Rome wasn’t built in a day. Everybody knows that. But what everybody doesn’t know so well is that beneath the eternal city another structure exists, the so called Underground Rome. Under the streets and buildings of Rome there is a complex structure made of tunnels and quarries, dating back to the beginning of the ancient period when Rome was founded.
Nowadays, only a few of these tunnels are mapped and, unfortunately, some portions of them often suddenly collapse. These tunnels, made of volcanic rock (or tuff), were used in many different ways by Romans over time: as catacombs, mushroom farming, sewer system or shelters, as happened during World War II.
Have you ever wanted a time machine? Through our Rome Underground Tour you can visit off the beaten track areas, going back in time like in a time machine! Don’t you believe it is possible? To prove you that, we have chosen 5 secret places and passages of Underground Rome. Remember: if you find some other new out, feel free to continue our list in the comments!
1) Christian Catacombs
According to Roman law, outside the walls of the city, along with the main roads (such as the Appian Way), many Christian catacombs were built from the 2nd century onwards. Catacombs were built like a maze of narrow underground passages, in whose walls were dug graves, for one or more bodies, laid out vertically. Walking through these dark passages is a thrilling experience and you will be very impressed by the air of mystery and vastness.
Read also "Visit the Catacombs in Rome"
2) Colosseum Dungeons
This is a must see during your Roman trip! Recently opened to the public, this underground area of the Colosseum was the staging one, restricted to animals in cages and gladiators preparing themselves and their swords for the games. During a recent restoration, in underground passageways, some colored fragments of frescoes and graffiti on travertine marble were found, representing gladiators’ and animals’ bouts, made by spectators. Contact us and let’s go find them!
3) Vicus Caprarius
Under Trevi Fountain two huge underground places were found. One was a housing complex, later transformed into a luxury domus. The other one was converted into a water storage tank for the Aqua Virgo aqueduct that still leads water to Trevi Fountain. These two large archaeological sites were discovered only 16 years ago!
4) Capuchin Crypt
This crypt is located beneath the Church of Our Lady of the Conception of the Capuchins and was made with real human bones of the Capuchin friars. As you can imagine, it has a very strong impact on visitors especially the youngest ones!
- Read also "Mummies in Italy: 10 of the creepiest cemeteries and crypts"
5) Undergrounds of St. Clemente’s Basilica
In the Basilica of St. Clemente there are two levels of undergrounds that served as houses for noblemen. Through a very narrow passage, you can reach the Mithraeum, a little pagan temple dedicated to the god Mithra. This basilica is a great example of a multilevel historical structure worth to be visited!
Did you already know these underground places and passages in Rome? Have you already experienced them? Tell us about your experiences!