We visited the catacomb of San Callixtus whilst on a visit to Rome. Frankly, we had no choice because we were on a cruise ship tour.
However, Princess Cruises chose well!
These catacombs are part of the Vatican. I thought that the Vatican was the city within one part of Rome but I learnt that there are many parcels of land within (and beyond?) Rome which belong to the Vatican.
We arrived, were given our ticket, met our elderly British guide and descended into the warren of tunnels.
Callixtus was a Deacon who became the Pope (217-22) . There are nine Popes buried in a chamber called the Crypt of Popes.
It's a vast catacomb with miles of tunnels and it's over many levels ---although some of them are not open to the public. There are some really ancient frescoes which relate to Biblical stories.
Would I go there again? Yes! Like a shot!
Read more: http://forum.virtualtourist.com/forum-51-1-Travel-Italy-1-forum.html#ixzz1xH2NiNsA
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 visited San Sebastian church after visiting the catacombs of Callistus but we just saw the church here as there was a mass taking place and they didn’t allow tours at the catacombs. The church was built in 13th century on ancient remains but it was rebuilt in 1933. We stayed for a while at the back seats trying not to disturb the people that were there for the mass.
There used to be four floors of catacombs. San Sebastian catacomb was one of the smallest Christian cemeteries in the general area.
The catacombs are open 9.00-12.00 and 14.00-17.00 daily except Sunday)
the entrance fee is 7 euro that includes a tour with a guide.
The catacombs of Rome are the places were early Christians were buried (but also jewish and others) here between 1st and 5th century AD. It seem the soft rock under the ground (known as tuff) was perfect for tunneling. Not a nice place for people that are claustrophobic though all the others will enjoy a great place full of history!
There are about 60 ancient catacombs all over Rome but only 5 of them are open to the public. We decided to visit the most famous catacombs and that is the Catacombs of St Calixtus. We bought the tickets at the entrance and then they asked us what was our language, usually, they put you in a group with a guide that speaks this language (Italian and English, I’m not sure about other languages though). The tour guide was very helpful and gave us all the info we needed about the place. The tour lasted about 40’ and we were the only ones inside so it was a private tour for free :)
Unfortunately, they don’t allow photography inside so I just have pics from the general area and some scetches outside the catacombs that give you an idea how these underground burial chambers were.
Once inside we didn’t see any bones(it seems everything is removed) but don’t get disappointed that it’s a rip off because it’s not just slots carved into walls as many people describe! You can also see a lot of ancient drawings, letters, sacramental chapels of the 3rd century and learn a lot of things about the process. The burial niches were smaller than we were expected but that’s normal because the people were much shorter some centuries before. The catacombs are in different layers, a huge intricate network of passages(12km long!) that were hosting about 170,000 burials! Some of burials were for important people like the popes but also the martyr Santa Cecilia (there’s a copy of her statue here as her bones are in Trastevere).
The catacombs are open 9.00-12.00 and 14.00-17.00 daily except Wednesday).
The entrance fee is 8euro (5e reduced price)
Visting one of the 2 catacombs along the Appian Way is a must. We toured the Catacombs of San Sebastiano.
The tour took approximately 45 minutes and cost about 7 euros apiece. We had an English speaking guide and spent almost the entire time underground in the catacombs winding our way through well-lit paths.
The Catacombs are underground burial chambers where many christians were buried. The bodies (at least where the tour goes through) have been removed and relocated; however, you can see burial niches, sarcophagi, and ancient graphiti and drawings. In San Sebastiano, there was also a small underground christian alter where services were held during times of christian persecution. Supposedly, the bodies of Saints Peter and Paul were also kept here for a while.
I would be wary about taking this tour if you are claustrophobic and it is not appropriate for baby strollers.
This church is not what it seems. Because below the church there are catacombs. Rome is built in layers over the centuries and streetlevel today is much higher than it was before. This church is built upon another church. Which you would now consider catacombs. But wait, below that lower church is a Roman house!
This tip is about the newest church, dating from the 12th century A.D. You can find a load of information about it in the link below.
What struck me about the church is that it feels real. Not touristy. There is a wall painting of St. Paul with a square halo. This is very unusual. Usually these are round. But square means 'alive'.
On a practical note: on entering the courtyard in front of the church, there is a toilet on your right hand side. Might just come in handy!
A big crowd puller are the Catacombs of San Callisto(Callixtus). The catacombs house the crypts and tombs of 47 Christian martyrs, known by name plus popes and reputedly the crypt of Saint Cecelia.
Open April - October:- 0830 -1200/1440-1730....November - March:-0830 - 1200/1430-1700
Closed every Wednesday.
If you are interested in the history of Rome and its place in the history of Europe as a whole, you can’t skip the catacombs. Prior to Charlemagne and Constantine, the government of Rome persecuted those who chose not to practice the religion of the state. Early Christians were one of these groups (which eventually gained enough following and power to take over the Empire). The Christians were forced to practice their faith in hiding, literally underground.
The catacombs are not just tombs, as many believe. These intricate tunnels were built to include chapels, meeting areas, dining rooms and places to sleep. Today, you can tour the various catacombs around the city.
We bought a ticket (5 euro) into the catacombs and scheduled an English speaking tour (there were numerous languages offered). After climbing down a narrow staircase of approximately 60 feet and walked single-file through the tunnels below. This catacomb was built in the 2nd century and covers and area of about 90 acres, with a network of galleries about 12 miles long, in four levels.
The tour itself lasted about an hour (and was a nice, cool break from the August heat). It was fascinating. I would highly suggest one of these tours to anyone who enjoys history, religious or otherwise.
Warning: Do not go in if you are claustrophobic. My mother freaked out and knocked over a young couple on her way up the stairs at the end of the tour
I had queued for ages and then finally was allowed in the catacombs. It was one of the most haunting things I had ever done in my life. At the time Pope John Paul II (God rest his soul) had just passed away. His tomb lay there recently sealed with lillys lying upon it. Two nuns both from different places knelt weeping whilst other people just walked on. After seeing that I started to well up but didn't let it become visable. The catacombs are an enthrawling place, you must go.
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.
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