The Catacombs of Rome are antique underground burial areas from the second to the fifth century and used by Christians and Jews. More than sixty catacombs cover hundreds of kilometers of underground passageways that hold thousands of tombs in Rome. Currently, only five of them are open to the public. The term catacomb, which signifies “next to the quarry,” comes from the first hollows used as a burial place. The burials of pagan, early Christian Roman citizens, and Jewish in the Catacombs of Rome started in the second century and finished in the fifth century.
Price for combined ticket to visit the Catacombs of Rome
- Adults € 8
- Children (less than 15) € 5
- Includes a guide in English
The reason for the Catacombs of Rome
The Christians did not accord with the pagan tradition of burning their dead bodies, for which logic to solve problems created from a lack of space and the high price of the land, they decided to make these vast underground cemeteries. The Catacombs of Rome own many secret passageways that form real labyrinths that are many kilometers long, along which lines of rectangular niches were dugout.
Roman law prevented the burial of the dead in the city’s interior, for which reason all of the catacombs were placed outside of the walls. These hidden and separated places underground constituted the perfect sanctuary in which the Christians could bury their own, easily using Christian symbols.
Catacombs of Rome
More than sixty catacombs cover hundreds of kilometers of underground passageways that hold thousands of tombs in Rome. Currently, only five of them are open to the public.
Catacombs of San Sebastiano
These 12 kilometer long catacombs owe their honor to San Sebastiano, a soldier who became a saint for converting to Christianity.
Monday-Saturday: 09:00-12:00 and 14:00-17:00 Location: Via Appia Antica,136, Rome
Catacombs of San Callisto
With a network of passageways over 20 kilometers in length, San Callisto’s tombs were the burial place of 16 cardinals and scores of Christian saints.
Thursday-Tuesday: 09:00-12:00 and 14:00-17:00 Location: Via Appia Antica,126, Rome
Catacombs of Priscilla
These contain some frescoes with great art history value, such as the Virgin Mary’s first representations.
Tuesday-Sunday: 09:00-12:00 and 14:00-17:00 Location: Via Salaria, 430, Rome
Catacombs of Sant’Agnese
After being a saint because of her Christian religion, Sant’Agnese was buried in the catacombs that bore her name afterward.
Everyday: 09:00-12:00 and 16:00-18:00 Location: Via Nomentana, 349, Rome
Catacombs of Domitilla
Found in 1593, these catacombs, which are longer than 15 kilometers in the distance, owe their honor to Vespasian’s granddaughter.
Wednesday-Monday: 09:00-12:00 and 14:00-17:00 Location: Via delle Sette Chiese, Rome
The end of persecutions
On approving the Edict of Milan in the year 313, Christians’ massacre stopped, and they could start to build churches and acquire land without fear of confiscation. Despite this, they remained to use the catacombs as graves until the 5th century. During the barbarian attack of Italy in the 8th century, many catacombs experienced continuous lootings. For that reason, the Popes created the remaining relics to be transferred to the city’s churches. After these transfers, some catacombs were left entirely and neglected for centuries.