There are plenty of amazing things to see in Rome, like the Colosseum, the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain and St. Peter’s Basilica to name just a few. The city’s beauty is astounding, with stunning historic buildings that draw in millions of tourists each year. What you may not know, is that hiding beneath the city’s surface, there is just as much to see in a secret underground world! Make sure you don’t miss out on exploring this eerie ancient history.
Home to some of the oldest underground burial sites in the world, the Roman Catacombs have existed since the 2nd century. The underground cemeteries were a solution to the lack of burial space that there was aboveground. For over 400 years, this practise continued, leading to at least 40 Catacombs being constructed.
Looking for where to start your underground adventure? Begin at the Catacombs of Domitilla, the oldest of them all. Descend below a 4th century church to discover the only Catacomb with an astonishing subterranean basilica. Unearth the mysteries of an abandoned underworld that contains the remains of an unbelievable 4,000,000 bodies!
The Basilica San Clemente is known as the ‘Lasagne Church’ thanks to its distinctive layers. The secret underground chambers were originally discovered by a clergyman. After hearing the sound of running water, he began to dig through the floor tiles, not knowing the wonders he was about to reveal. The incredible tomb reaches depths of 57-feet, with 3 mesmerising layers of history that have to be explored! Have you ever been to an underground church? Well venture deep inside and you can explore the remnants of an amazing 4th century model! Admire the foundations of a 2nd century Mithraic temple, before coming to the oldest part; an ancient Roman street from the 1st century.
The Capuchin Crypt and Museum, otherwise known as the bone chapel, is possibly the most memorable of all. A spectacular crypt made up of a selection of small chapels, all adorned with the bones of thousands of monks. Marvel at the extraordinary vertebrae chandeliers, skeletons draped in robes, and genuine skulls that are used as decoration for the underground resting place of up to 4,000 Capuchin monks. There really is nothing else like it!
A tour of the Catacombs, though somewhat creepy, will take your breath away, and should definitely be added to your ‘must-do’ list. Not all of the Catacombs are open to the public, so what lies inside still remains a mystery. We can only wonder what secrets they hold!
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