The San Gennaro Catacombs (or Catacombe di San Gennaro), located in the Rione Sanità district of Naples, are both unique and unforgettable. A symbol of the city's fascination with the afterlife and the strong, daily connection with the deceased, the catacombs blend pagan and religious beliefs with folklore, tradition, and superstition. In addition to a unique glimpse into this facet of local culture, a visit to the Catacombe di San Gennaro provides the opportunity to explore Naples underground, taking in the caves and caverns that have been used by Neapolitans for centuries for shelter, storage, and—of course—burials.
Location: Via Capodimonte, 13 – 80136 Naples
Hours: From Monday to Saturday 10AM to 5PM. Sundays from 10AM to 2PM.
Duration of the visit: About 2 hours
Ticket price: €9; children under 6 free
Directions: bus 168, 178, C63, R4 (Basilica Incoronata - Catacombe San Gennaro stop)
What Are the Catacombe di San Gennaro?
The Catacombe di San Gennaro are an extensive ancient burial site (the oldest part of the site dates back to the second century AD), with two levels of tombs dating from different time periods and with different characteristics. Archaeologists estimate that the tombs contain the remains of around 3,000 burials, though only a portion have been excavated.
Inside the Catacombe di San Gennaro, you can also visit the Cripta dei Vescovi (Crypt of the Bishops) where the city's bishops were buried, as well as an underground basilica with three naves, known as the Basilica Adjecta. One of the highlights of the site is the Tomba di San Gennaro (San Gennaro's Tomb), where relics of Naples' beloved patron saint where placed during the 5th century (they are currently held in the city's cathedral, il "Duomo di Napoli").
Claustrofobia? No problem!
Thanks to the unique properties of Vesuvian tufa stone, the Catacombe di San Gennaro are composed of relatively large caverns (the ceilings of the lower level of catacombs are as high as six meters in places), so those who are uncomfortable in small, enclosed spaces should have no trouble. Keep in mind that there is lighting provided by an LED system added in 2009 by the Officina dei Talenti, a youth organization in the Rione Sanità district.
The entrance to the Catacombe di San Gennaro is located on Via Capodimonte, n.13 and can be reached by car, taxi, or bus.
You can reach the Catacombe di San Gennaro from the historic center in about 15 minutes by catching bus 168, 178, C63, or R4. Get on at the Museo Nazionale stop and off at the Basilica Incoronata - Catacombe San Gennaro stop.
If you have a car, you can reach the Catacombe di San Gennaro via Naples' Tangenziale (beltline). Get off at the Capodimonte exit (number 5) and turn right onto Via Capodimonte. There is free parking for visitors.
Visiting the Catacombe di San Gennaro
The San Gennaro Catacombs are open daily: Monday to Saturday from 10AM to 5PM and Sunday from 10AM to 2PM. The site is closed on Christmas Day.
Tickets to enter the Catacombe di San Gennaro, which include a tour in English and Italian, cost EUR 9; kids between 6 and 18 years of age pay EUR 5; students and visitors over 65 pay EUR 6. Guided tours depart hourly from the ticket window on Via Capodimonte, n. 13 near the Basilica Madre del Buon Consiglio (we recommend arriving 15 minutes before the tour begins). The same ticket is good for 12 months to enter the San Gaudioso Catacombs (Catacombe di San Gaudioso).
Bring a jacket!
The temperature inside the Catacombe di San Gennaro stays at a cool 15 to 22 degrees C. We suggest bringing a light jacket or sweater, even during the summer months (in particular during the summer, when the difference between outside and inside temperatures can be uncomfortable). We also suggest choosing comfortable shoes to visit the Catacombe di San Gennaro.
On Sunday mornings, you can also book a Catacombe di San Gennaro tour that is part of a larger itinerary that focuses on the life of San Gennaro and takes in a number of sites in the Rione Sanità district (“Miglio Sacro Tour” (Holy Mile Tour) tickets cost EUR 15/person; Italian only).
The Catacombe di San Gennaro is the only site of its kind that is completely accessible to visitors with limited mobility, thanks to a number of specifically built walkways and ramps. The disabled entrance is located on Vicoletto S. Gennaro dei Poveri, n. 22 (contact the staff in advance for access). Visits to the Catacombe di San Gennaro for the visually impaired can also be booked in advance, which follow a dedicated route with tactile panels.
Dining Near the Catacombe
The Catacombe di San Gennaro are located near the majestic Basilica di Capodimonte and Museo di Capodimonte. After visiting the catacombs, continue with the theme of the Naples' culture of the dead by moving on to the nearby Sanità neighborhood to visit the San Gaudioso Catacombs and Cimitero delle Fontanelle.
In this area, you can stop for pizza at Starita or Concettina a tre Santi. Satisfy your sweet tooth by sampling a "fiocchi di neve" at Pasticceria Poppella.