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Catacombs and vatavombs of the Vatican - same ?.

Bournemouth, United...
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Catacombs and vatavombs of the Vatican - same ?.

Hi

I am visiting Rome in March. We have already seen the Vatican museum, and Sistine. This time we would like to go to the dome and the Catacombs of the Vatican. I am a bit muddled as to whether vatacombs and Catacombs are different , or if so can we access them with same ticket. Also where does one get access to them. Many thanks.

pittsburgh
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1. Re: Catacombs and vatavombs of the Vatican - same ?.

I don't know what a vatacomb is. There is the excavations under St. Peters called the "scavi" and then there are the catacombs outside the city but they are not the same. For information on the catacombs of Rome just do a google search. For the scavi tour you must book months in advance as they only allow about 200 people inside per day.

Catacombs of St. Callixtus, Catacombs of St. Domitilla and Catacombs of St. Sebastian are the main ones outside the city. You get to them by bus and book tours onsite.

Donna

Brussels, Belgium
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2. Re: Catacombs and vatavombs of the Vatican - same ?.

My guess is that you have read an article in which someone thought they were being clever and funny by condensing "Vatican catacombs" (presumably the recently restored "Priscilla catacombs") into Vatacombs.

In any case, what you actually want to visit is the Dome of St. Peters, which requires a specific ticket (€7 for elevator, cheaper for stairs), see saintpetersbasilica.org/touristinfo.htm and the Vatican "grottoes"/ necropolis (same page, below the item on the dome), referred to as the "scavi" or excavations, which indeed require a separate ticket: vatican.va/roman_curia/institutions_connecte…

Sydney, Australia
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3. Re: Catacombs and vatavombs of the Vatican - same ?.

Or V and C are next to each other on the keyboard

Le Marche, Italy
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4. Re: Catacombs and vatavombs of the Vatican - same ?.

There is a necropolis under St. Peter's Basilica, where St. Peter was presumably buried. It's officially called the Vatican Necropolis, although most tourists call it the "scavi". ("Scavi" in Italian means "excavations", meaning even the excavation for the foundation of a modern building, so the term is meaningless to an Italian as a description of the necropolis.) This necropolis is not a catacomb at all, but a pagan above-ground cemetery, which ended up mostly buried when the top of the Vatican Hill was leveled to construct the first basilica, in the 4th century. (Some tombs were lopped off at the new ground level, to make the land perfectly level.) At the time of St. Peter's death, there were no Christian cemeteries in Rome, because there were very few Christians. There are some very beautiful painted pagan tombs in this necropolis, and you see the presumed original tomb of the apostle (which is now empty). Presumably, the body of St. Peter was buried a little distance away; a body was found in a niche a bit higher up, and this is supposed to be that of St, Peter. The tour ends in the Vatican crypt, where you are shown a light in front of the presumed new burial spot. I've used "presumed" a lot, as there's no proof of these things, although there's pretty good circumstantial evidence. I've taken the tour twice, and both times the guides were careful to specify that there's no proof, but that on balance the evidence is good.

The catacombs were underground Christian cemeteries, with multilevel tunnels carved out of the soft tufa rock. They were not used as hiding places or places of worship (although some of the more important tombs have adjacent chapels). The Christians used these undergound tombs because they were cheaper. There were also Jewish catacombs in Rome, and some pagans were also buried in catacombs. Some of the catacombs are well known because well-known saints and popes were once buried there. (Sts. Peter and Paul were moved temporarily to the San Sebastiano catacomb during an invasion of Rome, and it's presumed that St. Peter was buried in his new tomb after this.)

There are five Christian catacombs in Rome that are regularly open to the public. In addition, there are some Jewish catacombs that are open to scholars or on special occasions. One of these is being prepared for an eventual opening to regular visits. In many ways, the two catacombs north of the city center (Priscilla and St. Agnes) are more interesting than the three south of the ancient city, mentioned by DBabe.

The Priscilla catacomb has a very interesting 4th century chapel with frescoes showing Biblical scenes. The St. Agnes catacomb is part of a complex that has one of the few intact ancient Roman buildings, the beautiful 4th century Church of Santa Costanza. Here is a previous topic where I describe each catacomb in more detail:

tripadvisor.com/…52756440

Obviously the catacombs are entirely different from the Vatican Necropolis; it would depend on your interests which you should visit. All of them have their own guided tours, and you can't visit them on your own or with an outside tour guide. For the Vatican Necropolis, you should reserve a spot well in advance, as entries are very limited. For the catacombs, you just show up and wait for a tour to start in your language. The catacomb of San Callisto is the best known, although, in my opinion, far from the most interesting, so the groups tend to be large and the wait may be a bit long. The others are less visited; on some of our tours to St. Agnes and the Priscilla catacomb, we practically had a private tour.

Romans didn't allow burials within the city limits; the Vatican Necropolis and all the catacombs are outside the original city limits. The Vatican Necropolis is near the touristic center of the present city. The St. Agnes Catacomb is very easily reached from Termini station. The other catacombs are a bit more complicated to reach, but none is really very far from the center of the city, nor difficult to reach.

Bournemouth, United...
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5. Re: Catacombs and vatavombs of the Vatican - same ?.

Thank you all for such detailed and very helpful information.

happy new year to all.

Manchester, United...
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6. Re: Catacombs and vatavombs of the Vatican - same ?.

Ive just done the scavi and the dome. Currently sat on top of the Vatican at the bottom of the dome. Both were amazing. Its €5 to see the dome if you walk up the stairs. Ill warn you its a lot of stairs though.

Passo Corese, Italy
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7. Re: Catacombs and vatavombs of the Vatican - same ?.

@ dbabe: these catacombs (the one of Domitilla, that of S. Callixtus, the other of S. Sebastian) are NOT located outside the city - quite the contrary!

Also, there's another one - the catacombs of S. Agnese - in the Trieste district, which can be reached via the Metro B1 line (take the B line to "Conca d'Oro" and get off at "S. Agnese/Annibaliano"). Another catacomb worthy of note is the one at S. Pancrazio, in the Monteverde vecchio district (located within villa Pamphili, beyond the Janiculum).

Le Marche, Italy
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8. Re: Catacombs and vatavombs of the Vatican - same ?.

I don't believe the catacomb of San Pancrazio has regular visiting hours. According to 060608.it (the Rome tourist office), it's closed for restoration. There are a number of other catacombs, including Jewish catacombs, that can be seen by special arrangement.

I had mentioned Sant'Agnese above, along with the Priscilla catacomb. (The Priscilla and Domitilla catacombs are not named after saints; they were wealthy Roman women who sold or lent land for the use of the Christian burials.) Sant'Agnese is the only catacomb to grow up around the tomb of a martyr, Saint Agnes. The others that are named after saints started out as simple burial places and became associated later with saints who were buried there.

Bournemouth, United...
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9. Re: Catacombs and vatavombs of the Vatican - same ?.

Thank you all again.

Bournemouth, United...
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10. Re: Catacombs and vatavombs of the Vatican - same ?.

Hi again

You all seem so knowledgeable on this topic- its appreciated.

I know there are catacombs along the Appian way. Are any of the above described catacombs situated there? Our time in Rome is limited and we want to visit as well as the Scavi (if possible) a catacomb which is really atmospheric. - maybe they all are!!