Two of the most impressive places to visit in Rome during your trip are the Catacombs of St. Callixtus and the Crypt of the Capuchin Brothers. Two Christian burial places that, due to their history, aesthetics and philosophical background, attract many curious visitors 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, don't 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 get a guided tour in your language
The perfect activity if you want to learn all about the history of one of Rome's most fascinating catacombs from 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. Best of all, your visit will be in a small group.
These catacombs are the oldest and most important in the Italian capital, housing the tombs of the first Christians. For 40 minutes you will immerse yourself in a network of tunnels around 20 kilometres 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 queues.
The guided tour of the Crypt of the Capuchins is a very popular activity among tourists, and this option with immediate booking, 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 approximately one hour and, of course, you will be accompanied by an expert guide. You will also have access to the Capuchin Crypt Museum, which 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 is different.
The catacombs of Rome are underground cemeteries that emerged in the first half of the 2nd century AD where early Christians buried their dead when Roman law did not permit burial within the city. Unlike the pagan Roman rite, the Christians did not cremate the dead but buried them. To solve the high cost of land and the problems of space that soon arose, they decided to excavate these enormous cemeteries underground.
Characteristics of the Catacombs of Saint Callixtus
The Catacombs of St. Callixtus are famous for being the largest in Rome (with 20 kilometres of tunnels spread over several floors) and for housing the Crypt of the Popes (which once housed the tombs of several popes from the 2nd to the 4th centuries AD).
However, nowadays you will not find ossuaries or human remains in the Catacombs of Saint Callixtus because during the barbarian invasions of the 8th century AD the catacombs were looted and the Popes decided to move the relics preserved there to the different churches in the city.
Features of the Crypt of the Capuchins
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 at the wish of Pope Urban VIII in honour of his brother Antonio Barberini, who was a member of the Capuchin Order.
What will you see in the Catacombs of St. Callixtus and the Crypt of the Capuchins?
The Catacombs of Saint Callixtus
Since the Christians returned to burying their dead above ground in the 5th century A.D., the catacombs of Rome were abandoned, which allowed them to be preserved practically intact until they were discovered in the 19th century by the archaeologist Giovanni Battista de Rossi, thus becoming 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 will be able to 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 popes from the 3rd century AD.
- The tomb of Saint 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 great symbolism related to early Christianity such as the Chrismon, the letters Alpha and Omega or the cross anchor.
The Crypt of the Capuchin Friars
Before entering the Crypt of the Capuchin Friars, you will first visit the Museum of the Convent of the Immaculate Conception, which will not take you long as it consists of only a few rooms. Here you can not only learn about the history of the Capuchin Order, but also see the painting "St. Francis of Assisi in meditation", which the painter Caravaggio made for this convent.
Afterwards you will have time to see the famous Crypt of the Capuchin Friars, a place that will leave you speechless and which may remind 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 that are most abundant in each of them (skulls, femurs, pelvises, tibias, etc.).
- Whole skeletons of friars dressed in their habits.
- Garlands, rosettes, stars and even a clock made from 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 underground tunnels.
Are there any discounts or reduced prices?
Yes, there are reduced tickets for the Catacombs of St. Callixtus from €12 for certain groups, so you can save a little on your visit. This small discount applies to:
- Children between 7 and 16 years old
- Student groups
- Students up to 25 years of age studying archaeology, art history, cultural heritage and architecture with the corresponding certification.
- Priests, religious, seminarians and novices showing appropriate certification.
- Admission is free for children up to 6 years of age and for disabled persons (>74%) and accompanying person.
In the case of the Crypt of the Capuchin Friars, the website of the Church of Santa María de la Concepción does not specify who this applies to, but it does refer to the fact that reduced admission is available 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 on an organised tour with an expert guide, as you will go deep into the bowels of the earth to walk through the tunnels that make up this ancient underground 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 decoration that adorns both the catacombs and the crypt.
We compare the opening hours
Catacombs of St. Callixtus
The Catacombs of St. Callixtus are open Monday to Sunday from 9 AM to 12 PM and from 2 PM to 5 PM. They are closed on Wednesdays, New Year's Day (January 1st), Easter Sunday and Christmas Day (December 25th).
Guided tours take place every half hour and last approximately 40 minutes. In the morning, the last guided tour starts at 12 PM and in the afternoon at 5 PM (on Maundy 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 venues?
The Catacombs of Rome are one of Rome's finest monuments. 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 Rome' s best known churches so there tend to be 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 are the remains of villas, mausoleums, catacombs and even a circus. Strolling along it is like taking a trip back in time to Ancient Rome.
The Crypt of the Capuchin Friars 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 metro (line A, Barberini station).
Where to eat near the Catacombs and the Crypt?
Taking a trip to visit the Catacombs of San Callisto or the Crypt of the Capuchin Brothers works up an appetite. Fortunately, in the vicinity of both tourist attractions there are several restaurants where you can refuel. Here are some examples:
Catacombs of St. Callixtus
- Tuarua (Via delle Sette Chiese 300): a café perfect for a quick snack such as a sandwich and a coffee.
- Cecilia Metella (Via Appia Antica 125- 129): a very nice restaurant where you can have a delicious Italian pasta dish. It has a lovely garden to relax outside on nice days. Good value for money.
- Trattoria Cotto e Magnato (Via Cornelio Magni, 27 Zona Eur Colombo): a family-run trattoria where you can enjoy the best homemade Italian cuisine. Friendly and efficient service.
Crypt of the Capuchin Brothers
- Ristorante Ciao Bella (Via Vittorio Veneto 12): a nice place to eat in the centre of Rome. Good service and the pizzas made in the wood-fired oven are very tasty.
- Il Gazebo (Via Veneto, 24 Hotel Imperiale): the menu is simple but of great quality. The pasta and veal are among the best in the restaurant. Attentive service.
- Fraschetteria Giampiccolo (Via Dei Cappuccini 26): a cosy and quiet restaurant where you can try a delicious fresh pasta and for dessert a delicious tiramisu. Fast service.
What pictures will you take inside?
Unfortunately in the Catacombs of St. Callixtus and in the Crypt of the Capuchin Brothers you are not allowed to take pictures or videos.
This is a pity because you would certainly like to have a souvenir of the experience but, on the positive side, this will allow you to fully immerse yourself in the experience, to be more attentive to all the details of the spaces you see during the tour and to the guide's explanations, which are very interesting. And not so much to get a good angle or enough light to take a good photograph.
Tips for visiting this type of location
Avoid the catacombs if you are claustrophobic
The Catacombs of St. Callixtus are underground and the tunnels that make up the catacombs are long, dark and narrow.
Although you will be accompanied by a guide and there is plenty of room to move around calmly and smoothly, if you are prone to claustrophobia in confined spaces before buying tickets, consider whether this is the right 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 you go you should think a bit about what you are going to see there and that you should consider whether the visit is appropriate for children, as the scene is a bit spooky.
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 clothes to avoid getting cold during the tour.
Wear comfortable shoes
The floor of the catacombs is not always flat, so comfortable shoes that support your feet are essential to make the most of your visit.
Don't take a camera
As it is forbidden to take photos or videos in the catacombs and the crypt, there is no need to take your camera with you. Less weight in your backpack!
Which one to choose according to your travel plans
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 tips!
- If it's your first time in Rome: the Catacombs of St. Callixtus
- If you 've been to the city before: the Crypt of the Capuchin Friars
- If you want to make a quiet visit: the Catacombs of St. Callixtus
- If you are short on time: the Crypt of the Capuchin Friars
- If you are on a budget: the Catacombs of Saint Callixtus
- If you don't want to get tired: the Crypt of the Capuchin Brothers
- 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