Beneath the City of Rome - Trent
Rome Travel Blog› entry 16 of 18 › view all entries
Wednesday morning (June 23, 2009) we packed up had boarded our last train, destination Rome. The train ride from Florence to Rome was really quick. So quick we weren’t prepared as we rolled into the “Termini” train station. We checked in with the hostel and reserved a shuttle to the airport for early Saturday morning.
Again I must apologize in advance as what follows may seem like a boring history lesson.
After check in we headed out for a 2:45 guided tour of Rome’s underground. The tour started at the catacombs outside the city wall, then we descended into the Church of San Clemente, and finally we finished at the Cappuccin Crypt.
The catacombs are a labyrinth of underground tombs. This particular catacomb actually stretches, weaves and winds for 11miles underground. The tombs in these tunnels were used to bury dead Christians prior to the 6th century AD. At the time, worshiping Christianity was punishable by death as Paganism was the official religion of the empire, and because these worshipers didn’t believe in cremation (The body is used to transport the spirit to heaven) Christians of the time were forced to tunnel underground. After the 6th century AD when Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire, the catacombs were no longer needed and were forgotten. Vegetation covered and hid the existence of the catacombs until the late 1800’s.
Next stop was the Church of San Clemente. The church of San Clemente is a 12th century church built on top of a 4th century church that is in turn was built upon a 1st century Pagan temple. Why the layers? For hundreds and even thousands of years Roman’s would just discard trash and rubble into the streets. After time when things got to be such a mess they would pave over the rubbish creating a new layer to the city. Many sites of the city show these layers as the roads of ancient Rome are some 30 feet below today’s current roads.
Final stop of the tour was the Capuchin Crypts. The Capuchin Crypts are a monastery (still in use today) where the walls of the crypts are decorated with the bones of 4000 monks.