Catacombs of Domitilla

Catacombs of Domitilla tickets and tours

Concealed deep down within the bedrock of the countryside just outside of Rome lie the Catacombs of Domitilla, the oldest of Rome's underground burial...

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The inside story

Concealed deep down within the bedrock of the countryside just outside of Rome lie the Catacombs of Domitilla, the oldest of Rome's underground burial networks. Actively used as a Christian cemetery from the second to the fifth century, the catacombs were rediscovered in 1593 by archaeologist Antonio Bosio. They spread out over 11 miles of underground caves and are laid out on four different levels, one on top of the other.

The land where the catacombs are found once belonged to noblewoman Flavia Domitilla, who happened to be related to emperor Vespasian (the builder of the Colosseum). After stating her beliefs in Christianity, she was exiled and sent to Ponza where she wound up dying. After her death, she was buried in a family mausoleum on the site of the catacombs where they were eventually named after her.

A visit to the catacombs begins with the 4th century Basilica that was built above the tombs of the two martyrs, Nereus and Achilleus. They were said to be two soldiers of the imperial guard who were killed for confessing their faith. In fact, the Catacomb of Domitilla is the only Roman catacombs that has an underground basilica open to the public.

Numerous frecoes and symbols of biblical figures and different scenes align the walls inside the catacomb, giving you an insight of the Faith of the first century Christians of Rome. For history lovers, you will come across The Last Supper, a piece of work dating back to the 2nd century. Similar to da Vinci's famous painting, it depicts Christ and his disciples.

Discover the cemetery consisting of 26,000 tombs and burial place of reportedly 150,000 bodies when it was in use. Although not all of the catacombs is accessible to the public, the Domitilla catacombs is the best preserved and the only one that still contains bones on display. Archaeologists claim that they may never know the full extent of catacombs since they haven't discovered the entirety of their passageways.

The catacombs are open every day of the week except Tuesday from 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM and then from 2:00 PM to 5:00 PM, with the last guided tour starting 30 minutes before the closure both in the morning and the afternoon. Several buses will bring you to within walking distance of the catacombs from Rome's city center or you can arrive by car.

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How to get there

Catacombs of Domitilla Via delle Sette Chiese, 282, 00147 Roma RM Rome
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