Catacombs

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Private Christian Rome – Catacombs Tour

Rome - Palatine Hill
Rome - Catacombs  - detailRome - Catacombs  - interiorRome - Catacombs  - column

From: $116.40

 

TOUR DURATION

4 Hours

START TIME

09:00 AM & 02:00 PM

Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat

MEETING POINT

Pick-up at your hotel, more details at booking

Tour
Itinerary
Tour
Inclusions
Tour
Information

 

TOUR ITINERARY

Your private guide and driver will meet you at your hotel to take you on your fascinating tour highlighting the history of early Christians during the times of the Romans. The tour will begin after getting picked up at your hotel by your guide and driver, and will take you beyond the imposing Aurelian Walls and along the ancient Appian Way to visit one of the catacombs.

The Catacombs of Callisto are one of the biggest and most famous in Rome, dating as far back as the 2nd century. Its galleries, spreading over an area over 20 km large, contain the remains of thousands of Christians, several martyrs and sixteen popes. The walls of this catacomb are decorated with early Christian symbols and beautiful examples of the first religious representations.

If the Catacombs of Callisto are closed, then you will be visiting The Catacombs of San Sebastian instead. These were discovered after the First World War and contain over 100 000 remains spanning a complex 12 km long and spread out through three different levels.

On your way back to Rome, you will stop at the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls, considered one of the five great basilicas of Rome. The Basilica was founded by the Roman Emperor Constantine I and is, according to tradition, the burial place of Saint Paul the Apostle. After his execution and burial, Saint Paul’s followers erected a memorial called a “cella memoriae” over his grave. These types of memorials, built in the Byzantine style, were meant to celebrate the person to whom they were dedicated.

You will be returned to your hotel at the end of the tour.

TOUR INCLUSIONS

– Private car and driver at disposal (4 hours)

– Expert local guide at disposal (4 hours)

– Entrance fees at Catacombs of Callisto or San Sebastian

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

– Aurelian Walls

– Appian Way

– Catacombs of Callisto or San Sebastian

– Basilica Saint Paul Outside the Walls

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
– Confirmation will be received at time of booking

– Voucher and detailed operator information, including local emergency numbers will be received three weeks before the date of your tour.

– Adult pricing applies to all travelers.

– The dress code for men and women is strictly enforced in Churches. No shorts, bare shoulders or miniskirts.

Departure point:

Pick-up at your accommodation

Duration:
4 hours

Return details:
Drop-off at your accommodation

Grottaferrata & Abbey of San Nilo

Grottaferrata - Abbazia San Nilo - Exterior

Grottaferrata is located on the lower slopes of the Alban Hills in Castelli Romani. The city is renowned for the fascinating Abbey of Santa Maria di Grottaferrata, also known as the Abbey of San Nilo. It is the only Byzantine abbey to have survived on the slopes of the Alban Hills.

Grottaferrata is one of the symbolic villages in Christian history. In fact, the village served as shelter to several popes and important religious people. In 1004, San Nilo da Rossano settled in the village, living in the cave of Saint Agnes of Grottaferrata. After his death, the abbey was built to honor him. Pope Pius II ordered its renovation in 1492 while Pope Pius IX gave the monastery its independence in 1848.

Things to see

Miraculously, Grottaferrata did not get as damaged as the other villages of the Castelli Romani during the Second World War. The abbey can be found in the center of the village where we can admire its bell tower while inside we can be awed by a Byzantine icon of the Virgin Mary. This icon was placed in the middle of the masterpiece realized by Bernini.

Grottaferrata also boasts the ruins of a medieval fortress which was first mentioned in 1140. For lovers of the Middle Ages, the village is partially surrounded by ramparts which offer visitors a fantastic setting to take unforgettable pictures. The village is also composed of several villas which in the past belonged to rich aristocrats that came from Rome to take a break from city life.

The Catacombs of Grottaferrata, also knows as the Catacombs Ad Decimum, were an important archeological site. More than 800 tombs along with frescoes and sculpted sarcophagus were found, some dating back to the 5th century. A national archeological museum now exists inside the abbey of San Nilo with some of the items found on the site.

Catacombs

Rome - Catacombs  - detail
Rome - Catacombs  - interiorRome - Catacombs  - columnRome - Catacombs  - statue

The Eternal City boasts more than 40 different catacombs and no less than thousands of different tombs. During the first century, Christians did not have their own dedicated cemetery so they would bury their dead wherever they had a piece of land outside the walls of the city. When people began building catacombs, for practical reasons they erected them close to the main city roads such as Via Appia, Via Ostiensis or Via Tiburtina.

Only five catacombs are open to the public, some of them very well known. These are the Catacombs of Callixtus, the Catacombs of San Sebastian, the Catacombs of Santa Domitilla (near Via Appia) and the Catacombs of Priscilla (near Via Nomentana).

Things to see

The Catacombs of Callixtus are one of the biggest and most famous in Rome. They appeared during the second century and are located close to the small church of Domine Quo Vadis, on the Via Appia Antica. Several martyrs and many Christians were buried there, along with 16 popes. These catacombs were named after the deacon Callixtus who was in charge of the cemetery under Pope Zephyrinus. Later, the Catacombs of Callixtus became the official cemetery of the Church of Rome. All the tombs which compose it are spread over more than 20 kilometers. The pope area and the crypts are the most ancient parts of the Catacombs of Callixtus.

 

The Catacombs of San Sebastian were discovered after the First World War. Situated on three different levels, they are about 12 km long and could shelter more than 100 000 bodies. These catacombs were named after the martyr Saint Sebastian who was also buried here.

The Catacombs of Santa Domitilla are about 17 km long and were used until the 5th century. These catacombs are particular for the 50 000 children’s bones found during excavations.

Appian Way

Rome - Appian Way
Rome - Appian Way - Ruins

The Appian Way offers visitors a glimpse into the past of the ancient republic of Rome. Also known as the “Regina Viarum” (“Queen of the Roads”), its construction began in 312 B.C. The Appian Way was initially built with a military purpose but later became a great road in order to expand trade between Rome and the other provinces. Only two years after the start of its construction, road connected Rome to Capua in the province of Caserta in Campania.  When the Appian Way connected Rome to Brindisi in Apulia, it had reached about 600 kilometers in length and 4.15 meters in width. The post office noted an improvement to its services; it took only around 14 days to deliver mail from Rome to Brindisi. Thanks to the Appian Way, administration and tax collection also improved.

Things to see

The road is located in the south-eastern part of Rome and is lined with Roman monuments as well as Jewish and Christian graves that were built along the way. These funeral monuments were erected by important Roman families in order to grant them an eternal position in history. The Mausoleum of Caecilia Metella is one of the most famous monuments along this road. Caecilia Mettela belonged to a prominent Roman family, the daughter of the consul Quintus Metilus Creticus. She married Publius Licinius Crassus whose father was part of the First Triumvirate with Julius Caesar and Pompey the Great.

While walking along the ancient road, you can also discover the ruins of the Villa of Quintili. In 151 A.D. the Quintili brothers chose to build their villa on this great location because it offers a wonderful view of the Roman countryside. This villa served as a model for several painters across different time periods. The Appian Way is now a protected regional park spreading over 3500 hectares.