Explore the largest Christian catacombs in Rome.
The Catacombs of Saint Callixtus are not only the most famous of Rome’s Christian catacombs, but they’re also one of the oldest official cemeteries of the Church of Rome. Visit the tombs of popes, martyrs, and half a million Christians in this subterranean complex.
- Discover the Crypt of the Nine Popes, known as ‘the little Vatican’ of the cemetery.
- Marvel at the mosaics and frescoes covering the walls of the Crypt of St. Cecilia – the patron saint of music.
- Try to decode the carvings of early Christian symbols found on the walls and tombs – see if you can spot the phoenix.
Tickets & Prices
Enjoy a 45-minute guided tour of the catacombs and its highlights with an official live tour guide. You’ll delve deep into the history of the cemetery and learn about the period of Christian persecution in Rome, hear interesting stories about some of the occupants of the tombs, and discover the meaning behind the mystifying symbols etched into the stone.
Find out which ticket best suits your needs with this handy guide below.
- Guided Tour – 40-minute guided tour of the Catacombs.
- Panoramic Bus Transfer & Guided Tour – Get picked up from the city center and enjoy the views along the way with this direct return transfer ticket to the Catacombs. Includes a guided tour.
- Hop-on Hop-off Bus, Travel Card, & Guided Tour of St. Callixtus Catacombs – This ticket gives you 24-hour access to Hop-on Hop-off open buses (Vatican & Rome) and all forms of public transport within the Comune di Rome (urban, underground, and overground + Rome-Ostia train route in both directions). With entrance and a guided tour of the Catacombs included.
Standard Admission Fee and Concession Tickets
For Standard Tickets
- Reserve your ticket online. Simply choose the language you wish to hear the tour in, select the date of your visit and your ideal time slot, fill in your personal details, and receive a confirmation email.
- On the day of your visit, you’ll pay at the ticket office after showing confirmation of your reservation (either in printed or digital form). Both cash and all major cards are accepted.
- You’ll then wait at the flag of your language until called by your tour guide.
- Tours are conducted in Italian, English, Spanish, French, German, and Polish.
For Concession Tickets
With this ticket, you’ll experience the same booking process and guided tour as the standard admission ticket. Find out if you’re eligible for a concession ticket below.
This ticket is intended for:
- Children from ages 7 to 16.
- Students of archeology, architecture, art history, or cultural studies up to 25 years of age (with proof of eligibility).
- Priests, novices, or seminarians (with proof of eligibility).
- School groups.
This ticket also grants you the full experience provided by the standard admission ticket, and the booking process is also the same. Some individuals are eligible to enjoy a free admission ticket. Find out below if this applies to you.
This ticket is intended for:
- Children under the age of 7.
- Disabled visitors and their companions.
- Students from the Pontifical Institute of Christian Archeology
- Salesian brothers of Don Bosco, and sisters of Mary, Help of Christians
- Professors, teachers, and catechist teachers accompanying groups of 15 and over.
- Two complimentary tickets for groups of at least 35 people when paying the standard admission fee.
- Licensed tour guides (with proof of eligibility).
- Researchers who make a request to the Pontifical Commission of Sacred Archeology.
Catacombs of St. Callixtus: Guided Tour
Experience a 40-minute guided tour with a live guide with this immersive ticket. Discover the history behind this underground cemetery, and walk around the tombs of the early popes and martyrs buried here.
This ticket is very similar to the standard admission ticket. Buy this ticket if you want the option to pay for your ticket online and to have the flexibility of free cancellation.
- Choose the date and time slot that best suits you online. Enter your personal details and pay by credit/debit card, PayPal, or AliPay.
- The tickets will be sent to your email, which you can then print out or show directly from your smartphone.
- Arrive ten minutes before your intended tour. Show your ticket, and you’ll be directed to your guide.
- Free cancellation until 23:59 on the day before your visit.
- Guides are available in English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish.
- The catacombs are open every day except Wednesdays from 9:00 – 12:00 in the mornings and 14:00 – 17:00 in the afternoons. The ticket office closes at 16:50.
- Wheelchairs are not permitted within the catacombs, and those with severe mobility issues may encounter walking difficulties.
- It is forbidden to take pictures or videos inside the catacombs.
- Remember to bring something to cover up, as it’s chilly and humid down in the catacombs.
How to Get There
The Catacombs of St. Callixtus are 20-30 minutes from the city center, depending on the traffic.
The best way to reach the Appian Way and the catacombs is by bus. There are 2 options:
Stay on board for a few more minutes until the Fosse Ardeatine stop, and you’ll almost be opposite the back entrance to the catacombs. The gate is above you on the other side of the road and is open whenever the catacombs are.
The Fosse Ardeatine bus stop seen from the back entrance to the Catacombs of St. Callixtus
You can catch this bus from the Circo Massimo (the bus stop is around the corner on Viale delle Terme di Caracalla) or Colosseo metro stops (line B). You should get off at the stop at Catacombe San Callisto, and you’ll see the entrance to the catacombs.
You can also get there by bike. Bikes can be rented at the Circus Maximus or the beginning of the Appian Way. There are also bike tours that include a visit to the catacombs. If you arrive by bike, there is a bike parking area inside the complex to the right before you reach the ticket office.
Walking to the catacombs will take about 45 minutes. You can either leave from the Circo Massimo metro, take Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, and continue in a straight line for about 40 minutes until you reach the catacombs, or start from San Giovanni and follow the ancient walls to Porta San Sebastiano and the beginning of the Appian Way, then turn left. Sunday is the best day to walk when most of the Appian Way is closed to traffic.
When to Visit
The catacombs of Saint Callixtus are closed on Wednesdays. If you are only able to visit the catacombs on Wednesdays, the nearby Catacombs of Saint Sebastian are open every day.
What to Wear
Inside the catacombs, it’s 16°C / 60°F, even when it’s hot outside. Initially, it’s wonderfully cool, but it will get chilly if you don’t cover up. You should wear closed shoes and bring something to cover your shoulders and back. However, although this is a religious site managed by the Vatican, they don’t impose a dress code on visitors.
When you arrive, go first to the ticket office. If you have bought your ticket online, show them the booking, and you’ll receive a ticket. If you haven’t got your ticket already, you can buy them for the next available timeslot.
You cannot use your Roma Pass here.
Tourist passes are not valid here
The ticket includes a guided tour as it’s not possible to visit the catacombs without a guide. When you buy your ticket, you’ll be asked to select the language you would like. There are tours throughout the day in English, Italian, French, Spanish, and German.
You have to wait in front of the language of your tour just before the time on your ticket. There are regular announcements informing visitors when to line up for the next tour.
Line up next to the right language
When the gate in front of the flag is opened, a member of staff will tear off part of your ticket and invite you to enter.
The tour starts outside with an overview of the catacombs. The guide uses boards to explain how the catacombs were built, but if you aren’t at the front, it can be difficult to see.
The first part of the tour is explained outside
After the introduction, you enter the catacombs down a steep flight of steps. From this point, you cannot take photos or videos.
The Catacombs of Saint Callixtus are the biggest and most famous of the catacombs, so you can expect to find a lot of groups there at the same time.
Each group can have up to 50 people, and there will be groups in front and behind you, so the guides have to keep moving and won’t answer questions during the tour.
The guide uses a microphone, but the visitors do not have headsets, so you might find it difficult to follow everything that is being said. If you’re part of a large group, the guide might be inside a room talking, and some of the group is left outside, unable to see or hear.
The tour visits the Crypt of the Popes, leaders of the church in the 3rd century when Christians were persecuted in Rome. Other Roman martyrs were also buried here, like Saint Cecilia, whose statue is in one room, though their remains were moved into the city after Christianity was legalized.
Along the way, you’ll pass many corridors lined with tombs and see some of the larger cubiculum, family tombs of more wealthy residents, with wall paintings with Christian stories and motifs.
To enter the catacombs, you must be able to walk up and down steep steps and walk at a slow pace for 30 minutes.
With limited light underground, the visit may not be suitable for those with impaired vision.
The tour also isn’t recommended for anyone who suffers from claustrophobia. Although none of the tunnels are particularly small (most are about 1m wide), they are extensive. You won’t be able to see the exit, and the guide cannot leave the group to assist you outside, so be sure you are comfortable with this before the visit.
In the small complex, there are vending machines for coffee and snacks, water fountains, toilets, and areas for sitting in the shade while you wait for your tour to start. There’s also a gift shop selling rosaries, books, paintings, and postcards.
Inside the gift shop
The Appian Way is one of the most beautiful green areas in Rome, so it’s worth adding an hour or so to your visit to explore part of it. The way is well-signposted. Just follow the signs for Appia Antica after your tour.
Directions are easy to follow
A 20-minute walk will take you to some of Appia Antica’s most beautiful sites. If you go on a hot day, make sure to cover your head as there’s very little shade.
The Basilica of Saint Sebastian
There are other catacombs underneath the basilica, where the bodies of St. Peter and St. Paul were kept. Stop at the basilica to see the statue of St. Sebastian, the Roman soldier who was shot to death by arrows (a popular subject with Roman artists), and Bernini’s final statue.
The Basilica of St. Sebastian
The Stadium of Maxentius (Closed Mondays)
Many people don’t know that the Circus Maximus isn’t the only stadium remaining in Rome. This one was built on the private land of the emperor Maxentius and is much better preserved than the Circus Maximus. You can walk inside (entrance is free) and get lovely views of the Tomb of Cecilia Metella.
The Circus of Maxentius
The Tomb of Cecilia Metella (Closed Mondays)
The circular tomb of a Roman noblewoman was made into a fortress in the 12th century.
The Tomb of Cecilia Metella
Part of the Original Roman Road
Part of the original Roman road
In this same area, there are several places where you can stop for lunch. It’s best to book, especially on Mondays when several of them are closed.
There are many places to stop for lunch on the Appian Way
Did you Know That: 4 Interesting Facts
- Although only some areas are accessible to the general public, the whole complex of the catacombs spans five underground levels over an area of 90 acres.
- The reason the catacombs lie so far from the historic center is because of an Ancient Roman law that prohibited the burial of the dead inside the city for health reasons.
- The word ‘cemetery’ derives from ‘coemeterium’, the Greek for ‘dormitory’, as, for the Romans, the burial of the dead was a temporary ‘sleep’ while they waited for the final resurrection.
- The catacombs are located on the Appian Way, one of the earliest and most important Roman roads which are still in use today.
- The Catacombs of Saint Callixtus were founded in the middle of the 2nd century CE, shortly after the Christians started burying their dead underground, at a time when they were greatly persecuted by the Romans.
- Although probably started from family tombs, the burial grounds were open to everyone of the Christian faith and expanded over time.
- At the beginning of the 3rd century, the catacombs became the official cemetery of the Church of Rome. Pope Zephyrinus appointed the deacon Callixtus as their administrator. It’s from him that they get their name.
- Even after the end of Christian persecution, the cemetery stayed in use until the beginning of the 5th century, when Christians began to be buried in basilicas or above ground.
- They were subsequently abandoned and, by the late Middle Ages, even forgotten.
- They were rediscovered in 1854 by Italian archeologist Giovanni Battista de Rossi, considered the father of Christian archeology.
- In 1930 the Holy See entrusted the care of the catacombs to the Congregation of the Salesians of Don Bosco.
- Today, the Catacombs of Saint Callixtus are the most popular catacombs out of the five in Rome that are open to the public and are enjoyed by pilgrims and tourists alike.
You can get tickets to the Catacombs of St. Callixtus from the official site or at the desk office on arrival.
A total of 16 popes are buried in the Catacombs of St. Callixtus.
Which is the best catacomb is arguable. But the Catacombs of Callixtus are certainly the most famous and are also one of the oldest in the Church of Rome.
The catacombs are certainly worth seeing. They offer a unique experience and insight into the history of Rome and are the resting place of some of the greatest popes and martyrs.
Address: Catacombs of St. Callixtus, Via Appia Antica 110/126, 00179 Roma, Italy · view larger map