Vatican Necropolis

Vatican Necropolis, Vatican City

Vatican Necropolis
4.5
Points of Interest & Landmarks • Cemeteries • Religious Sites
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9:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Monday
9:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Tuesday
9:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Wednesday
9:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Thursday
9:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Friday
9:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Saturday
9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
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About
When Pius XII ordered a thorough excavation of the area under the High Altar in St. Peter's Basilica, twisting stone passages were found leading to an ancient Roman necropolis, which contained chambers 10- to 15-feet wide with preserved frescoes and mosaics.
Suggested duration
1-2 hours
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The area
Address
Neighborhood: Esquilino
Old school vibe from the very beginning is the only way to describe the Esquilino neighborhood. The Esquilino takes pride in being one of the oldest areas in Rome for its key location on one of the city’s famous seven hills. From an ancient neighborhood to its modern incarnation as a multicultural hub, Esquilino always has something going on—polyglot vendors debate street artists while kids play pick-up basketball games. Look around you: this area isn’t like the historic center. Liberty architecture, large piazzas, and long boulevards mix with archaic arches, secret side alleys, and beautiful churches like Santa Maria Maggiore.
Detailed Reviews: Reviews order informed by descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as cleanliness, atmosphere, general tips and location information.
Popular mentions

4.5
872 reviews
Excellent
677
Very good
139
Average
43
Poor
7
Terrible
6

A.J. Boyd
Rome, Italy85 contributions
The "scavi" (excavations) tour of the Vatican Necropolis is one of the not-to-be-missed opportunities in Rome, but it has to be booked well in advance. The whole reason for the site, size, and splendor of the world's largest and most famous church is revealed here. Because of the size, only groups of a dozen are allowed in at a time. Make the effort and make the visit!
Written January 1, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

casandra d
Orlando, FL53 contributions
Couples
My husband and I were so excited for this tour and it did not disappoint. We booked it about 2 months before our trip and it was quite simple. We showed up 15 minutes before our scheduled tour, went through security, and started right on time. Our tour guide spoke English well and was extremely knowledgeable. I’d say the tour lasted about an hour. Afterwards, we were able to walk up into Saint Peter’s Basilica. We were happy about this because the wait to get in had been about 2 hours all day. We personally did the tour for religious purposes but I would suggest it for anyone who is interested in history as well. This tour is definitely a hidden gem of Rome. Bring some water if you get warm easily because it was very humid underground.
Written February 11, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

The Spanish Steps Apartment
Rome, Italy23,797 contributions
Took my nephew and his friend to the Scavi Tour, and I went along as well since I had not been in over 10 years. Had a very good guide, easy to understand, good amount of information and explanation. Our group was nine people plus the guide. Always amazing to see these ancient burial chambers, as well as the shrine to St. Peter. Green cards were checked; masks and plastic gloves (provided) were required. It can get very warm, particularly when wearing the masks and gloves. Photos are not permitted on the tour.
Written March 15, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Amy R
Katy, TX109 contributions
We started off our first full day in Rome with this tour. It was a very interesting and humbling experience to walk underneath St. Peter's on ancient Roman streets and see St. Peter's bones. It is humid, as you are underground, so be prepared for that. Our guide was a seminarian and he was very engaging and knowledgeable. Definitely one of the most unique tours in the city.
Written October 8, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

juliehughes814
Woodland, CA11 contributions
I was so amazed and disappointed that the Scavi office refused to refund our tickets or even give a credit for a future visit! Our tickets were for March 15th, 2020. The entire country of Italy is on lockdown because of Coronavirus, with all public places closed including restaurants etc. The USA has banned incoming flights from Italy. This is clearly an unusual situation, out of everyone's control, yet they refused a refund and even sent an extremely rude response, "Sorry but our offices are open and we don’t refund the entrance." Pretty much, tough luck.
Written March 13, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Paris V
London, UK40 contributions
This was a fascinating tour!!! Our lovelky tour guide (that I cannot recall his name unfortunately), had such a huge knowledge of the Necropolis of Vatican.
He was happy that I was Greek (as many of his words he used were Greek and he kind of included me in the tour)... Interraction is always a good thing.
We were a group of 6 due to COVID-19, but I believe we all enjoyed that tour.
Attention on the detail and huge knowledge kept us hanging on his every word!
Really enjoyed it and all the preautions for the pandemic was in place accordingly.
Fantastic!
Written September 24, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Angie D
Ames, IA55 contributions
As soon as you find out you are going to Rome, get on the Vatican's Scavi website and book your trip to the Necropolis! It is a cheap tour of one of the most sacred places in Christendom. Be sure to wear some comfortable shoes with good traction, as it is largely rock and such, but it's a truly and completely humbling experience. I've been through twice, and both guides were wonderful and knowledgeable.
Written August 20, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Cali_Cake
San Francisco, California116 contributions
This is one of the coolest things we did in Vatican City. It's not well published, and you need to plan in advance to take advantage of the tour. Basically, you're going under the Basilica to see the original catacombs & original tomb of St. Peter. The whole thing is very "Da Vinci Code" feeling, as you'll be taken down into a sliding glass panel for entry.

A few notes:
- it is VERY hot & humid (at least it was in July)
- it could be a bit claustrophobic
- you must cover your arms & legs (men too - no shorts)
- hint: my hubby & kids wore shorts, but we bought some scarves to wrap sarong style

If you want tickets (necessary) email your name, dates, & language preference to: scavi@fsp.va. They'll write you back, asking you to prepay 12 euro for each ticket. All in all, it was very cool & unique. The highlight for me was at the end, when you pass all the pope tombs.
Written September 26, 2011
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Julie S
Virginia4,304 contributions
We were lucky enough to get tickets on a Scavi tour since there was only one tour during Holy Week while we were there. We are Catholic, but anyone would appreciate this tour as it's also about history and how they used the old buildings in Rome.

The tour starts off with an explanation of how St. Peter's was built on an old cemetary and how they discovered the Necropolis. They just filled the cemetary up with dirt and built right on top of it! You see many interesting things like old streets and mausoleums, but the highlight for us was St. Peter's burial site and bones. Our guide explained all of this very well and made sure everyone in the group saw the things he was pointing out.

The tour is obviously underground and in smaller spaces. If you're extremely claustrophobic you might have issues, but most rooms were large enough for all 12 of us and our guide to easily fit into. A few of the hallways were narrow, but they led to larger rooms.

My husband is an engineer, so all of the building on old buildings was very interesting to him. Being Catholic didn't hurt either. :)

Sadly, they do not allow cameras on the tour. It would have been great to take pics down there, but I can understand why it's not allowed. They also don't allow larger bags. Luckily we arrived early so that when they told me my small messenger bag was too big to take I still had time to drop it off at the bag check.

If you can get tickets I highly recommend this tour. I'm so glad we did it!
Written June 1, 2011
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Steven D
Baltimore, MD216 contributions
Solo
The tour of the Scavi was one of the highlights of my visit to Rome. The tour takes you back in time to the period of St. Peter's death and burial. What today is two stories underground was originally ground level outside the walls of Rome. The necropolis was originally buried when Emperor Constantine built the first church on the site of St. Peter's grave. The necropolis was partially excavated in the 1940's and at that time they discovered the tomb of St. Peter which sits directly below the main alter of the basilica. The tomb was set amid a number of family crypts that are in a good state of preservation since they were undisturbed at the ground was leveled for St. Peter's.

To obtain a ticket I sent an email to the Scavi Office. They are the only one's who issue the tickets. There is another necropolis on the Vatican Museums website, but that is for the necropolis of the Via Triumpalis.On the web site of the Scavi Office you will find all of the information that you need to send when requesting a tour. It helps if you can give them several days/times when your schedule is open as there a very limited number of places available. The tour takes approximately 90 minutes, plus about 15 minutes to go through security and get to the meeting point.

It took a couple of days to receive a reply which gave my date and time along with instructions on paying for the ticket in advance online to the tour. You need to take the receipt for your payment with you on the day of the tour.

The entrance to the tour is at the gate just outside the colonnade to the left of the basilica. You will not be allowed through the gate until about 15 minutes before the time of your tour and you will need to show the guard your receipt for the ticket. You will go through a metal detector/security screening before entering the gate. They enforce a dress code, so no shorts or bare shoulders are allowed. You are not permitted to carry bulky bags, back packs or large cameras and there is no place past the gate to store these items. Photos are not permitted anywhere inside the Scavi. The Swiss guard will give you directions to the Scavi Office. You need to go into the office to pick up your actual ticket, and then will be instructed to wait outside until the time for your tour.

Before you enter the Scavi the guide will give you a bit of history and description. This might begin outside the building and continues inside on the grotto/crypt level. After that you descend a set of stairs and go through a security door. Immediately you will be hit with the heat and humidity that is the climate in the excavations. By the end of my tour, all of us were sweating so plan accordingly. If you have breathing problems or are claustrophobic, this isn't a tour you should take.

Inside you will be walking a narrow ally between the original above ground family crypts. The crypts are behind glass which is sealed and had some condensation, but not enough to obstruct the view. My guide explained that they never enter the sealed area, so the condensation isn't cleaned off the glass.

You will be walking up a slight hill towards St. Peter's grave. Back when it was excavated they entered the tomb and removed the bones of a man the age of St. Peter. Along with the marking on the original structure surrounding the tomb the Pope announced that this was indeed the grave of St. Peter. The bones were returned to the grave. The grave is two stories directly below the main alter of the basilica. The actual crypt is about 15 feet from you at the nearest point. If you happen to have binoculars with you on your trip, they could be useful here. My guide said you can see the jaw bone of the saint through a small opening, but I can't confirm that.

You exit the Scavi by climbing a set of stairs to the grottos/crypt below St. Peter's. From there you will exit on the right hand side of the basilica and you are within the secured area so you can enter the basilica without having to go through the long line waiting to be screened to enter St. Peter's.

You will find a virtual tour of the necropolis on the Scavi Office web site. It follows the route of the tour and gives a good presentation of what is on the tour.
Written November 23, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Vatican Necropolis

Vatican Necropolis is open:
  • Mon - Fri 9:00 AM - 6:00 PM
  • Sat - Sat 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Buy tickets in advance on Tripadvisor. If you book with Tripadvisor, you can cancel at least 24 hours before the start date of your tour for a full refund.

We recommend booking Vatican Necropolis tours ahead of time to secure your spot. If you book with Tripadvisor, you can cancel up to 24 hours before your tour starts for a full refund. See all 6 Vatican Necropolis tours on Tripadvisor