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Which Catacombs in Rome are worth visiting?

Rome and its catacombs form a perfect setting for those who enjoy different tours. We have useful information for your trip to Italy! Which Catacombs in Rome are worth visiting?

Roma, Lacio - Catacombe di Marcellino e Pietro-Source-zon-it
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Which Catacombs in Rome are worth visiting?

Catacombs are underground tunnels that have been used for several centuries as burial sites. These constructions began to be made in the 2nd century and were completed in the 5th century, to house the bodies of pagans, Jews and early Christians. The word “catacomb”, which means “close to the void”, comes from the fact that the first excavations, for burials, were carried out outside the city center, close to the quarry. But after all, which Catacombs in Rome are worth visiting? Here at Your Travel to Italy with Ana Patricia you make the trip of your dreams!!! ALSO: see our “Accommodation in Italy – Tips for your holidays!”

Introduction

Christians did not like the pagan tradition of incinerating the bodies of the dead, so to solve the problem of lack of space and the high cost of land, they decided to create these vast underground cemeteries. In the catacombs there were many underground tunnels, forming authentic labyrinths, several kilometers long, and rows of rectangular niches. The bodies were wrapped in sheets and they placed them in these niches, which were then closed with marble slabs and, more often, with clay. The name of the deceased was carved on the headstone, accompanied by a Christian symbol. Also read How to use the subway in Rome?

These isolated and hidden places in the undergrounds have become the perfect refuge, where Christians could bury their loved ones, freely using their religious symbols. These are special, fascinating places that are able to intrigue and invite you to take a dip in the past. Most catacombs are located in Rome, where there are about sixty of them, while in Italy, catacombs were used mainly in the South, where the soil texture is more adherent and, at the same time, easier to excavate. Read also What are the main tourist monuments in Rome?

Which Catacombs in Rome are worth visiting?
Rome, Lacio – Catacombe Di San Sebastiano (Souce: Flick)

The Shrines

Initially, born as burial sites, they became martyrs’ sanctuaries and pilgrimage centers for Christians from all parts of the Empire. Nowadays, these long underground passages are very popular because they are rich in sculptures, frescoes and inscriptions, which testifies the habits and traditions of the early church. There are so many catacombs in Rome, but only five are open to the public and they are also the most beautiful, the most well-known and important to visit; these cemeteries are almost all, in the area of Appia Antica and Ardeatina.

In the catacombs, a very simple art has developed since the end of the second century, partly narrative and partly symbolic. The paintings, mosaics, reliefs of the sarcophagi and the minor arts evoke the stories of the Old and New Testaments, as if to present examples of salvation from the past for new converts. The symbolic art of the catacombs simply expresses some concepts that are difficult to explain. For example, to indicate Christ, a fish is depicted, to signify the peace of paradise the symbol is a dove, to express the firmness of faith, an anchor.

The Symbols

Symbols with different meanings were often engraved on the closing plates of the niches, and are often represented by a tool that refers to the work done in the life of the deceased. Some symbols, such as cups, breads, alludes and amphoras for funeral meals in honor of the deceased, the so-called ‘refrigerias’. Most symbols refer to eternal salvation, such as the dove, the palm, the peacock, the Phoenix and the lamb.

I have said many times that most of the catacombs are in Rome, shall we get to know more about the five most visited catacombs in the Eternal City?

1) Which Catacombs in Rome are worth visiting? CATACOMBS OF SAINT CALLIXTUS

We started from the Catacombs of Saint Callixtus, which are the most famous in the city and, inside the houses, have the tombs of many martyrs and sixteen popes, not to mention the impressive frescoes of the Christian era are represented. The visit is usually carried out in the Crypt of the Popes of the 3rd century, or in the place where there is the famous crypt of Saint Cecilia, with the frescoes of the 7th-8th century, the five cubicles of the Sacraments, and is adorned with important frescoes of the 3rd century, and the crypt of Pope Eusebius, from the 4th century.

They arose at the end of the second century, and were baptized by deacon St. Callixtus, who, at the beginning of the third century, was appointed by Pope St. Zephyrinus as administrator of the cemetery. When Callixtus became Pope, he enlarged the funeral complex and thus the catacombs of St. Callixtus became the official cemetery of the Church of Rome.

Which Catacombs in Rome are worth visiting?
Rome, Lacio – Catacombe Di San Callisto (Source: Flick)

2) Which Catacombs in Rome are worth visiting? CATACOMBS OF SAINT SEBASTIAN

Then we find the Catacombs of St Sebastian catacombs; it is twelve kilometers long and bears the name of St Sebastian, a soldier who was martyred for converting to Christianity. Along with the catacombs of Saint Callixtus, which are the best options to visit.

Once used as a pagan burial site, they were turned into a Christian necropolis towards the end of the second century, and were dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul. Tradition has it that their remains were hidden here, in a “cella memoriae” (in Latin it means ‘condemnation of memory’, a type of urn) the remains of the two saints. Only in the 4th century the catacombs took their current name, which derives from the name of the saint who was placed here after death.

Which Catacombs in Rome are worth visiting?
Rome, Lacio – Catacombe Di San Sebastiano (Source: Flick)

3) Which Catacombs in Rome are worth visiting? CATACOMBS OF DOMITILLA

Also worth visiting are the Catacombs of Domitilla, among the largest in Rome, originating from several excavations in the basement of Flaviano’s terrain, the Domitilla cemetery is named after a member of Gens, called Flavia, Flavia Domitilla. Here you can visit the basilica, built in the 4th century, called ‘Flaviana’, from the 2nd century, and part of the cemetery area has important frescoes from the 3rd and 4th centuries.

It is divided into three levels, with a total of about 15 km. Among the best works are Formai’s niche and the painting on the wall with Our Lady and the baby Jesus with the four magicians. Bakers and the mural painting of Madonna and Child with four Magi. They are the largest catacombs, the oldest and most impressive in the city.

Which Catacombs in Rome are worth visiting?
Rome, Lacio – Catacombe Di San Sebastiano (Source: Flick)

4) Which Catacombs in Rome are worth knowing? CATACOMBS OF MARCELLINUS AND PETER

Then you arrive at the catacombs of Marcellinus and Peter that are not so famous, despite the beauty, although the charm of the paintings comes first. The catacomb is believed to date from the 3rd century and reached its peak in the 4th century, coinciding with the city’s cemeteries. Peter was an exorcist and Marcellinus a priest.

The catacombs of Saints Marcellinus and Peter are decorated with biblical scenes and are among the greatest gifts of Rome. Honorius I (625-38) built a small basilica, with an underground arch. To accommodate the growing number of believers, he doubled the number of stairs leading to the Basilica and consecrated an altar above the two niches.

Which Catacombs in Rome are worth visiting?
Rome, Lacio – Catacombe Di Marcellino e Pietro (Source> Zon-it)

5) Which Catacombs in Rome are worth visiting? CATACOMBS DE SAINT AGNES

Finally, we visit the Catacombs of Saint Agnes, which are located on Via Nomentana, in the monumental complex of Saint Agnes Outside the Walls, in the modern quarter of Trieste. The monument consists of the Basilica of St Agnes Outside the Walls and the Mausoleum of Saint Costance, built to house the remains of Constantino and his sister Elena, his daughters, built around 350.

Under the Basilica, and in the surrounding area, galleries with a vast number of catacombs, discovered by chance, in 1865, extend, which is certainly before the placement of the remains of the Saint, as evidenced by the numerous inscriptions found. The cemetery is on three floors divided into four areas.

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Hotel I suggest near the Historic Center

If you are passionate about art and would like to stay in the center where you can move around walking, as well as having countless possibilities for places to have lunch / dinner or a snack, I advise you to stay in the historic center. Regions near the Trevi Fountain, the Coliseum, the Roman Forum, the Imperial Forum and the Villa Borghese, Piazza Spagna and Piazza Navona can be considered as “historic center”. These are the most expensive areas, but you will be close to everything, literally!

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Hotels that I suggest near the San Giovanni Region

For those who want to find cheaper alternatives in quiet areas, but at the same time close to the means of transport to the center, I suggest the region of San Giovanni or Monti (near the metro stations San Giovanni, Castro Pretorio and Circus Massimo) – which it is a more residential neighborhood; therefore, more economical and quiet! And with just 15 minutes by subway you will be in the center too!

I have two options for Hotels that I recommend, click on the links below and get to know each one. If you like the suggestion make your reservation and guarantee good prices;)

I have two options of B&B that I recommend, click on the links below and get to know each one. If you like the suggestion make your reservation and guarantee good prices;)

Hotels I suggest near Vatican City

An interesting area to stay and a little cheaper than the historic center is the Vatican area (Vatican Museums) which is very well connected with everything.

I have two options of B&B that I recommend, click on the links below and get to know each one. If you like the suggestion make your reservation and guarantee good prices;)

If you prefer a hotel, I have three options that I recommend, click on the links below and get to know each one. If you like the suggestion make your reservation and guarantee good prices;)

Hotel I suggest near Termini Station

For those who prefer to stay in neighborhoods that have good access to the rest of the city and at a better price, then you should choose accommodation in the surroundings of Termini Station (from where a dense network of public means of transport starts, serving both: the local people and tourists).

I have 3 good hotel suggestions in Termini, click on the links below and get to know each one. If you like the suggestion make your reservation and guarantee good prices;)

If you prefer B&B I have 2 good suggestions, click on the links below and get to know each one. If you like the suggestion make your reservation and guarantee good prices;)

Hotels that I suggest in Trastevere

For those who prefer to “taste” authentic and characteristic Rome, there is nothing better than booking a hotel in Trastevere (on the outskirts of the city’s historic river), full of typical Roman history and traditions, known for the tortuous streets of sampietrini stones and the centers medieval style housing.

The neighborhood is in the historic center and to the right of the Tevere River, in the midst of a spectacular landscape, where each visitor can observe the countless churches and squares (such as Santa Maria in Trastevere). In addition, this neighborhood offers several local restaurants and canteens for those who want to try typical Roman cuisine.

If you want to save a great option is the B&B, click on the links below and get to know each one. If you like the suggestion make your reservation and guarantee good prices;)

If you prefer a good hotel, I have two options that I really like, click on the links below and get to know each one. If you like the suggestion make your reservation and guarantee good prices;)


Conclusion

Which Catacombs in Rome are worth visiting? Strolling through the catacombs, gives you the opportunity to explore the underground tunnels of the city, either for simple curiosity, or for a more than special visit, where you can see the funeral remains in graves built many centuries ago. It is interesting to follow the dark and humid corridors, where there are, in addition to the niches, some inscriptions with the names of the dead. During a stay in Rome you cannot miss a visit to these sites with underground graves.

And if you feel insecure or have no time, and need help to organize your trip, do not hesitate to look for me! I will love to help you make your dream trip to Italy. And how can I do that? Continue reading this post until the end and you will understand how can we make your life and journey easier.

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