Keep in mind that if you want to learn more about the city, you need to check out 13 Interesting and funny facts about Rome you probably didn’t know.
But today we want to introduce you to the extraordinary catacombs of Rome, and if you’re like us and love Roman history, this is your place to visit. The catacombs are underground galleries where the Christians started burying their dead, but there are also burials of Jewishes and pagans.
They were used by Christians since they didn’t have their own cemeteries to bury their relatives. The cost of the buried underground was lower, and they didn’t agree with the pagan custom of incinerating the bodies.
The reason why the catacombs are located outside the city is that, at the time, the Roman law didn’t allow the burial of the deceased inside the walls of Rome.
After the Christians were no longer persecuted, they were allowed to bury above ground.
The catacombs have passageways, dating from the second to the fifth century, that become labyrinths. There are around 40 catacombs in the city, but only five are open to visitors.
These are the ones you can see:
St. Domitilla (Catacombe di San Domitilla)
This is one of the largest and the oldest underground cemetery in Rome and to get in you have to go through a 4th-century church.
In here you’ll see frescos and 4 levels of galleries that have around 150,000 bodies buried underground. It also has an underground Basilica open to pilgrims, which was built at the end of 4th century.
Source: Flickr/ jimforest
St. Callixtus (Catacombe di Callisto)
This is the biggest catacomb in Rome. The galleries are about 19 km long! Here you can see the crypt of nine popes, besides historical paintings and sculptures.
Source: Flickr/ Lawrence OP
St. Sebastian (Catacombe di San Sebastiano)
This one is named after St. Sebastian, a soldier who became a martyr for converting to Christianity, buried in this cemetery. Here were built two residential buildings known for their interior wall painting decorations.
In this catacomb, you can see frescos, stucco work, epigraphs, and mausoleums.
Source: Flickr/ Hemant Bedeka
St. Priscilla (Catacombs of Priscilla)
Want to see the first representation of the Virgin Mary? This is the right place. Besides, you can visit the galleries where the bodies were buried, the cubiculum of the veiled woman and the greek chapel.
This catacomb is known as The Queen of the Catacombs (Regina catacumbarum) because of the great number of martyrs buried in it.
St. Agnes (Catacombs of Sant’Agnese)
It’s named after the virgin and martyr Saint Agnes, who was persecuted because of her religion. The catacomb has three levels and is divided into four regions where you can see amazing epigraphic testimonies.
After a day of walking around and being a tourist, how about a nice dinner? Read Food that you need to try when in Rome and enjoy! Also, check What are the top tourist attractions in Rome, Italy? and choose what else you can do in the Italian capital.
Veditalia’s Catacombs of Rome tour is coming soon! In the meanwhile, we have a bunch of other tours in Rome that you can enjoy during your vacation. For example, how about signing up in the Rome by Night Walking Tour and discover the city?