Catacombs of San Callisto (Saint Callistus/ Callixtus), Via Appia Antica

"Catacombs of San Callisto (Saint Callistus/ Callixtus), Via Appia Antica" submitted by RomeTour Editorial Team and last updated on Saturday 16th July 2011

Catacombs of San Callisto (Saint Callistus/ Callixtus), Via Appia Antica

Catacombs of San Callisto (Saint Callistus/ Callixtus) [Italian: Le Catacombe di San Callisto] is the biggest underground burial site in Rome, it is formed of several separate areas joined together by tunnels on four different levels, over a distance of 16 km. The Catacombs of San Callisto are the best known of the Roman catacombs and the first official underground burial site for early Christians, including many second- and third-century martyrs. It was probably Calixtus who was chiefly responsible for the Church becoming the legal owner of the cemeteries. Calixtus was appointed administrator of the cemetery which bears his name by pope Zephyrinus. In 217 he succeeded Zephyrinus as pope and five years later he died.

From Via Appia Regional Park through the Caffarella Valley, there are two sets of catacombs on the route, those of St. Callixtus (Callisto) and of St. Sebastian (Sebastiano), and a third set, those of Domitilla, is within walking distance.

On the right side of the road is the entrance to the Catacombs of San Callisto (Saint Callistus/ Callixtus), ever since the III century the most important Christian burial place of Rome that housed many tombs of popes and martyrs. The tunnels have been dug out on four different levels involv- ing an area of over 12,000 square metres. The main groups of tombs are in the "regions" of Callisto (Crypt of the popes) and of Santa Cecilia and the so- called crypts of Lucina.

The main cemetery is that of Callisto which one enters through the Chaoel of San Sebastiano and extends for 2 leagues 215 and is venerated because it houses the body of the sianted Martyr, many popes and Catholic athletes. From the underground chapel of S:Lorenzo one reaches the cemetery of the Roman matron S.Ciriaca. The other cemetery below the church takes its name from the saint, Agnese, and from San Cleopodio that of the ancient San Pancrazio.

The oldest part is the “Crypt of Lucina” a group of hypogea that occupy the sector closest to the via Appia, it dates to a time between the end of the second and the beginning of the third century A.D., with extensions until the end of the four th century. The crypt known as the “Cripta dei Papi”, also dates to this early period, the nine Popes that succeeded Callistus are buried here. From the end of the third century and the first half of the fourth the Caius-Eusebius area was created, so called because these Popes were laid to rest there. The later period, the second half of the fourth and the beginning of the fifth century A.D., saw the construction of the “di Sotere”, “liberian” and so-called “labyrinth” sectors, the latter having a particularly unruly layout.

Excavations have revealed five different levels of loculi, niches where the bodies, wrapped in sheets, were placed in tiers. The openings to the loculi were closed with slabs of marble, but these have long since disappeared, as have any artifacts of value. A major attraction is the papal crypt with the remains of several martyred early popes. Nearby, with its Byzantine frescoes, is the Cubiculum of St. Cecilia, whose body was discovered here by Pope Paschal I and moved to Santa Cecilia in Trastever. Other cubicles have frescoes and Christian symbols carved on the walls. In the crypt of St. Eusebius is a sarcophagus containing two mummified bodies.

There are three ways into the complex. The first is from the via Appia Antica and via Ardeatina crossroads; the second is on the right side of via Appia Antica, just before the Catacombe di S. Sebastiano; the third is on via delle Sette Chiese. The Catacombs of San Callisto (Saint Callistus/ Callixtus) is managed by: Pontificia Commissione di Archeologia Sacra.

Catacombs of San Callisto (Saint Callistus/ Callixtus) [Italian: Le Catacombe di San Callisto]
Via Appia Antica, 110/126
00179, Rome, Lazio, Italy
Zone: Quartiere Appio Latino/ Quartiere Appio Pignatelli / Quartiere Appio Pignatelli / Quartiere Tuscolano [South Rome (Roma sud)]
Catacombs of San Callisto (Saint Callistus/ Callixtus) is Shown By "Map K Zone" As "92"
Hours: The catacombs of St. Callixtus are open all year round, except on Christmas, New Year’s Day and at Easter. Visiting hours: 9.00 - 12.00, 14.00 - 17.00. Last admission 15 minutes before closing time.
Entrance: The price of admission is € 8.- full price; € 5.- reduced fee.
Tel.: 0039 - 06 - 513 01 51
Fax: 0039 - 06 - 513 01 567
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