“The City of the Dead” open to visitors. Historic decision by the Vatican

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4 min readNov 25, 2023

The underground “City of the Dead” will, for the first time in history, be open to visitors. Until now, access to the ancient necropolis was limited to scientists.

[Photo: Carole Raddato from FRANKFURT, Germany, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons]

The Vatican Museums are immensely popular among the faithful and beyond. In 2022, over 5 million people admired the greatest treasures of the popes. While this number is impressive, let’s recall that from 2014 to 2019, the number of visitors exceeded 6 million, with a record close to 6.9 million. It’s possible that this record will soon be surpassed because the interiors of the ancient “City of the Dead” have just been made accessible to visitors, previously unavailable to casual passersby.

“The City of the Dead” open to visitors

What exactly is the underground “City of the Dead”? It’s a colloquial name for the ancient necropolis on Via Triumphalis, discovered in 1956 during construction work. After nearly five decades, all the uncovered parts of the cemetery have finally been connected into a whole. Although the place has always attracted considerable interest, only accredited experts in archaeology and scientific personnel had access to it.

Since November 17, 2023, the doors to the underground “City of the Dead” have been open to everyone for the first time in history. Entry to the Via Triumphalis Necropolis is possible through the newest and rarely used gate called Porta di Santa Rosa. As the Vatican services emphasize, visitors can find it within the Vatican walls, near Piazza Risorgimento, approximately 5 minutes on foot from Ottaviano metro station.

The opening of the ancient necropolis at Via Triumphalis is accompanied by an exhibition titled “Life and Death in the Rome of Emperors.” Tickets can be purchased online through the official Vatican Museums website.

[Photo: Carole Raddato from FRANKFURT, Germany, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons]

What does the necropolis at Via Triumphalis hold?

According to experts’ findings, the tombs located in the underground of the ancient necropolis beneath the Vatican date from the 1st to the 4th…

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