In Pictures: Catacombs Across The World

In Pictures: Catacombs Across The World
In the Catacombs of Paris, a huge ossuary in some abandoned mines in Montparnasse Photo credit: Heracles Kritikos / Shutterstock,

Giving off a sense of mindful eeriness and decay, catacombs date back to Roman times

OT Staff
February 04 , 2023
02 Min Read

Death has been a fascinating, intriguing topic of discussion in many cultures around the world. The quest for securing an eventful afterlife had often driven post-death ceremonies in the medieval world. In such pursuit, people have created subterranean passageways for religious practise known as catacombs. Giving off a sense of mindful eeriness and decay, catacombs date back to the Roman times. The first system of these underground tombs go all the back to the 2nd and 3rd milestones of the Appian Way in Rome where the bodies of the apostle Peter and Paul are buried. If the creepiness of these meticulously crafted tunnels appeals to you, here are a list of catacombs from around the world you can plan a trip to. 

The catacombs in the French capital were built by Romans to overcome the overcrowding situation in the city. Possibly the most well-known of all the catacombs around the world, bones of 6 million individuals arranged aesthetically decorate the walls of the main ossuary. Today, you can explore this over 200-feet long labyrinth. While the majority of the tunnels remain off-reach, people still find a way to delve deeper into the hidden cemetery. An underground spring, a sepulchral lamp, and sculptures are other parts of this mystic location.


 The St.Paul's Catacombs in Rabat were part of the large cemetery located outside the ancient Greek city of Melite. A popular site for religious pilgrimage in the 12th century, the architectural dexterity symbolize the importance of the ritual in early Christendom. The main hall, whose entrance is embellished with Doric columns and painted plasters, is adorned with carvings of large circular tables and couches. Here, mourners would hold a wake to remember the deceased. Also observe how Christian, Jewish, and Pagan catacombs are laid side-by-side.   

The second largest ossuary in Europe after Paris was discovered accidentally during a routine dig of a construction project in Prague in 2001. Officially opened to tourists earlier this decade the catacomb is stuffed with nearly 50,000 skeletons. This forgotten underground house located beneath St. Jacob's Square is a particular highlight of this Czech town. The Eastern European destination which traces its roots back to the 5th century AD is an architectural hub with its modernist styled buildings and baroque designed cathedrals dominating its landscape.

The Romans, at their peak, conquered all of Europe spreading their ideology beyond the continent. Austria's St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna sits on top of the massive catacomb below. While the Cathedral's gorgeous architectural genius and multi-coloured roof garners major eyeballs- the catacomb beneath is often ignored, visited by only a handful. The onset of the bubonic plague in the 1730s forced the Austrian rule to react and shift the bodies of the dead into the catacomb to avoid a further spread. Bodies after bodies are neatly gathered and placed on top of one another.

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