Crypts and Catacombs Tour - Dark Rome Reviews
Crypts and Catacombs Tour - Excellent Jul 08, 2011
This has to be one of the highlights of my trip to the Eternal city and that is hard to pin point particular highlights as the city is oozing with passion,culture,history and places which take your breath away weather it be the moment you walk up the stairs in the Colesseum and see the view of the arena to the peace and tranquility of St Peters. The Dark Rome tour of the Crypts and the Catacombs is a must for any traveller.
We were picked up in an air conditioned mini bus at Berbarani the guide met us at the fountain and after booking in with them we boarded the bus and set off to the Catacombs outside the city walls just off the famous Appian Way.
On the way to the Catcombs the guide gave us an excellent talk and told us the history of the Catacombs and there significance to the Christain faith.
Before you enter the Catacombs or after depending on your tour time have a look in the 4th Century Basilca on the surface, much altered over the years and dedicated to Saint Sebastian who was martyed and buried here in the late 3rd century.
If you visit the Capella delle Reliquie you'll find one of the arrows used to kill him and the colum he was tied too.On the other side of the church is a marble slab with what we are told have jesus's footprints in it.
The Catacombs you visit "Catacombs di San Sebastiano" were the first catacombs to be so called, the name dervies from the greek wordS "Kata" (near) "Kymbas" (Cavity) because they were located near to caves. As you enter the Catacombs you walk down steps which have not been replaced or touched since the 4th Century. The Air is cool and can be a welcome temperature change in the Rome Summer when temperatures reach 38 degrees. You are told that the catacombs came from the persecutuion of Christians during the reign of Vespasian and they provided a safe heaven for the remains of St Peter and St Paul and in later centuries became a pilgrimage site for thousands of Catholics and Christians.
The First Level of the Catacombs is almost completely destroyed but frescoes,stucco work and eppigraphs can be seen on the second levels. As you walk round the narrow walk ways you get a sense and can only imagine the work and effort but into creating these catacombs back in the 4th Century as you wander through and pass other tours within the catacombs you see perfectly preserved Mausoleums and a 3rd-4th Century plastered wall with hundreds of invocations to Peter and Paul, engraved by worshippers in the 3rd and 4th Centuries.
As you finish your tour you follow your guide to the surface where the light and the heat gives you a feeling of a spritual nature like god is touching you himself.
There is a lovely gift shop to view before getting back on your mini bus which then heads back down the Appian Way where your tour guide will point out and tell you historical stories and facts about the Appian way and buildings just off the famous road.
Your Next stop on the tour is Basilica Di San Clemente
This Fascinating Basilica provides a vivid glimpse into Romes Multilayered Past, A 12th Century Basilica built over a 4th Century Church which in turn was constructed over a 2nd century pagen tmeple and a 1st century Roman house. You may be wondering how far you go down but we are told that there are even more layers but they cant get to them as they risk bringing the church above down on top of them.
The reason why rome has so many layers and many still undiscovered and covered by the modern day Rome is back in ancient Rome landlords and property owners agreed that if or when the tiber floods they will reconstruct on top the the old buildings which were destroyed by flooding etc hence more levels being built on top and this place is a perfect example. The Basilca you enter first features an amazing mosaic from the 12th century, as you wonder through to the 4th Century church (basilica inferiore) was almost completely destroyed in 1084 by Norman invaders but some 11th Century Frescoes still remain and can be seen today. As you walk down to the next level you find yourself walking into an ancient lane leading to a Roman House and the Dark and atmospheric temple of Mithras which contains an alter depicting god killing a bull. Whats makes the lower level so eerrie is the sound of the subterranian river running through a Roman republic era drainage system.
As you leave the Basilica Di San Clemente you get a very tranquel feeling and imagine all the ancient Romans heading and walking these cobbles to go to Church and in one case going home to their Roman house.
As you board the bus your tour is nearing an end but you still have one location to visit which is next to the pick up point and this was my favourite although small the "Cheisa Di Santa Maria Della Concezione" also known as the Caphuchin Crypt or Cemetry.
There is nothin particularly special about this 17th Century Church but dip into the Church and you will be gob smacked, Everything from Picture frames to the light fittings are made from Human bones. Between 1528 and 1870 the resident Capuchin monks used the bones of 4000 of their departed brothers to create the mesmirising and Macabre dsiplay. There's an Arch crafted from hundreds of skulls,vertebrae used as fleurs-de-lys and light fixtures made from femurs.
This brings and end to your tour and you can visit the Capuchin crypt again straight after for free if you wish to spend more time looking if not your free to leave the tour and do your own thing.
Part of the Rome 2011 July 16th-July 30th 2011 travel blog
1 / 1 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!