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.
The San Callisto and San Sebastiano catacombs are probably the most famous ones? Domitilla catacombs are located in the same area and are very worthy to be seen, too. You take metro line B, direction Laurentina, and get off at the Piramide stop (4th stop from Termini etc; http://www.metroroma.it/MetroRoma/HTML/EN). Then, you embark the bus line 118, direction Appia Antica to Via Appia Antica. Get off at the stop next to San Callisto. Enter the San Callisto gate and and go to the very end of the walkway, arriving at the San Callisto other entrance on a street almost parallel to Appia Antica. Turn right and follow the signs. Admision price is 5 euros to each catacomb site.
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
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.
Catacombs are complex networks of underground passages and rooms used for burial, and are found in many places around the Mediterranean, but the most famous and extensive are those of Rome. They lie outside the city walls, near main Roman road in places with suitable deposits of soft volcanic tufa, and date from the 1st to 5th centuries. The term catacomb, which derives from Greek meaning 'near the hollows', was first applied to the catacombs of St Sebastian around AD354, and was extended to the others in the 9th century.
We only had time to visit the catacombs of San Callisto on this trip, but they are a fine example, considered to be the most important and imposing of the approximately sixty catacombs of Rome. First investigated in 1849, over 20km have been explored so far, but still much more remains!! Built on five levels, and in use from the 1st to 4th centuries, this was the official burial place of the popes of Rome for most of the 3rd century.
You have to wait for a tour guide speaking your language, as you are not allowed to wander the catacombs on your own - as much for your safety as anything else as it would be very easy to get lost down there. The ticket costs €5.
We decided to visit the catacombs of San Callisto. To get there you take the metro to Colli Albani, then outside the metro station there is a bus, the 660, which you need to catch as well. 1 ticket is good for both, as is the 4 euro day ticket (get your 1 Euro metro ticket in advance if you don't have a day ticket)- be simple- get a day ticket!
The 660 bus take you to the Via Appica Antica - Its pretty obvious because its a cobbled road, and the bus stops here and turns round back to the metro station.
After you have gotten off the bus, turn right (it is signposted) for the catacombes. If you are hungry and thirsty there is a little cafe here, which is pretty cheap- 1.50 Euro for a nice icecream, drinks are about the same price. Also you can hire bikes, 1 Euro an hour. The catacombes are about a kilometre walk.
Walk up the Appica Antica and you will come to the church/catacombes of San Sabastiano. A little further on you leave the road and walk up the long path to the San Callisto Catacombes.
It is 5 Euros to get in, and outr guide was a Catholic Father from America. The guided tour is nice, but the whole area was very busy when we went, and I think that it was at time a little rushed because of this. There is a nice shop and drinks place at the entrance, drinks are cheap enough- 1 Euro for a Coke.
WARNINGS- Be aware that this is a church, so the dresscode *might* apply. Basically, be conservative. The usual sign is up, but I am unsure if it is enfoced. Also THEY CLOSE FOR AT LEAST 2 HOURS AT MIDDAY! Be aware- don't do the trip only to find them closed.
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!
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.
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
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.
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)
We visited the Catacomb of Domitila, situated on Via delle Sette Chiesse is one of the oldest and biggest. Contains paints on the walls and the subway church of Nereo y Aquileo. You will find there the mausoleo delll Fosse Ardeatine. Visits is guiaded on your own languages and taking pictures is forbidden, i found the photo on internet.
Visitamos las Catacombas de Domitila, situadas en la Via delle Sette Chiesse, una de las mas antiguas y grandes. Contiene pinturas en las paredes y en la iglesia subterranea de Nereo y Aquileo. Tambien encontraras el mausoleo dell Fosse Ardeatie. La visita es guiada en tu propia lengua y esta prohibido hacer fotos, la foto la busque en internet.
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 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.
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".