Eerie, creepy and guaranteed to send a chill down your spine, catacombs are among the most unsettling tourist attractions in the world. Yet despite the disconcerting nature of catacombs, they remain incredibly popular places to visit, with millions touring their murky chambers to explore the grinning remains of their permanent residents…
While many of the catacombs which survive today date back to Roman times, not all catacombs are from the ancient era – indeed some of the best-known catacombs are relatively modern affairs.
In general, the most famous catacombs of the world – such as those in Rome or Paris – contain hundreds, if not thousands of skeletons, graves and tombs. Often the very walls themselves are made up of skulls and bones, making for rather sinister displays which are unlike anything most people will ever see anywhere else. It’s fair to say that catacombs are unique attractions, which have to be seen to be believed.
For those willing to get to grips with these unusual sites, we’ve put together a list of catacombs around the world and you can also use our catacombs map above to search further. So start exploring, if you dare…
Lurking just behind and underneath Casa Rosada, the presidential palace of Buenos Aires, lies the little known eighteenth century catacombs of Fuerte Viejo.
Casa Rosada is a presidential palace in Argentina’s capital Buenos Aires. Literally translated as the “Pink Palace” due to its distinctive pink façade, Casa Rosada houses the executive branch of Argentina’s government. The area on which Casa Rosada is located was once by the sea and in the late sixteenth century... Read More
Dating back as far as the second and third centuries AD, the Catacombs of San Gennaro are a complex of dimly lit, haunting underground tombs in use from early Christianity right through to medieval times.
The Catacombs of San Gennaro are an incredible collection of ancient underground tombs in Naples, some dating back as far as the second and third centuries AD. Located near San Gennaro church, the catacombs were in use from the early era of Christianity to at least the later middle ages... Read More
Comprising of a maze of ancient chambers and containing hundreds of Roman graves, the Catacombs of Kom ash-Shuqqafa in Alexandria, Egypt, rank among the best ancient tombs to have survived.
The Catacombs of Kom ash-Shuqqafa in Alexandria, Egypt, are an incredible set of subterranean Ancient Roman tombs. Made up of three levels containing 300 bodies, the Catacombs of Kom ash-Shuqqafa represent the true sophistication of Ancient Roman engineering. Built in around the second century AD, the Catacombs of Kom ash-Shuqqafa comprise a... Read More
The largest and most famous of Rome’s Christian catacombs, the Catacombs of San Callisto cover five levels and hold over half a million bodies.
The Catacombs of San Callisto are just one of the many catacombs of Rome, five of which are regularly open to the public. These Catacombs were used by Christians as subterranean burial places. Built in around 150 AD, the Catacombs of San Callisto span five floors and hold over half... Read More
Among the creepiest catacombs in the world are the Catacombs of the Capuchins, in which thousands of preserved corpses dating from the sixteenth century onwards are displayed.
The Catacombs of the Capuchins (Catacombe dei Cappuccini) in Sicily house the preserved – often extremely well-preserved – corpses of thousands of people. It is believed that people were initially buried in the Catacombs of the Capuchins because those interred there were found to remain mysteriously well-preserved. Over time, more... Read More
Petrovaradin Fortress in Serbia is a vast 17th century fortress which contains, among other things a catacombs complex believed to contain the riches of Serbia’s medieval leaders.
Petrovaradin Fortress is a seventeenth century fortified structure in Novi Sad, Serbia. In fact, there has been a fortress on the site since the Bronze Age and the first fortifications on the site of Petrovaradin Fortress were built by the Romans and expanded by Cisterian monks in the thirteenth century.... Read More
Believed to have been built by early Christians, the Salzburg Catacombs are series of mausoleums carved into the face of the Mönchsberg rock.
The Salzburg Catacombs are series of mausoleums carved into the face of the Mönchsberg rock by the city’s St. Peter’s Cemetery. St. Peter’s Cemetery (Petersfriedhof) was built in 1627, making it Salzburg’s oldest graveyard. St Peter’s Cemetery is the resting place of several eminent people including the composer, Michael Haydn, the... Read More
Comprised of four levels of burial passages and graves, the St. Sebastian Catacombs are some of the earliest Christian catacombs in Rome.
The St Sebastian Catacombs (Catacombe di San Sebastiano) are fourth century AD underground Christian burial tombs. They are some of the earliest of their kind in Rome. The many catacombs of Rome are the remnants of early Christianity, a reminder of a time when persecuted Christians would bury their dead in... Read More
Among the most famous catacombs in the world, the Paris Catacombs are underground quarries, housing approximately six million human skeletons, which date back to the eighteenth century.
The Catacombs of Paris (Les Catacombes de Paris) came into use as a burial place for Parisian bones in the eighteenth century following the overpopulation of Parisian cemeteries and the closure of the Cemetery of Innocents (Les Innocents). The Catacombs are underground quarries encompassing a portion of Paris’ old mines near... Read More
One of the most famous roads in the world, the ancient Via Appia Antica, built in 312 BC, boasts a great number of ancient graves, catacomb complexes and Roman tombstones.
Via Appia Antica, also known as the Appian Way, is one of the oldest and most important roads leading to Rome. Built in 312 BC, it was slowly extended and, by 191 BC, it reached the port of Brindisi, over 550km southeast of the city (along the “heel” of Italy).... Read More