Want to learn more about catacombs in Italy? Read on for facts and info on these ancient burial sites in Italy and find out which catacombs in Italy you should be visiting…
Italy is regarded as having some of the oldest surviving catacombs in the world. Catacombs were basically subterranean cemeteries that consisted of underground passages built in ancient times. Traditionally these passageways were built under cities because of which they have survived the test of time. Historical records indicate that the oldest surviving catacombs are situated in Rome under the San Sebastiano Fuori le Mura.
Many of the catacomb sites in Italy have now been opened for the public to see. Consisting of underground mazes and tunnels the catacombs serve as major tourist attractions. Some of the most popular catacombs of Italy are mentioned below:
Rome – Via Appia Antica
These catacombs are situated on the outside walls of Rome. This site is considered to be an ancient burial place for pagans as well as Christians. Up until the fifth century BC the Romans would prohibit burying the dead inside the walls of Rome. As a result burial chambers were created by digging into the tufa forming miles of tunnels. Thousands of burial niches can be found inside these Roman catacombs and there are also plenty of great examples of Christian art. Today visitors to Rome have a chance to take an escorted tour of these catacombs.
Catacombs of St. Callixtus
This particular site is considered to be the largest network of galleries created in the form of catacombs in Italy. The catacombs stretched for about 19 km and have been made more than 20 m under the ground. These catacombs are also categorized as the most popular of them all. Guided tours and tour buses are available to take visitors through these ancient burial grounds. Inside the network of galleries you will get a chance to view early Christian frescoes, sculptures, paintings as well as the crypt of the nine popes.
Catacombs of St. Domitilla
Also situated in the city of Rome these catacombs have a unique entrance through a church building that dates back to the fourth century. Visitors are taken in small groups through these catacombs. Not only do you get the chance to wonder at this ancient relic, but you would also get to view a second century fresco made on the theme of the Last Supper.
Catacombs of St. Sebastian
These catacombs consist of a total of 11 km of tunnels. However visitors are not allowed to explore the entire length of the tunnel rather they are given a short tour of a small portion of these catacombs. Inside the walls are decorated with early Christian graffiti and mosaics.
Rome – Via Salaria
St. Priscilla’s Catacombs and Catacombe di Priscilla are counted among the oldest surviving examples of ancient catacombs in Rome. It is estimated that these catacombs date back to the second century. These catacombs are situated at the exit of Rome towards the Salaria gate, towards the Adriatic Sea.