Address: Via delle Sette Chiese, 282, 00147 Roma RM, Italy
The Domitilla Catacombs are located near the ancient Appian Way, just outside the city center of Rome.
The Basilica of the Holy Martyrs Nereus and Achilleus is an ancient basilica church in Rome. It was built over the Catacombs of Domitilla and is dedicated to two early Christian martyrs, Nereus and Achilleus. The church was originally built in the 4th century and was restored several times over the centuries. The present structure dates back to the 17th century. The frescoes in the basilica were painted by Giovanni Lanfranco in the 17th century and depict scenes from the Old and New Testaments. The frescoes are considered to be some of the finest examples of Baroque art in Rome.
Inside the enchanting Catacombs of Domitilla, you will find a treasure trove of wall paintings that offer a glimpse into various aspects of life and faith during ancient times. Biblical figures come to life on the walls, such as Jesus with the apostles, Noah's ark, and Daniel courageously facing the lions. The Virgin Mary with the child, Adam, Eve, Jonah, and the Good Shepherd are also portrayed, showcasing the spiritual beliefs and narratives of early Christianity. You will also see non-biblical figures including representations of Spring and Summer, and scenes featuring the legendary figure Orpheus. The paintings reflect the cultural fusion of pagan and Christian influences prevalent during that era.
The Catacombs of Domitilla were commissioned by the Domitilla family and were actively used as a burial site from the first to the fifth centuries AD. These catacombs, spanning an impressive 15 kilometers in distance, lie over 16 meters underground, approximately 2 kilometers south of the famous Appian Way.
Rediscovered in 1593 by the archaeologist Antonio Bosio, the catacombs comprise more than 26,000 tombs, each holding the remains of early Christians. Unlike other Roman catacombs, the Domitilla Catacombs still preserve the mortal remains of individuals, making them a unique and poignant site of remembrance.
Over the years, restoration efforts have been undertaken to preserve and enhance the catacombs. In 2017, restorers utilized laser technology to restore two rooms, allowing for a clearer view of the intricate frescoes adorning the walls. The restoration process involved the removal of layers of algae, smoke deposits, and a chalky substance, revealing the vibrant colors and intricate details of the frescoes. Only 12 out of approximately 70 rooms have been fully restored to date.
The Domitilla Catacombs are an underground burial site located in Rome.
The oldest parts of the catacombs date back to the 2nd century AD, but expansions took place until the 5th century AD.
Visitors will see underground burial chambers, ancient Christian art, and relics of early Christian martyrs.
Visitors are recommended to dress modestly and avoid wearing shorts or sleeveless tops out of respect for the religious significance of the site.
Unfortunately, due to the nature of the site, the catacombs are not easily accessible for people with mobility issues. However, there is a virtual reality tour available that can provide a similar experience.