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Visit the Syracuse Catacombs: history and opening hours

The history of Syracuse has its origins in ancient times. Today it is possible to explore Aretusean history by walking through a veritable underground labyrinth. The catacombs of Syracuse are among the most beautiful and evocative places to visit in the city. Extensive tunnels that unravel in the belly of the earth narrate a history thousands of years old and filled with sacredness.

It is now possible to visit three groups of catacombs: the catacomb of Santa Lucia, dating back to the second century A.D., the catacomb of Vigna Cassia and the Bambin Gesù, from the third century A.D., and the more famous catacomb of San Giovanni.

We will not anticipate your visit with photos: get ready to discover for the first time the catacombs of Syracuse.

La Basilica di San Giovanni Evangelista
The Basilica of St. John the Evangelist

The catacomb of San Giovanni

Moving just outside the city center, not far from the Neapolis Archaeological Park, is the imposing Basilica of St. John the Evangelist (Basilica di San Giovanni Evangelista), an open-air church that holds a precious treasure in its basement: the catacomb of St. John (San Giovanni) and the painted Crypt of St. Marcianus.

Excavated within the limestone rock, the catacombs appear as a sacred labyrinth where silence reigns. The structure is divided by a main gallery, the Decumanum Maximus, from which ten other galleries, called Cardines, develop. At the bottom of each are circular burial chapels, which were carved out of ancient cisterns for collecting water and later used to bury important people of the time.

In addition to the burial chapels, one encounters the Refrigerium, a tomb in which the ancient ritual of the funeral banquet was practiced to "feed" the soul of the deceased.

One of the most important sarcophagi of the ancient Christian world, namely the Sarcophagus of Adelfia, on which the nativity of Jesus is depicted, was also found here.

Finally, a number of epigraphs of great historical and cultural importance have been found. These include the inscription of Eskia, one of the oldest testimonies to the devotion and worship of Saint Lucy in Syracuse.

Opening hours and tickets

The opening hours of the Catacombs of St. John vary depending on the season:

  • November through February are open Tuesday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

  • March through June are open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

  • July and August are open daily from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2:30 to 5:30 p.m.

  • September and October are open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Full tickets are priced at €8, while reduced tickets are valid for groups, children under 16, people over 65, military and law enforcement and cost €5.

Contact us for information and to arrange your visit to the Catacombs of St. John in Syracuse.

How to get there

The entrance is located at Via San Giovanni alle Catacombe, 1. You can reach the Catacombs of San Giovanni on foot with a walk of about 30 minutes. You can otherwise ask our staff for bicycles provided free of charge by the Hotel Algilà, or book a taxi at a discounted rate by asking at the reception.


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