of Christian Archaeology
- Salesian brothers of don Bosco and sisters of Mary, Help of Christians
- For those accompanying groups of minors (professors, teachers, and catechists): one free ticket for every 15 paying visitors
- Two complimentary admissions for groups of at least 35 persons, paying the standard admission fee
- Licensed tour guides with proof of eligibility
- Researchers who, certifying the object of their research, make a specific request to the Pontifical Commission of Sacred Archaeology
catacombs rome tour
A Rome Catacombs tour is a wonderful way to get a taste of some of Rome’s darker side, and a great way to get to know it better
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
What are the Catacombs in Rome?
The Catacombs are underground cemeteries that are located in Rome.
Are there still bodies in the Roman catacombs?
As Christianity was illegal at this time, many early Christians were martyred nearby and their graves remain in the Rome Catacombs.
Are the catacombs in Rome worth seeing?
You will find a wealth of information about the city’s history in the catacombs that you would not otherwise be able to uncover. The Roman catacombs were used as burial grounds for popes, and early Christians used tables and benches for worship down below.
Which is the most famous catacomb of Rome?
There are over ten martyrs and 16 popes buried in the catacombs of San Callisto, probably Rome’s most famous catacomb. It extends almost 20 km.
Can we take pictures in the catacombs?
It’s fine to take pictures. While it is not permitted to touch or rub the remains inside the catacombs, you are free to take as many pictures as you like. There is very dim lighting in the catacombs. It may be necessary to use your flash in certain areas.
What is the dress code for the catacombs?
Since this is an underground location, it can get cold, even when the sun is scorching outside. Pack a lightweight jacket for your tour so you can carry it throughout your excursion. It is not always flat in the catacomb tunnels. As well, you may spend a lot of time on your feet. A comfortable pair of shoes will make your exploration more enjoyable. If you intend to walk a lot, carry a water bottle.
Opening days and times 2023
The Catacombs of St. Callixtus are open the following hours:
Monday 09:00 – 12:00 14:00 – 17:00
Tuesday 09:00 – 12:00 14:00 – 17:00
Thursday 09:00 – 12:00 14:00 – 17:00
Friday 09:00 – 12:00 14:00 – 17:00
Saturday 09:00 – 12:00 14:00 – 17:00
Sunday 09:00 – 12:00 14:00 – 17:00
The ticket office closes at 16:50
The catacombs can only be visited in groups of at least two persons.
The Catacombs of St. Callixtus are closed the following days:
Every Wednesday, New Year’s Day (1st January), From 20th January 2022 to 15th February 2022, Easter (17th April 2022), Christmas (25th December)
Adults: € 8
Children (less than 15): € 5
How to get there
Catacombs of San Sebastiano – Via Appia Antica, 136 – Rome
Catacombs of San Calixto – Via Appia Antica, 110/126 – Rome
Catacombs of Priscilla – Via Salaria, 430 – Rome
Catacombs of Domitilla – Via delle Sette Chiese, 280 – Rome
Catacombs of Saint Agnes – Via Nomentana, 349 – Rome