Vatican Necropolis Tour
The twin cities of Rome and Vatican City are a treasure trove of interesting history, captivating art and architecture, and unearthed secrets. One such attraction is the iconic St. Peter’s Basilica -- a worldwide symbol of the Catholic Church and Renaissance-era art. While most travelers visit the basilica to admire the stunning artwork, sculptures, woodwork and frescoes, there more to it than meets the eye. Lying underneath the basilica is a secret: the Vatican Necropolis, an underground chamber that archaeologists believe holds the actual tomb of St. Peter.
Why Visit the Vatican Necropolis?
The Vatican Necropolis, or the Vatican Scavi, lies about five floors under St. Peter’s Basilica. Excavations began in the 1940s in an attempt to discover St. Peter’s tomb and several burial sites were located and identified. Taking a Vatican Necropolis tour is sure to be enlightening; you can explore the detailed network of mausoleums and tombs that lie directly beneath St. Peter’s Basilica. The cherry on top? You get the chance to visit what is considered to be the original burial site of the revered St. Peter.
Vatican Necropolis tickets are sold in limited quantity by the designated institution under the Catholic church. Only 200 visitors are allowed a day in groups of 12, in an effort to preserve the delicate fabric of the Vatican Scavi.
History of Vatican Necropolis
Archaeologists believe the Vatican Necropolis may date back to the ancient Roman age. It primarily served as Christian and Pagan burial grounds about 2000 years ago, which have been preserved and maintained to date. The original burial grounds were open-air sites dating back to between the 1st and 4th Centuries.
The Vatican Scavi was discovered in the 1940s on the orders of Pope Pius XII. He commissioned the excavation to locate the grave of St. Peter -- one of the 12 apostles of Jesus Christ -- as he wished to be buried close to him. Excavations revealed more; Emperor Constantine’s temple, 15 mausoleums, and Pagan and Christian burial grounds.
Since then, various restoration projects have been commissioned to preserve and maintain the ruins in the Vatican Necropolis.
Vatican Necropolis FAQ
Q. How do I get tickets to the Vatican Necropolis?
A. A tour of the Vatican Necropolis can be booked directly with the Scavi office. Bookings are to made in their specified format and in advance. Only 200 people are allowed per day in small groups of 12.
Q. How do I get to the Vatican Necropolis?
A. Your Vatican Necropolis tour includes a Church-approved tour guide who will accompany you along the way. You will meet them at the designated point near St. Peter’s Basilica and they will guide you along.
Q. Does my St. Peter’s Basilica ticket include a Vatican Scavi tour?
A. No. Your St. Peter’s Basilica ticket does not include access to the Vatican Scavi. You will have to purchase separate Vatican Scavi tours.
Q. Does my Vatican Scavi tour include a guided tour?
A. The Scavi institution provides a licensed guide to tour along with the visitors.
Q. What are Vatican Necropolis hours?
A. The Vatican Necropolis is open from 09:00 AM to 06:00 PM between Monday to Friday; on Saturday, it is open between 09:00 AM to 05:00 PM.
Q. Is photography allowed inside the Vatican Necropolis?
A. No. Photography is strictly forbidden inside the Vatican Necropolis.
Q. Is the Vatican Necropolis wheelchair accessible?
A. No. Owing to the underground depth and ruins of the Vatican Necropolis, it is unfortunately not wheelchair accessible.