Where shall I start to tell.
First of all , the Catacombs were not originally
Christian. But there is a difference in perception
of death by the Christians and the Romans
who believed in Roman Gods.
Romans had a necropolis - city of the death ,
while christians got a cemetary.
That word comes from 'coemeteria' -
Second , those burrial places were not secret.
Imagen how much earth they have moved and
brought up to the surface secretly to dig
as much as 12 km of tunnels , 4 floors.
Why catacombs? Simple , when Rome
was at a high level of wealth if was tradition
that the aristocracy and high society got
burried in a luxurious grave. That had to be
outside the city walls since it was forbidden
to burry them inside the walls. Therefore
ground prices were rising. At one moment
the ground was much more expensive then
the marble stone or statue itself. Since
Christians didn't belong to the richest
cathegory of civilians , they had to go
These catacombs are named after Callixtus ,
a deacon who didn't gave the money but
managed the place. He later became pope.
(the other catacombs got the name of the owner.)
Nine popes have been burried here - 230-283.
But the word pope was first used on the grave
of deacon severus - 300 after christ.
A famous martyr burried here is Santa Cecilia -
a copy of the statue made of her is still in the
catacombs. Later her bones were moved to
a church in trastevere. We'll talk about her then.
If you got a good guide , it is nice to
get an impression of the first Christian
communities. You can get a taste of the
atmosphere down here when they used to
Imagine how it would look like ,
when they came down here they didn't bring
flowers , but oil for the hunderds of oil lambs.
It is so that they believed it was sacred ground
and that nobody would harrow them here.
Only ten procent of the graves haven't been
opened for relocation or a lot of them just
got opened by robbers.
I went to visit the Sebastian Catocomb, it's out of the usual city area, but it's worth a visit. It's very cold in there, but it is not air-conditioned. It's basically a tunnel pple build to bury dead pple and to hide pple. A good history u wud hear from the guided tours. The admission tickets are tied to the guided tours. No pictures to be taken in there though.
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.
I've never been in catacombs before, and thought it would be a unique side trip. Throughout the city, ancient graves lie, some open to the elements, carved in the rock underground.
Most now have buildings - churches - built above them - I imagine that was the plan - and although the ground wasn't "prepared" - no concrete poured, no coffins built, just slots carved into the walls of trenches dug deep down - there isn't quite as much damp unpleasantness as one might expect..
Not for the claustrophobic, though - I visited the Church of Sant'Agnese Fuori LeMura, and most of the paths are only wide enough to walk comfortably (basketball players need not bother entering - the ceiling's too low!)
It costs a small fee to join a guided tour every 30 minutes or so, and photographs weren't allowed, and although I usually obey such rules, I more often try to sneak a pic or two in - but a flash would have been necessary, making a secret photo not so secret, so I didn't try...
I've been to several of the Roman catacombs, on different trips and in different years, but continue to hold San Sebastiano as my favorite. Their lighting is spectacular, and though you might be disappointed if you expect to see bones, as in Paris, the bones are all gone, but the remnants of the shrines are still there, along with amazing frescoes in some of the burial chambers. All of the catacombs have different hours (for instance, San Sebastiano is closed on Sunday), and they don't stay open late, but I think they are definitely worth making the effort to get out of town and see.
If like us you needed a break from the traffic and noise the perfect solution is to go to the Catacombs. Most of the tour companies operate a bus to them and you'll enjoy the peace and quiet of the countryside! There are several but I recommend the St. Calixtus Catacombs, the first Christian cemetery in Rome. Some of the underground tombs here date back to the 3rd century AD. They include nine popes, St. Cecilia (the patron saint of music), and many other important Romans in the 12 miles of galleries below street level.
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 .
Visit the CONVENTO DEI CAPPUCCINI to see this chilling tribute to Death -- the skeletons of 4,000 monks (some whole, most dismantled into pieces!) have been used to decorate the interior of the convent's crypt. A plaque in the last room of the crypt reads: 'That which you are, we used to be. That which we are, you shall become.'
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.
Interesting to visit how and where they buried their families.
It's not allowed to take pics; this one shows the main entrance.
Bus: 714 (from Termini station).
The sarcophagus in the catacombs is a stone or marble coffin. It is decorated with sculptured reliefs and inscriptions.