Here’s how to visit this important cemetery complex
Do you want to find out what to do in Italy during this period and in particular what to visit in Rome? This is the article you were looking for as Italian Traditions takes you to the discovery of the catacombs of San Callisto that are in Rome on the Via Appia. Here we explain what it is and its origins. We also provide you with all the useful information on how to reach this place and when it is possible to visit it.
The catacombs of San Calisto are the oldest cemetery and also one of the best preserved in the Via Appia area. Its foundation dates back to the 2nd century A.D. through the construction of some private Christian catacombs and a funeral area directly dependent on the church. Its name derives from that of the deacon appointed to administer this place from Pope S. Zefirino, or Callisto. Once he became Pope, he enlarged the funerary complex. Sixteen of the Roman pontiffs are buried here.
The cemetery complex
The site covers about 20 km of underground galleries divided over four levels. Fifty martyrs and sixteen pontiffs are buried inside. Through a modern staircase it is possible to access the part of the cemetery called the region of the Popes where the homonymous crypt is located. Adjacent to this is a crypt called Santa Cecilia where the tomb of the saint is located. The remains were removed in 821 by Pope Pasquale I. Here there is a gallery that gives access to the cubiculum of the Sacraments.
The crypt of the Popes
One of the most important places in the catacombs of San Callisto is certainly the Crypt of the Popes. Nine popes and eight members of the hierarchy of the church of Rome are buried here. On the walls you can see the original inscriptions in Greek of five pontiffs. These are :
Also on the wall located at the back of the room is the tomb of Sixtus II who was killed during the period of persecution by Valeriano.
Where they are and how to visit them
But that’s not all, to visit these places you can gain access from Via Appia Antica between the church of Quo Vadis and the Basilica of San Sebastiano. It can be reached by public transport or car. With the underground line A you can get to Piazza San Giovanni in Laterano and from here by bus 218 you can reach the area of the catacombs. With line B instead you can reach the Colosseum or Circo Massimo stops. From this point continue by bus 118 to your destination. In front of the church of Quo Vadis there are some car parks.
The entrance fee has a cost of 8euro for a whole ticket and 5euro for the reduced. Tickets can be purchased at the entrance or you can also book the visit and the holy mass through the website, by filling out a special form. The catacombs are open every day except Wednesday. Entry times are: from 9:00a.m. to 12:00p.m. and from 2:00p.m. to 6:00p.m. The last daily visit is scheduled fifteen minutes before closing.
Considering the many reasons of interest in what is one of the oldest and best preserved cemetery complexes today, a visit to the catacombs of San Callisto is definitely to be included in your next Roman itinerary