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Catacombs & Underground Rome

Highlights: Basilica San Clemente, Basilica Ss. Giovanni e Paolo, Catacombs

Transport: Transport provided between sites

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deep into over 2000 years of Rome...

About your tour

The Underground Rome Tour gives a fascinating insight into one of the most mysterious elements of Rome's historical heritage, what lies under your feet.  There is essentially a hidden world to discover, as for centuries buildings were built on top of each other, with the whole city essentially sitting on ancient foundations.

Lying at times up to 12 meters (36 feet) below the modern city, much of ancient Rome is still being excavated, however, various sites have been exposed to us and offer an extraordinary indication to the city’s multifarious layers. ItalyWithUs offers you the opportunity to take a look at a side of Rome that was almost consigned to history with their guided tour of the Catacombs & Underground Rome, which will take you on a journey to the eternal city's most celebrated subterranean sites on your Guided Tours of Rome.

It is sometimes all the more enjoyable to weave through these underground alleyways in a small group.  It is both romantic and intriguing to see very much in real terms how everyday and wealthy Romans lived there lives, and much of the information to be found underground has radically changed the historiography of this great city. 

The underground Rome tour begins with a visit to the subterranean levels of San Clemente Basilica, an early medieval church built on the remains of a 1st century Mithraic temple and Roman domus. After exploring the two churches that sit on top of these ruins, one of which contains the earliest example of written Italian volgare, we wind through the streets of the Celian neighborhood past the impressive Basilica of Ss. Quattro Coronati, regarded by many as the most beautiful Medieval structure in Rome, making our way up the hill to the church of Ss. Giovanni e Paolo. Here we will visit a series of middle-class 3rd century urban dwellings. The ancient wall coverings here are extremely well-preserved. We will also discover how these ancient sites were transformed during the Middle Ages into early Christian churches.

After this we shall take an excursion to the catacombs of Sant’Agnese, on the Via Nomentana. This underground Roman cemetery offers an unrivalled glimpse into this beguiling and hidden world. Discovered in 1865, these are some of the best-preserved catacombs in Rome and offer a quiet atmosphere that remains unhampered by tourism, making it one of the most enjoyable Catacomb Tours available! We will also experience the numinous atmosphere of one of the earliest Christian spaces in Rome, the Basilica of Sant’Agnese itself, and also the 4th century cylindrical church of Santa Costanza - originally built as a mausoleum for the Emperor Constantine’s daughter. This building, once entirely covered with marble and ornamented with mosaics, is among the finest examples of the architecture of late Roman antiquity...

Notes: We may also visit the church of Ss. Quattro Coronati depending on the interests of the clients and time availability. Appointments to the special sites on this tour are included in the price. An extended 4 hour version of this itinerary includes a visit to neighboring House Churches such as San Martino ai Monti, Santa Prassede, Santa Pudenzia and San Vitale all with nave excavations (scavi) and crypts.

Once you have completed this extensive and entertaining tour you will have a much firmer grasp of the history you see above ground.  Remember that even the magnificent Colosseum was built on the foundations of earlier Rome, both physically and philosophically, so you can never really understand the former without taking a peak into the history of the latter.

Top tour highlights

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    Highlight 1

    Basilica San Clemente

    The Basilica of Saint Clement is a minor basilica, and is in fact three layers built one above the other. The present building was completed during the middle ages, below is a 4th century basilica, and the original layer was the basement of the house of a nobleman, and briefly served as a church during the 1st century.

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    Highlight 2

    Basilica Ss. Giovanni e Paolo

    Located on the Caelian Hill, the Basilica of Saints John and Paul (Ss. Giovanni e Paolo) was built in 398 by Senator Pammachius and dedicated to two Roman soldiers, John and Paul, who were martyred by the emperor Julian in 362.

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    Highlight 3

    Sant'Agnese in Agone

    Sant'Agnese in Agone is a 17th century Baroque church that faces onto Piazza Navona, which is the site where the early Christian Saint Agnes was martyred in the ancient Stadium of Domitian.

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