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Catacombs of San Sebastiano – tours, prices, timings, what to expect, what to see

Edited by: Rekha Rajan
Fact checked by: Jamshed V Rajan

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The Catacombs of San Sebastian have attracted both pilgrims and tourists for centuries.

The San Sebastian experience consists of the catacombs where Saint San Sebastian was buried in 350 and the Basilica built above it in the early 4th century. 

San Sebastian catacombs are the world’s first underground burial sites. 

Initially, it was called Ad Catacumbas – a name derived from the Greek kata (near) and kymbas (cavity) because they were near quarries.

Ever since the word ‘Catacombs’ has been used to refer to underground Christian burial chambers.

This article shares everything you must know before booking Catacombs of San Sebastian tour tickets.

What to expect at San Sebastiano Catacombs

Tours of San Sebastiano Catacombs are available in many languages and last about 30 minutes, with moderate stair climbing.

These tours only access specific sectors of the world’s earliest catacombs. 

The 1st level is almost destroyed, but visitors can see frescoes, stucco work, and epigraphs on the 2nd level of the Catacombs.

You also see three perfectly preserved mausoleums and walls plastered with hundreds of invocations to Peter and Paul.

Worshippers engraved these in the 3rd and 4th centuries before the Basilica above was built.  

Don’t miss out on the section of pagan Roman tombs.

Catacombs tour for cruise ship passengers
Just got off a cruise and want to explore the Catacombs of Rome? Check out this tour that takes you through San Sebastiano and San Callisto Catacombs in six hours.


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Where to book tickets for Catacombs of San Sebastian

Tickets for Catacombs of San Sebastian are available online in advance or at the attraction.

Online ticket prices tend to be cheaper than tickets at the attraction.

When you buy online, you can avoid the long queues at the ticket counters. 

When you book early, you also get your preferred time slot.

Because San Sebastiano Catacombs sells a limited number of tickets, booking early helps avoid last-minute disappointments.

How do online tickets work

Go to the San Sebastiano Catacombs ticket booking page, and select your preferred date, time slot, and number of tickets to buy.

You will receive the ticket confirmation in your email after the booking.

There is no need to get printouts of the ticket. 

On the day of your visit, show the e-ticket on your smartphone at the Catacombs ticket office, and you will be directed to your guide.

Catacombs of San Sebastiano ticket price

The entry tickets to the Catacombs of San Sebastiano cost €15 for adults 17 years and above. 

Kids aged seven to 16 years, students with valid ID cards, get a €3 discount and pay only €12 to enter. 

Children under seven years can enter for free.


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Catacombs of San Sebastiano tours

The Catacomb of San Sebastiano organizes guided tours in English, Italian, French, German, and Spanish.

Visitors can take public transport, reach the attraction, and buy tickets at the venue. 

However, for an assured entry and a memorable tour, you should book one of the Catacomb tours, which includes transport to San Sebastiano.

Some of our favorite tours are – 

Catacombs of San Sebastiano Guided Tour

Experience the complete beauty, faith, and memory of the Catacombs of San Sebastiano on this 30-minutes expert-guided tour.

The catacombs were built between the end of the second and the beginning of the third century AD.

Before being used as a pozzolana quarry, the Christian community utilized the area for funeral observances and burials.

Discover why the Catacombs of San Sebastiano are a hidden realm that drew pilgrims to this location in the Middle Ages rather than depressing, foreboding slums.

The tour is available in English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish.

Ticket Prices

Adult Tickets (17+ years): €15
Youth Ticket (7 to 16 years): €12
Infant Ticket (up to 6 years): Free

Catacombs and Roman Countryside 

Your half-day tour into the Roman countryside starts when you board a coach at 9.45 am from the city center. 

You travel along the Appian Way and stop at historical sites to explore on foot. 

Then, you will continue in your vehicle to one of Rome’s ancient burial sites, either the Catacombs of San Sebastiano or the Catacombs of San Callisto. 

After following your guide through the underground tunnels, you come up to the surface and board the bus to see a Roman aqueduct.

After marveling at Romans’ engineering skills, you return to the city. 

If you don’t mind the costs but want a private and personalized experience, check out this private tour of the Catacombs of Rome.

Catacombs tours of Rome come at many prices and flavors. For more tours, check out GetYourGuide, Viator, and Tiqets.


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How to reach Catacombs of San Sebastiano

The Catacombs of San Sebastian are along the first 6 km (4 miles) stretch of Via Appia.

Via Appia, known as the Appian Way in English, is one of the longest and oldest roads built by the Roman Empire. It is more than 2300 years old. 

The Catacombs of San Sebastian is next to the Catacombs of St. Callixtus on the Appian Way.

Address: Via Appia Antica, 136, 00179 Roma RM, Italy. Get Directions.

You can board bus number 118 or 660 to reach Basilica S. Sebastiano bus stop, which is only a minute walk from the attraction.

Or you can board bus route 218 From San Giovanni metro station on Line A.

By Car

If you’re traveling by car, turn on your Google Maps and get started.

There are enough parking garages around the attraction.

However, the best way to visit the catacombs and monuments on the Via Appia is by booking a tour that includes transport, entry tickets, and an official guide. Find out about Catacombs tours.


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Timing of Catacombs of San Sebastiano

The San Sebastiano Catacombs are open daily from 10 am to 5 pm.

The last entry into the underground burial site is at 4.30 pm.

The Catacombs remains closed on 25 December, 1 January, and Easter Day. 

How long does the tour take

The duration of a tour of the Catacombs of San Sebastiano can vary based on the type of tour/ticket you book.

On average, a guided tour of the Catacombs of San Sebastiano lasts 30 minutes to an hour.

Some guided tours of San Sebastiano Catacombs even last 3 hours or more.

However, the time spent can also depend on the level of detail the guide provides and the accessible areas during the tour.

Thus, we recommended checking while booking online regarding the duration of tours at the Catacombs of San Sebastiano, as tour lengths might vary.

Best time to visit

The best time to visit the Catacombs of San Sebastiano is when it opens for the day at 10 am.

Visiting early morning is a good time to explore with fewer crowds. Many tourists tend to arrive later in the day, so arriving shortly after opening hours will provide a quieter experience.

Visiting on weekdays (Tuesday through Thursday) offers a less crowded environment than on weekends.


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What to see at San Sebastiano Catacombs

There is much to see at the Catacombs and the Church of San Sebastiano, and you can easily spend half a day exploring these tourist attractions. 

The Christian Catacomb

While exploring the Catacombs galleries of the Christian Catacombs, you will see different kinds of tombs and decorations. 

While some are simple, others are decorated, and it is easy to see that they put a lot of effort into decorating the tombs. 

Each tomb in the catacomb has a marker – a lamp, a coin, a jewel, a toy, etc. 

Christian Symbols

One can see traces of Christianity from the first century at the St. San Sebastiano Catacombs. 

While exploring the galleries, you must keep an eye out for Christian symbols such as the fish (symbol of Christ), anchor (the image of hope), dove with an olive branch in its beak (a peaceful soul), etc. 

Basilica of San Sebastiano

The Basilica of San Sebastiano is located on the fourth mile of the Appian Way. 

Emperor Constantine built it in the 4th century, and was initially called Basilica Apostoloru in honor of the Apostles Peter and Paul. 

Over time, it got its current name, the Basilica of San Sebastiano.

The Basilica is also home to Saint Sebastian’s grave, Jesus’ footprints, Bernini’s last marble work, and the Museum of Sarcophagi.

Jesus’ footprints

Jesus Foot Prints
Image: Corvinus.nl

Visitors can also see a set of marble footprints attributed to Jesus at the Basilica.

Believers say he left the marks while walking along the Appian Way to Rome. 

Rome has around 60 Catacombs, out of which five are most popular with tourists. Find out everything about the Catacombs of Rome.

Saint Sebastian’s crypt

St Sebastian worked for Emperor Diocletian but secretly helped persecuted Christians. 

When he found out, Sebastiano got his punishment – the soldiers were to kill him with arrows. The soldiers did their job and left the bleeding man for dead. 

However, he survived and went to King Diocletian to request him to stop the persecution. 

The King heard him, but this time, ordered him to be killed by flogging. 

After killing Sebastiano, the soldiers threw his body in Cloaca Maxima, the sewage system of Rome. 

Legend has it that he appeared in the dream of matron Lucina and requested her to bury him in the cemetery ’ad Catacumbas’ on the Via Appia.

To this date, St. Sebastiano’s grave is in the Basilica above the Catacombs.

At the religious site, you will also see the arrow that allegedly killed San Sebastian.

Bernini’s last work

Sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s last work was a marble bust of Jesus Christ. 

It was exhibited in the Basilica of San Sebastiano for four centuries without knowing the creator. 

In 2006, it was rediscovered, attributed to the Baroque sculptor, and displayed to the public.

Museum of Sarcophagi

Sarcophagus
Altar made from a fifth century sarcophagus. Image: Corvinus.nl

The Museum of the Sarcophagi of San Sebastiano is on the right aisle of the Basilica built by the emperor Constantine.

Skilled marble workers made the Sarcophagi (stone coffins) on display between the third and fourth centuries AD. 

Coffins are decorated with many figures and characters, which depict the cultural and religious environment among the Christian community of Rome in those days. 

The Museum of Sarcophagi is open every day and follows the timings of the Catacombs. 

Sebastiano Catacombs admission ticket includes access to the museum.

Mausoleums of the Piazzola

Even before the cemetery of San Sebastiano was born, there stood a small Necropolis where the Pagans buried their dead.

Three finely decorated mausoleums overlook this Necropolis.

All the mausoleums are similar, with a central door surmounted by an inscription with the owners’ names and some decorations. 


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What to wear to Catacombs of San Sebastiano

While visiting the Catacombs of San Sebastiano, it is better to wear comfortable shoes because you will be walking for at least 30 to 40 minutes. 

Since the temperature and humidity underground differ from what you experience above the ground, you must dress up in layers.

Take along a bottle of water.

FAQs about Catacombs of San Sebastiano

Here are a few frequently asked questions about the Catacombs of San Sebastiano:

Are guided tours available at the Catacombs of San Sebastiano?

Only guided tours are offered to visitors. The internal guide staff of the catacomb of St. Sebastian must always lead visitors. These tours are usually led by knowledgeable guides who provide insights into the catacombs’ history, art, and the significance of early Christian burials.

Can I buy tickets in advance online for the Catacombs of San Sebastiano?

Yes, purchasing tickets in advance online from the Catacombs of San Sebastiano ticket booking page is possible. This can help secure your visit and save time.

What types of tickets are available for the Catacombs of San Sebastiano?

You can book tickets that best suits your requirement. Here are some options: St Sebastian Catacombs Guided TourCatacombs and Roman Countryside, or Private tour of the Catacombs of Rome.

Is there any ticket cancellation or rescheduling policy?

You can cancel the ticket until 23:59 the day before you visit and get a full refund. Please select a refundable ticket during checkout. Rescheduling is not possible for this ticket.

Is photography allowed inside the Catacombs of San Sebastiano?

It is forbidden to take photos and videos inside the catacomb.

Is the Catacombs of San Sebastiano accessible for people with disabilities?

People who use wheelchairs cannot visit the catacomb due to insurmountable architectural barriers. Moreover, The catacombs visit is not recommended for those with serious walking problems, as the tour includes 70 irregular steps to get down and up. It is not possible to sit, and there is no elevator.

Sources
# Catacombeditalia.va
# Freetoursbyfoot.com
# Wikipedia.org
# Tripadvisor.com

The travel specialists at TheBetterVacation.com use only high-quality sources while researching & writing their articles. We make every attempt to keep our content current, reliable and trustworthy.

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