Rome has over forty different catacombe sites encorporating Pageans, Jewish and Chrsitian burials of which the latter account for the majority. The phenomian of the rome catacombes originates from two main factors. The first of these is that ancient roman law forbid burial within the walls of the city and many early christians were amoung the poorest echelons of society and could not afford land for burial sites. Fortunately the volcanic rock under rome called tufo is soft and hardens when exposed to air for a long time making it ideal for tunneling.

Rome Catacombs

The Chirstian catacombs of rome are of particular importance for undersatnding early christianity as they contain early examples of christian art in the form of frescos and sculptures. This paleochristian art is full of symbolism and is heavy influenced by pegan classical graeco-roman style. Comon objects depicted are; peacocks (Symbol of enternal life) anchors (hope in jesus) and doves (peace and happiness).

Several of the catacombes open to the public are located along the Via Appia which begins at Porta San Sebastiano and was the ‘queen’ of ancient roman roads stretching south east across italy to the coast at Brindisi. The 3 catacombes open to the public along the Via Appia are; Catacombs of St. Callixtus (Catacombe di San Callisto), Catacombs of St. Domitilla (Catacombe di San Domitilla) and Catacombs of St. Sebastian (Catacombe di San Sebastiano). These can be reached by getting 118 bus from outside the colosseum.

Of these the Catacomb of St. Callixtus are the largest with over 12 miles of tunnels covering 33 acres with five different levels and containing the remains of half a million christians. Of those buired here are 9 3rd century popes. The Catacomb opens from 9-12 and 2-5.30 and cost €6 for a 25 minute guided tour avalible in most languages. So if your looking for a different expereince whilist in Rome then the catacombs are deffinately worth visiting.

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