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San Gennaro Catacombs in Naples

The city of Vesuvius hides a great history in its entrails. The visits to the catacombs of San Gennaro will make you discover its most hidden secrets.

Matteo Gramegna

Matteo Gramegna

6 min read

San Gennaro Catacombs in Naples

Catacombs of San Gennaro. From Paleo-Christian to Contemporary | ©Together4europe2012

In addition to everything we can see in the streets of Naples, the city hides a treasure that few know: its underground. Several tours through the subway Naples try to show these attractions to the public in order to show them the cultural and historical richness it treasures.

A good example is the underground of the Rione Sanità, where one of the most evocative places in Naples is hidden: the catacombs of San Gennaro, the eternal resting place of illustrious personalities and common people. If you are looking for what to see and do in Naples, you can't miss this visit.

How much do tickets to the Catacombs of San Gennaro cost?

Inside the Catacombs| ©poprostuflaga
Inside the Catacombs| ©poprostuflaga

Depends on your age. The list below lists the available options:

  • Standard admission: 9 €
  • Students: 6 € (you will need to show your university card).
  • Seniors over 65 years old: 6 €
  • Children under 18 years old: 5 €.
  • Children under 6 years old: free

Book a guided tour of Naples

Opening hours of the Catacombs of San Gennaro

Entrance to the Catacombs| ©FYEphoto
Entrance to the Catacombs| ©FYEphoto

The catacombs are open every day of the year except December 25. You can visit them from 10:00 to 17:00 with the last entrance at 17:00.

If you want to avoid the queues, I recommend going at 10:00 or at lunchtime. Keep in mind that this last slot is approximately from 12:30 to 14:00.

How to get tickets at the ticket office

Inside the Basilica del Buon Consiglio| ©FRAG S
Inside the Basilica del Buon Consiglio| ©FRAG S

In case you want to buy your tickets on the day of the visit, you can go to the ticket office located in Via Capodimonte 13.

Here you will find the Basilica del Buon Consiglio, a church reminiscent of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. Not for nothing is it known as "la piccola San Pietro".

If you travel in spring, after visiting the caves of the Rione Sanità you can appreciate the sun's rays in the Real Bosco di Capodimonte, a 134-hectare public park. By the way, if you like nature, you must necessarily visit Vesuvius, the volcano of Pompeii.

Are there guided tours of the Catacombs of San Gennaro? How long do they last?

Guided Tour| ©Together4europe
Guided Tour| ©Together4europe

Yes, you can take a guided tour every hour. Since the opening hours are from 10:00 to 17:00, there are 8 time slots to visit the Catacombs of San Gennaro.

The guides know every corner like the back of their hand and are the guarantee of a complete but not boring tour. On average, the visits last one hour.

How much time do you need to visit the Catacombs?

Restorer of the Catacombs| ©Anik Messier
Restorer of the Catacombs| ©Anik Messier

Guided tours usually last about 1 hour. There is also an extended version known as "Miglio Sacro". It is a much longer route: it crosses the entire neighborhood (Rione Sanità) and can be done only on Sunday mornings. In this case, the visit lasts about 3 hours.

Are tickets to the Catacombs of San Gennaro included in any of the city's tourist passes?

Pompeii Forum| ©Pablo Cabezos
Pompeii Forum| ©Pablo Cabezos

Yes, the caves of the Rione Sanità are included in The Naples Pass tourist card as well as other attractions in the city and the region. When you purchase it you can choose from three options - Light, Campania Museum and WHOLE Campania - which open the door to the main monuments and attractions.

In its most complete version it includes access to the Reggia di Caserta, tickets to Pompeii and even discounts in bars and restaurants. By the way, if you are interested in the culinary side of the city, I recommend you read the post about the best food tours in Naples.

Are the catacombs wheelchair accessible?

Tombs of the Catacombs| ©Andreas
Tombs of the Catacombs| ©Andreas

Yes, the catacombs are also accessible to people with reduced mobility. In this case, you must book in advance. Please note that you should not go to the main entrance, but to the access located at Vicoletto San Gennaro dei Poveri 22.

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How to reach the Catacombs of San Gennaro

Naples bus| ©Paul Burroughs
Naples bus| ©Paul Burroughs

The Catacombs of San Gennaro are located in Via Capodimonte 13, just below the Basilica dell'Incoronata Madre del Buon Consiglio and a few minutes walk from the Museum of Capodimonte.

The nearest means of transport is by bus. You can take lines 168, 178, 204 or C63 and get off at the Capodimonte - Basilica dell'Incoronata stop. For more information I recommend you to consult the official website of the local transport company.

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Is it advisable to go to the Catacombs of San Gennaro with children?

Visiting the catacombs of Naples| ©Anita Pravits
Visiting the catacombs of Naples| ©Anita Pravits

Visits to the underground are often enjoyed by children and the catacombs of the Neapolitan saint are no exception.

Underneath the streets and squares hides a city under the city that you can explore with your children. In addition, the municipality sometimes organizes workshops dedicated to the youngest members of the family.

If you want to go deeper into this topic, I recommend you to have a look at the article about the visits to the subway Naples.

What you can't miss in the Catacombs of San Gennaro

Upper Catacombs| ©Tomas Mattison
Upper Catacombs| ©Tomas Mattison

In general, entering the belly of the earth is always fascinating. Especially if each environment is illuminated by an LED system that creates a very suggestive atmosphere. Before booking you should know that this vast subway space is divided into three parts:

  • Tomb of San Gennaro, occupies part of the upper area and was discovered only in 1973.
  • Upper Catacombs, the eternal resting place of the Bishops. In this environment you can admire some of the first Christian paintings of southern Italy. Among the most famous are the oldest portrait of San Gennaro, a decoration dedicated to St. Peter and the fresco depicting the family of Theotecnus.
  • Lower Catacombs. It is the oldest nucleus and surrounds the subway basilica of San Agrippino, the first patron saint of Naples.

Who was San Gennaro?

Gennaro was born in the Campania region in the second half of the 3rd century and was later elected bishop of Benevento. He probably died during the reign of Diocletian, who had him beheaded for not abjuring the Catholic religion. He was also appreciated by the pagans and is still very much loved today.

According to tradition, during the transport of the relics, a woman gave the bishop of Naples two small vials containing the blood of the martyr and every year the miracle of the blood is repeated three times.

In other words, the plasma of San Gennaro melts and returns to its liquid consistency.

You can see this strange phenomenon if you travel to Naples on Christmas (December 16), the first Saturday in May and September 19. The ritual takes place in the Duomo, the main church of the city.

Can I visit the catacombs if I suffer from claustrophobia?

Walls of the Catacombs| ©Andreas
Walls of the Catacombs| ©Andreas

Most of the time, the sensation of being crowded is not usually perceived. Unlike other catacombs, the catacombs of San Gennaro are much larger and arranged on two floors.

In some rooms the vault is 6 meters high. It also has an effective LED lighting system.

If you don't want to risk it, there are thousands of options to choose from. One of the most coveted attractions is the Archaeological Museum of Naples, which houses an incomparable collection of ancient art. Another landmark is the Sansevero Chapel and a visit to its Veiled Christ.

More tips

Part of the Tour| ©Andreas
Part of the Tour| ©Andreas

To complete the article, here are a few tips to help you organize your visit:

  • The visits to the catacombs are very crowded, it is always preferable to book in advance.
  • If you don't, you can arrive a little before the opening to buy tickets at the ticket office in Via Capodimonte 13. It opens at 9:30 am and there is usually a queue.
  • Even if you visit Naples in summer, be aware that the temperature is not the same as outside. It usually fluctuates between 15° and 22° and therefore I suggest you put a sweatshirt or sweater in your backpack.
  • Occasionally a night tour is organized on Saturday and Sunday. The entrance fee includes an aperitif with beer and taralli, a salty doughnut typical of southern Italy. The price is usually around 50 €.
  • You can take pictures but without flash

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