Best time to visit Rome

Roman Catacombs Offseason in Rome

A part of Rome's dark history lies deep underground in its catacombs and crypts

Best time: November–April

Roman Catacombs Offseason

Rome's catacombs were an invaluable refuge for the first Christians who used them to hide from their persecutors. There they secretly held masses and buried the dead. Times have changed, and modern Christians may pray in majestic towering churches. However, the catacombs are still there, hidden deep underground, and contain hundreds of thousands of burial tombs—many of which hold the ashes of the first saints and martyrs. ​Crypt and catacomb tours offer some insight into this epic part of Roman history which is engraved on the walls. A fascinating feature of these tunnels is their stable temperature both in summer and winter. During winter though the tunnels are less crowded so it's better to pick low season from November to April for your visit.

Practical info

When can one visit Rome's catacombs?

The catacombs are accessible throughout the year but the peak season is from May to October. The most favorable time is from November to April, which is regarded as the off-season. During this time, the catacombs are less congested, and the experience is intimate. The temperature remains stable all year round, making it suitable for a wintry visit. Show more

What are the locations of the popular catacombs in Rome?

The Catacombs of San Callisto, Catacombs of San Sebastiano and Catacombs of Priscilla are the most well-known underground burial sites in Rome. They are widely recognized for their elaborate artistry, intriguing histories, and association with pioneers and saints of the early Christian Church. All three catacombs are situated along the Appian Way and can be easily accessed by public transportation. Show more

What types of burial spots are present in Rome's catacombs?

The catacombs in Rome comprise numerous burial tombs that mostly preserve the remains of early Christians that held secret mass and burial. The burial niches are usually small and rectangular, carved into the walls with some adorned with frescoes or inscriptions. There are also larger family tombs with multiple niches stacked on top of each other. The most significant tombs house the remains of martyrs and visionary saints for their noble sacrifice and faith. Show more

What were the functions of Rome's catacombs for the first Christians?

For the first Christians, the catacombs provided both a place for refuge and a hideaway where they could conduct secret masses and evade persecution. Additionally, they constituted burial grounds for the dead since, until the fourth century, interment outside the city was illegal. The rock chambers and tombs were embellished with frescoes, icons and inscriptions that depicted biblical themes, rendering them a form of early religious artwork. As such, the catacombs are important in the growth and history of Christianity. Show more

Are there accessibility options for persons with physical disabilities?

The catacombs in Rome are mostly inaccessible to persons with physical disabilities. Visitors with mobility impairment may want to avoid touring the catacombs. Narrow passageways and staircases appear to be the primary challenges. However, some of the catacombs have wheelchair-friendly tours, but these are limited. Tourists of good mobility should have the ability to walk long distances and stoop down to visit most of Rome's catacombs. Show more

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin