The Catacombs of Domitilla

The Catacombs of Domitilla

With more than 17 km of tunnels, located on four different levels, for a total of 150,000 burials, the Catacombs of Domitilla are among the largest in Rome. They are also the only catacombs, among those open to the public, with an underground basilica still be visited today. Built at the end of the fourth century during the pontificate of Pope Damasus (366-384), the basilica was dedicated to the martyrs Nereus and Achilleus, two soldiers who were probably victims of the persecution of Diocletian (304 AD) and buried under the apsidal area, near the tomb of St. Petronilla.


In addition to the frescoes and ancient Christian symbols carved inside the cemetery, you will be impressed by the grandeur of the work of digging deep and you can admire the uniqueness of the work of those who was able to create these intricate underground places, as a result of the exact architectural techniques knowledge of the early centuries of the Common Era.


The Catacombs of Domitilla, discovered in 1593 by the first modern explorer of Christian cemeteries, Antonio Bosio, were built along the ancient Via Ardeatina on the site of the properties of the noble Flavia Domitilla, niece of Flavius Clemens, consul of 95, who had married a niece of the emperor Domitian (81-96), also called Flavia Domitilla. This part of the gens Flavia apparently had Christian sympathies, because we know from historical sources that Domitian had condemned to death Flavius Clemens for religious reasons and exiled to the island of Ponza his wife and his niece. Before being exiled, the niece of the consul gave her properties to the Christian community, where then the largest Christian underground cemetery of Rome would be built.


Another very ancient nucleus is the so-called Hypogeum of the Flavian, built at the end of the second century. A.D. as pagan private hypogeum. During the third century AD, Christian burials began to be decorated with scenes from the Holy Scriptures. Later, beside the Hypogeum of the Flavian was built a Triclinium, an room dedicated to the celebration of refrigeria, the funeral banquets in memory of the dead. Near the Triclinium also there is alse a funerary chapel known as Cubiculum of Cupid and Psyche.


We will complete the guided tour with the cubiculum of Veneranda, the arcosolio of the "Little Apostles" and the cubiculum of the grave-digger Diogenes.




duration 1,5 hours
type hypogeum
entrance ticket not included entrance ticket not included



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