Catacomb of Callixtus

Rome, Italy

The Catacomb(s) of Callixtus is one of the Catacombs of Rome on the Appian Way, most notable for containing the Crypt of the Popes, which once contained the tombs of several popes from the 2nd to 4th centuries.

The Catacomb is believed to have been created by future Pope Callixtus I, then a deacon of Rome, under the direction of Pope Zephyrinus, enlarging pre-existing early Christian hypogea. Callixtus himself was entombed in the Catacomb of Calepodius on the Aurelian Way. The crypt fell into disuse and decay as the relics it contained were translated from the catacombs to the various churches of Rome; the final wave of translations from the crypt occurred under Pope Sergius II in the 9th century, primarily to San Silvestro in Capite, which unlike the Catacomb was within the Aurelian Walls. The Catacomb and Crypt were rediscovered in 1854.

The underground cemetery includes several areas. The area of the Popes is the most important and venerated crypt of the cemetery, called 'the little Vatican' as it was the official burial place of nine popes and, probably, of eight dignitaries of Rome's 3rd century Church. In the walls you can still see the original inscriptions, in Greek, of five popes. On four tombstones, near the name of the pope, there is the title of 'bishop', since the Pope was regarded as the head of the Church of Rome, and on two of them there is the Greek abbreviation of MPT for 'Martyr'.

Passing through imposing galleries full of loculi, we reach five small chambers, truly family tombs, commonly known as the cubicles of the Sacraments, and particularly important for their frescoes.

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Founded: 2nd century AD
Category: Cemeteries, mausoleums and burial places in Italy

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4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Victor Yee (5 months ago)
As a tourist, seeing the catacombs was a cool experience though not necessarily a unique one (there are similar catacombs elsewhere such as in Paris and Vienna). However, the network here is vast, spanning five underground levels and hundreds of acres. The atmosphere below is surprisingly pleasant -- the air was crisp and cool and the walkways were easy to navigate. I believe a tour guide is required to enter (I booked through a third party which also minimized wait time). Note that bodies along the tour route have been moved elsewhere; only the spaces where they used to be remain.
Ian McKenzie (6 months ago)
A fascinating tour. An opportunity to go through one of the catacombs where early Christians were buried, outside the old Roman walls. Much of the contents have either been moved, for protection or scavenged by grave robbers, in the past, there are still traces of art work and the burial chambers are clear to see. This location was the original burial place of Saint Cecilia. Tickets were €10 per person and tours are offered in at least four different languages. We were with the English group and our tour guide spoke the language well. He was knowledgeable on the subject and entertaining to listen to. Photographing is not allowed in the tombs themselves. A good tour experience to get an idea of this key period in Roman history.
Mark Jackson (7 months ago)
These catacombs are perfect to visit in the summer. The temperature underground is around 15°c, which is lovely after the heat of the summer in Rome. You don't need warm clothes, in the summer, but at cooler times of the year it would be wise. The guides are knowledgeable, and take tours in Italian, English, Spanish, French and German. While you can book online most ticket sites add a premium, and you may end up paying extra for the bus ride from central Rome, when if you have a travel card you have it covered already. Frequent buses run. From Roma Termini you change at the Collesium. Best price, just buy your tickets on arrival. It's cheaper than the online prices. You get to see the major crypts down to the second level. The lower levels are only open to archeologists and such researchers.
Daniel Campbell (8 months ago)
A really nice experience, especially on a really hot day. The tour guides are knowledgeable and have lots to talk about. The catacombs are way cooler than outside, maybe 60F or 15C inside, the tour guide recommended a jacket, but it wasn’t required for me. There are 5 languages for tours, Italian, English, German, Spanish, and French. Photos and videos aren’t allowed inside the catacombs. There is a bus stop super close to the catacombs which you can take. Overall it was a nice experience and I would recommend coming here in the hottest part of the day to try and escape the heat.
Brian Saylor (9 months ago)
An amazing experience. Going down and seeing how the Romans buried their dead especially the early Christians. It is also a bit refreshing on a hot day, as they are cooler than outside. Our guide did a wonderful job explaining how they were made and the symbols found inside.
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