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Visiting the Catacombs of Rome: The Top 2

Visiting the Catacombs of Rome offers a captivating journey into the ancient world. These underground burial sites, known for their intricate network of tunnels and chambers, hold immense historical and cultural significance. Exploring the catacombs provides a unique opportunity to witness the early Christian art, architecture, and burial traditions, making it a must-visit destination for history enthusiasts and those seeking to delve into the rich heritage of Rome.

A brief history of the Catacombs of Rome and their Significance

Christianity, its start and how it flourished despite Roman oppression

Rome, the birthplace of Christianity, holds significant historical importance as the site where the first Christian communities flourished. As internal strife and poverty plagued the Roman Empire, a sense of hope became direly needed. The message of Christ offered solace and promised an afterlife, appealing especially to non-pagans such as slaves who sought liberation from their earthly hardships. This was the match that started a fire burning, which is still going strong even after 2 thousand years…even if the creation of a governing body (the Vatican for Catholics) has obscured the original message. But when visiting the Catacombs of Rome, its easy to forget all the rules of modern religion.

The Roman period witnessed a relentless wave of oppression and persecution, particularly towards religious groups such as Christians. However, it is intriguing to note that rather than diminishing, the Christian movement managed to not only survive but also thrive under these adverse circumstances. Faced with the constant threat of detection, Christians adopted covert practices and secret meetings to ensure their survival and developed a distinct set of rules and guidelines to govern their community. Thus fostering a sense of unity and resilience among their members.

Visiting the catacombs of Rome
The Catacombs of Rome

The Catacombs, a place of shelter and sanctuary

Contrary to their pagan countrymen, the Christians needed somewhere to bury their dead and would ultimately end up elaborating an underground network of tunnels to house all the bodies. These sites of early Christianity are today venerated as the cradle of the Christian faith.

The Catacombs would become a sacred sanctuary for Christians, becoming the final resting place for over half a million individuals over a span of three centuries. This hallowed ground witnessed a remarkable display of devotion as believers dug yet more tombs into the walls, continuing their elaborate burials by excavating deeper to create additional levels.

These underground burial sites were a sanctuary for early Christians, and many of the symbols used to identify them originated during this period. One such symbol is the fish, representing the belief in Jesus as the “fisher of men.” Another common motif found in catacomb artwork is the depiction of the good shepherd, symbolizing Jesus’s role as the protector and guide of his followers. These symbols are etched into the stone walls alongside the defunct.

Visiting the Catacombs of Rome

Catacombs of St. Callisto

Opening Hours:

  • The Catacombs of St. Callisto have entrances every 30 minutes, from 9am – 12pm and 2pm – 5pm
  • Please note that the catacombs are closed on Wednesdays as well as Christmas day, New Years day, Easter and for almost 1 month between January and February (exact dates change yearly)

Ticket Prices:

  • Admission to the catacombs is priced at €10
  • Discounts available for students, seniors, and children under 16
  • Book your ticket online

Visiting the catacombs of Rome: Directions for Public Transport

  • Bus 218 from San Giovanni Metro stop, getting off at Fosse Ardeatina.
  • Bus 660 from Arco Travertino Metro stop, getting off at Appia Pignatelli/Appia Antica.
  • Bus 118 from Circo Massimo Metro stop (direction Appia/Villa Dei Quintili) getting off at Catacombe di San Callisto
  • Bus 714 to the stop Navigatori. From here continue on foot for 1 km along Via 

Catacombs of St. Sebastian

Opening Hours: visiting the catacombs of rome

  • Mondays to Sundays: 10:00 – 17:00
  • Last Entrance at 16:30 – Closing at 17:00
  • Closing days: Dec. 25 (Christmas of the Lord), January 1 (New Year’s Day), Easter Day.  

Ticket Prices:

  • Admission to the catacombs is priced at €10
  • Discounts available for students, seniors, and children under 16
  • Book your ticket online

Visiting the catacombs of Rome: Directions for Public Transport and how to get to the catacombs

  • Bus 660 from Arco di travertino Metro Station- Line A, stopping at Basilica San Sebastiano;
  • Bus 118 from Colosseo or Circo Massimo Metro Station- Line B, stopping at Basilica San Sebastiano
  • Bus 218 from the San Giovanni Metro Station- Line A, get off at Fosse ardeatine, then walk 300 meters on Vicolo delle Sette Chiese

roman catacombs tours

Take a guided tour with a priest onsite. They wont let you go down underground without one!

Conclusion

Visiting the catacombs of Rome takes you back in time. Predating the construction of the first churches, these underground burial sites define the humble beginnings of what would eventually become one of the world’s major religions. Visiting the catacombs of Rome offers travelers and students a unique glimpse into the early Christian community and its enduring impact on global history.