Not recommended if you are sever claustrophobia. All passageways are easy walk about. Moist down there. They have air pumped in. I was disappointed that we didn't get to see a lot of early Christian artwork, but we did get to see some. No pictures are allowed inside, so if all you want to do is take pictures, this may not be for you. Great for a hot day. Cool to see. Even my mother-in-law thought they were cool and she didn't want to go see a "creepy underground cemetery".
We came out to the Catacombs with high expectations. They were quickly dashed, however, once we realized that they were closed for 2 hours for lunch (12-2). We killed time in a partially rundown town nearby, trying to avoid the sun. Once 2 o'clock rolled around we came back to the Catacombs and quickly were placed in a tour group where the average age was 65 y/o. The tour itself was pretty short, about 10 min, although it was often slowed down by some of the elderly in our group. I was expecting to see bones and artrifacts, but there were only small holes dug into the stone walls. Our guide informed us that the remains had since been removed and buried somewhere else. I was very dissapointed by our trip to the catacombs here in Rome. I think we should have gone to the Catacombs while we were in Paris.
Rome is full of Catacombs. Rome was a pagan city as much as now it is catholic. Catholics were not allowed at the beginning and they had to hide to avoid death. There are dozens of Catacombs all around, but, once you've seen one, sincerely, there's no reason to see all others. You're in Rome, you gotta see a lot of stuff, don't loose too much time with them!
The Catacombs are an underground maze. In the olden days, the Christians used them to hide from the Romans who were persecuting them. There are also the tombs of martyrs, such as St. Cecilia. They're like a damp cave, and there are paintings on the walls of the maze.
You can't take pictures though, the flash damages the paint. Also, NEVER wander off, ALWAYS stay with the tour guide. It's very easy to get lost in the maze, and I've been told that it can be impossible to be found again because the maze is so complex.
Good web site to check out:
Catacombs of Rome
Of Rome's more than 60 early Christian catacombs, only five are open to visitors and pilgrims. The best-known and most-often visited are The Catacombs of St. Callixtus (via Appia Antica, 126; Tel: 39-06-513-0151). In all, the Roman catacombs encompass hundreds of miles of passageways and tens of thousands of tombs with paintings inscriptions and sculptures that document the rites and customs of the Church's first centuries. The four less familiar catacombs that are open to the public are: The Catacombs of St. Agnes (via Nomentana, 349; Tel: 39-06-861-0840). The Catacombs of Priscilla (via Salaria, 430; Tel: 39-06-8620-6272). The Catacombs of Domitilla (via delle Sette Chiese, 282/0; Tel: 39-06-511-0342). The Catacombs of St. Sebastian (via Appia Antica, 136; Tel: 39-06-788-7035).
All are open year round, except for major Church holidays; hours vary, so call before you go. Admission is about $5 and includes a 30-minute guided tour, available in several languages throughout the day.
The catacombs were the burial places of the Christians. All catacombs were outside the walls of the city as there was a law forbidding the burial of bodies within the precincts of the town. Of the over sixty catacombs around Rome, a very few. five, are open to the public.
Excavated over a stretch of three centuries, from about.150 to 450 A.D., these underground cemeteries are similar in shape and structure and made up of long galleries, cubicles and crypts. They contain countless tombs adorned with monuments, sculptures, inscriptions and paintings, all expressing the same Christian faith of the early Church of Rome.
Closed on Wednesdays.
The Catacombs or necropoli, consist of kilometers of passageways and crypts of Christians, popes, and saints. Excavated over a stretch of three centuries, from about 150 to 450 AD, these underground cemeteries are similar in shape and structure and made up of long galleries, cubicles and crypts. They contain countless tombs adorned with monuments, sculptures, inscriptions and paintings, all expressing the same Christian faith of the early Church of Rome.
These are underground burial sites.In the beginning they were only burial places. Here the Christians gathered to celebrate their funeral rites, the anniversaries of the martyrs and of the dead. Later they became real shrines of the martyrs, centres of devotion and of pilgrimage for Christians from every part of the empire.
In compliance with the Roman law, which forbade the burial of the dead within the city walls, all catacombs are located outside the city, along the great consular roads, generally in the immediate suburban area of that age.
The Catacombs which line the Appian Way .
There are 3 complexes of catacombs of San Callisto , San Sebastiano and Domitilla . The name catacomb originally referred only to the Catacombs of San Sebastiano , a burial place set into the subterranean galleries of a pozzolana mine . The one I was told on the tour that was the oldest of the Catacombs was that of San Callisto , thought to have held the tombs of almost all the popes of the 3rd century , WOW .
I don't have that much information but I will find out. I remember being there 5 years ago and I thought it was a great experience to see the place. It was cold, creepy, dark, and when you get lost, you are dead :-))) Just kidding! It's a maze there except you have dead people :-) Oh and nobody is allowed to take photographs :-( We need to respect the dead. But it's worth seeing. It is not too far from Rome either.
The sarcophagus in the catacombs is a stone or marble coffin. It is decorated with sculptured reliefs and inscriptions.
Walking through the catacombs from the first christian era, recognizing the names Peter and Paulus - gives a strange feeling of awe in the encounter with another time..