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.
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.
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 largest and most famous of Rome’s Christian catacombs, the Catacombs of San Callisto cover five levels and hold over half a million bodies.
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.
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.
Believed to have been built by early Christians, the Salzburg Catacombs are series of mausoleums carved into the face of the Mönchsberg rock.
Comprised of four levels of burial passages and graves, the St. Sebastian Catacombs are some of the earliest Christian catacombs in Rome.
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.