These ancient catacombs, otherwise known as underground burial places, were a response to overcrowding and shortage of land. Kilometres and kilometres of tunnels underneath the city of Rome represent history, art and sculpture, especially within the faiths of Christianity and Judaism. These incredible discoveries can be viewed and experienced in the present-day.
Did you know? Those with early faith in Christianity and Judaism believed in burying the dead, while the pagan custom was to incinerate corpses. The Christian Catacombs, therefore, were secretly carved through volcanic rock and formed into tunnels, where Christians and Jews could build burial places within city limits, something that was forbidden in Roman law. The Catacombs were a secret – a secret so important and so significant that any divulging of information could significantly impact Christianity in Rome.
Did you know? In 380, Christianity became a state religion. The practice of catacomb burial declines, and the dead were increasingly buried within Church grounds. With the decline of catacomb burial, these ancient and historical sites were often robbed and sacked, as intruders sought valuables.
Until the 1500s the Christian catacombs were forgotten, and in 1578 they were accidentally rediscovered. Can you imagine the amazement these explorers must have experienced after finding themselves face-to-face with thousands upon thousands of 2nd century corpses? Over the next two-hundred years, catacombs continued to be discovered in and around Rome, and have since become an important monument in the early Christian Church.
Did you know? It is widely believed that the San Sebastian Catacombs are the first of their kind in Rome, and were the home to the remains of Saint Peter and Saint Paul for forty years. You can experience the wonder of these catacombs yourself. With narrow corridors and warren-like structures, visitors to the Catacombs can learn all about the role that these underground burial places played during the times of religion persecution.
Travel back in time some two thousand years and descend three levels into the earth. Take part in history and experience the fascinating, groundbreaking discovery that was made in the 1500s. The catacombs in Rome were not only significant to Christians in the 2nd century, they continue to hold importance and significance for travelers today.
Learn more about our tours of the Catacombs here.