Two of the most impressive sites that you can visit in Rome during your trip are the Catacombs of St. Callixtus and the Crypt of the Capuchin Friars. Two places of Christian burial that for its history, its aesthetics and its philosophical background attract many curious and will not leave you indifferent.
If you have time and budget to spare, ideally you should visit both sites because they are amazing but if not, do not worry, because to help you in the difficult task of choosing which place to visit, below we compare the Catacombs of St. Callixtus and the Crypt of the Capuchin Brothers.
Make sure you have a guided tour in your language
The perfect activity if you want to know all the history of one of the most fascinating catacombs of Rome with an expert guide.
By booking this guided tour of the Catacombs of St. Callixtus in Rome you can discover the history of all the frescoes, tunnels and tombs they house without leaving anything out, as you will be accompanied by an expert guide who speaks your language and will be able to answer all your questions. And best of all, your visit will be in a small group.
These catacombs are the oldest and most important in the Italian capital, as they house the tombs of the first Christians. For 40 minutes you will immerse yourself in a network of tunnels about 20 kilometers long where you can admire spaces such as the Crypt of Santa Cecilia, the Crypt of the Popes and the Cubicle of the Sacraments, among other places.
Book your activity with immediate confirmation
The best option if you want to visit the crypt under the Santa Maria Concepcion Church in small groups and not have to wait forever in the entrance lines.
The guided visit to the Crypt of the Capuchins is a very popular activity among tourists, and this option with immediate reservation, without queues and in small groups will allow you to secure your ticket and enjoy this particular place in the best way.
The experience lasts about an hour and, of course, you will be accompanied by an expert guide. In addition, you will also be able to access the Capuchin Crypt Museum, as it is included in the price.
What are the Catacombs of St. Callixtus and the Crypt of the Capuchins in Rome like?
Although both spaces were intended to house the mortal remains of Christians in Rome, the origin of the Catacombs of St. Callixtus and the Crypt of the Capuchin Friars responds to different motivations.
The catacombs of Rome are subway cemeteries that emerged in the first half of the second century A.D. where early Christians buried their dead when Roman law did not allow burial within the city. Unlike the pagan Roman rite, the Christians did not cremate the deceased but buried them. To solve the high cost of land and the space problems that soon arose, they decided to excavate these huge cemeteries underground.
Characteristics of the Catacombs of St. Callixtus
The Catacombs of St. Callixtus are famous for being the largest in Rome (they have 20 kilometers of tunnels spread over several floors) and for housing the crypt of the Popes (which once housed the tombs of several Popes from the second to the fourth centuries AD).
However, today you will not find ossuaries or human remains in the Catacombs of St. Callixtus because during the barbarian invasions of the eighth century AD there was much looting in the catacombs and the Popes decided to move the relics that were preserved there to the various churches of the city.
Features of the Capuchin Crypt
To see the remains you will have to go to the Crypt of the Capuchin Friars in the Church of Santa Maria della Concezione in Rome, which was built by the wish of Pope Urban VIII in honor of his brother Antonio Barberini, who was part of the Capuchin Order.
What will you see in the Catacombs of St. Callixtus and the Crypt of the Capuchins?
The Catacombs of St. Callixtus
Since the Christians returned to bury their dead above ground in the 5th century A.D., the catacombs of Rome were abandoned, which allowed their preservation practically intact until they were discovered in the 19th century by the archaeologist Giovanni Battista de Rossi, thus being a very important and interesting testimony of Antiquity.
Those of St. Callixtus are the most visited and extensive in Rome, even more than the Vatican Catacombs. There you can see:
- A lot of niches where the burials of Christians, many of them martyrs, took place. More than half a million tombs have been identified and only partially explored.
- The tombs of the early Popes containing the relics of several martyred pontiffs from the 3rd century AD.
- The tomb of St. Cecilia, whose remains rest today in the church of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere.
- A large number of frescoes, inscriptions and sculptures, which are endowed with a great symbolism related to early Christianity as the Chrismon, the letters Alpha and Omega or the cross anchor.
The Capuchin Friars Crypt
Before entering the Crypt of the Capuchin Friars you will first visit the Museum of the Convent of the Immaculate Conception, something that will not take you long because it consists of only a few rooms. Here you can not only learn about the history of the Capuchin Order, but also contemplate the canvas "St. Francis of Assisi in meditation" that the painter Caravaggio made for this convent.
Then you will have time to see the famous Crypt of the Capuchin Friars, a place that will leave you speechless and that possibly reminds you a lot of the Capela dos Ossos in Évora (Portugal) or the Gothic Church of Sedlec (Czech Republic). This is all it houses:
- Chapels decorated with the bones of more than 4,000 monks who perished between the 16th and 19th centuries, and named after the bones most abundant in each (skulls, femurs, pelvises, tibias, etc.).
- Whole skeletons of friars dressed in their habits.
- Garlands, rosettes, stars and even a clock made with the bones.
We compare ticket prices
If you want to see them separately, from 15€ you can get a general admission ticket to visit the Catacombs of St. Callixtus while from 59€ you can get a general admission ticket to visit the Crypt of the Capuchin Friars, which is next to the museum of the Convent of the Immaculate Conception and other subway tunnels.
Are there discounts or reduced prices?
That's right! In the Catacombs of San Calixto there are reduced tickets from 12€ for certain groups with which you can save a little on the visit. This small discount applies to:
- Children between 7 and 16 years old
- Student groups
- Students up to 25 years of archeology, art history, cultural heritage and architecture who can prove the corresponding certification.
- Priests, religious, seminarians and novices showing appropriate certification.
- Admission is free for children up to 6 years old and for disabled persons (>74%) and accompanying person.
In the case of the Crypt of the Capuchin Friars it is not specified on the website of the Church of Santa Maria de la Concepcion to whom it applies but it does make reference to the fact that there are reduced tickets for individual and group visitors.
Is it possible to take a guided tour?
The catacombs of Rome and in particular those of St. Callixtus can only be visited by taking an organized tour with an expert guide, as you will enter the bowels of the Earth to walk through the tunnels that make up this ancient subway cemetery, which are somewhat narrow and dark.
From 15€ you can find options on Hellotickets to visit the Catacombs of San Callisto, but there is also the option to take a guided tour that shows you both sites, on the web you can also see activities that mix the visit to the Crypt of the Capuchin Brothers with other Catacombs of Rome from 58€.
This way, in just a few hours you can tour two different tourist attractions to learn about the burial customs of the early Christians and their secret places of worship as well as the symbolism behind the decorations that adorn both the catacombs and the crypt.
We compare the opening hours
Catacombs of St. Callixtus
The Catacombs of St. Callixtus are open Monday through Sunday from 9 AM to 12 PM and from 2 PM to 5 PM. They are closed on Wednesdays, New Year's Day (January 1), Easter Sunday and Christmas Day (December 25).
Guided tours take place every half hour and last approximately 40 minutes. In the morning, the last guided tour starts at 12 PM while in the afternoon it starts at 5 PM (on Holy Thursday at 4:30 PM).
Crypt of the Capuchin Friars
The Crypt of the Capuchin Friars is open daily from 10 AM to 7 PM with the last admission time at 6:30 PM.
It closes on Easter Sunday, November 2 at 3 PM, Christmas Eve (December 24) at 2:30 PM, Christmas Day (December 25), New Year's Eve (December 31) at 2:30 PM and New Year's Day (January 1).
How are the crowds at both locations?
The Catacombs of Rome are one of the best monuments in Rome. Being such a popular place there are always quite a few visitors, so I advise you to visit early in the morning when it is less crowded. However, the tour inside is not done in large groups.
As for the Crypt of the Capuchin Friars, the Church of Santa Maria della Concezione is not one of the best known churches in Rome so there are usually fewer tourists to see it compared to the Catacombs of St. Callixtus.
Where are they located?
The Catacombs of St. Callixtus are located on Via Appia Antica, 126, once one of the most important roads of the Roman Empire, and can be reached by taking bus 118 near the Colosseo metro station.
Around the Via Appia there are vestiges of villas, mausoleums, catacombs and even a circus. Walking along it is like taking a trip back in time to Ancient Rome.
The Crypt of the Capuchin Friars, on the other hand, is located at 27 Via Vittorio Veneto, a few minutes walk from the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps. To get there you can walk or take the subway (line A, Barberini station).
Where to eat near the Catacombs and the Crypt?
Taking an excursion to visit the Catacombs of St. Callixtus or the Crypt of the Capuchin Brothers works up an appetite. Fortunately, in the vicinity of both tourist attractions there are several restaurants to refuel. Here are some examples:
Catacombs of St. Callixtus
- Tuarua (Via delle Sette Chiese 300): a cafe perfect for a quick snack such as a sandwich and coffee.
- Cecilia Metella (Via Appia Antica 125- 129): a very nice restaurant where you can have a delicious Italian pasta dish. It has a beautiful garden to relax outside on good weather days. Good value for money.
- Trattoria Cotto e Magnato (Via Cornelio Magni, 27 Zona Eur Colombo): a family trattoria where you can enjoy the best homemade Italian cuisine. Friendly and efficient service.
Crypt of the Capuchin Friars
- Ristorante Ciao Bella (Via Vittorio Veneto 12): a nice place to eat in the center of Rome. Good service and the pizzas made in the wood oven are very tasty.
- Il Gazebo (Via Veneto, 24 Hotel Imperiale): the menu is simple but of great quality. The pasta and veal are the best of the restaurant. Attentive service.
- Fraschetteria Giampiccolo (Via Dei Cappuccini 26): a cozy and quiet restaurant where you can taste a delicious fresh pasta and for dessert a delicious tiramisu. Fast service.
What photos will you take inside?
Unfortunately in the Catacombs of St. Callixtus and the Crypt of the Capuchin Brothers it is not allowed to take pictures or videos.
A pity because you would certainly like to have a souvenir of the experience but, looking on the bright side, this will allow you to fully immerse yourself in the experience, to be more attentive to all the details of the spaces that you will see during the tour and to the explanations of the guide that are very interesting. And not so much to get a good angle or enough light to take a good picture.
Tips for visiting this type of locations
Avoid the catacombs if you are claustrophobic
The Catacombs of St. Callixtus are underground and the tunnels that compose them are vast, dark and narrow.
Although you will be accompanied by a guide and there is enough space to move around calmly and without problems, if you are prone to suffer from claustrophobia in confined spaces before buying tickets assess whether this is the most appropriate activity for you.
Get a feel for what you will see in the Crypt of the Capuchin Brothers
Due to the peculiar decoration of the chapels in the Crypt of the Capuchin Friars, this place can make quite an impression. If you are a very sensitive person, my advice is that before going you should think a bit about what you are going to see there and to evaluate if the visit is appropriate to go with children because the picture is a bit creepy.
Follow the dress code
When visiting the Catacombs of St. Callixtus or the Crypt of the Capuchin Brothers, remember to wear clothes that cover your shoulders and knees to enter, as these are spaces with a sacred background for the Catholic religion.
In the catacombs, the temperature is around 16° C and the humidity is high so it is advisable to wear some warm clothing to avoid getting cold during the tour.
Wear comfortable shoes
The floor of the catacombs is not always flat, so wearing comfortable shoes that support your feet is essential to make the most of your visit.
Do not take a camera
Since it is forbidden to take photos or videos in the catacombs and the crypt, you will not need to take your camera with you. Less weight in your backpack!
Which one to choose according to your travel plan
If you have enough time during your trip to Rome, my advice is to visit both sites as they are very different spaces that will surprise you both for their history and their aesthetics. Otherwise, it might be a good idea to focus on your tastes and look at your travel plan to help you decide. Here are some hints!
- If it's your first time in Rome: the Catacombs of St. Callixtus
- If you have been to the city before: the Crypt of the Capuchin Brothers
- If you want a quiet visit: the Catacombs of St. Callixtus
- If you are short of time: the Crypt of the Capuchin Friars
- If you are on a budget: the Catacombs of St. Callixtus
- If you do not want to tire yourself: the Crypt of the Capuchin Friars
- If you are interested in the history of Rome and Christianity: the Catacombs of St. Callixtus
- If you are interested in original and peculiar visits: the Crypt of the Capuchin Brothers