History of Christianity Tour with Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel, Rome Catacombs and Appian Way
Skip lines at Vatican Museums and Catacombs
A great way to spend the day experiencing the history of art, culture, and Christianity in Rome. First you will visit the burial grounds of both ancient early Christians in Rome and Franciscan Friars before spending the afternoon at the Vatican.
- Capuchin Crypt
- Private Luxury Transportation
- Catacombs of Domitilla
- Ancient Frescoes
- Appian Way
- Vatican Museums Tour
- Galleries of the Candelabra, Tapestries and Maps
- Sistine Chapel
- Raphael Rooms
- Borgia Apartments
- Laocoön and His Sons
- Nero's Bath
- St. Peter's Basilica
- La Pietà by Michelangelo
- Bernini's "Baldacchino"
An amazing way to journey through the history of Rome, on the morning tour you will experience the ancient burial grounds of the early Christians at the Catacombs of Domitilla, one of the world's oldest highways with the Appian Way, and the crypt where thousands of friars are buried in elaborate bone structures. In the afternoon you will explore Vatican City on our Skip the Line Vatican Tour with Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica. This tour will visit areas of the Vatican Museums that most tours overlook in addition to spending plenty of time to revel in the beauty of the Sistine Chapel. This 8 hour tour includes:
-Skip the Line tickets to the Catacombs of Domitilla and Capuchin Crypts
-Skip the Line access to the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica
-Expert English Speaking Storyteller Guide
-Private Luxury Transportation to and from the Catacombs and Appian Way
Please note: Because some of the sites on this small group tour are religious, knees and shoulders must be covered for both men and women at all times. This dress code is strictly enforced and should you not comply, you run the risk of missing parts of the tour. We know that Rome gets quite hot during the summertime - please consider bringing a shawl/scarf/sweater with you to cover your knees and shoulders when necessary.
Located under the Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini Church, the Capuchin Crypts are the first stop on this tour. Here you will see the macabre aspect of catacombs as 3,700 Capuchin monks are buried here in elaborate bone structures. Many of these structures are built to represent Christian symbols, and as your guide will explain it has caused some controversy.
The crypt is divided into 5 chapels; Crypt of the Resurrection, Crypt of the Skulls, Crypt of the Pelvises, Crypt of the Leg Bones and Thigh Bones and Crypt of the Three Skeletons. Many of these skeletons are found fully intact still in their Franciscan attire. The crypts provide a eery and exciting Catacombs experience.
The Domitilla Catacombs
The oldest network of Catacombs in Rome, the Catacombs of Domitilla date back to the Second Century CE. Located 50 feet below ground this nearly 10 mile long maze of tunnels acted as the burial grounds for early Christians. The Catacombs were constructed outside the city to maintain sanitary conditions in the city as early Christianity did not allow for the cremation of bodies.
As the Catacombs were built during a time where Christians were looked down upon and persecuted, the tunnels acted as a safe haven where they could practice, pray and socialize in peace. The Catacombs also include incredible early Christian art including an intact fresco of the Last Supper which is nearly 2,000 years old.
Please note: The Domatilla Catacombs will be closed from mid-December to mid-January. In the case that your tour falls within this time, you will visit the Catacombs of St. Callixtus instead.
The Appian Way and Aurelian Walls
The second set of walls surrounding Rome, the outer Aurelian walls were built in the third century CE to stave off Barbarian invasion. We will visit the Aurelian Walls in our climate-controlled vehicle to see them as we exit the city. Outside the city you'll walk along the ancient Appian Way. One of ancient Rome's longest highways, it connected Rome to Magna Grecia, the area of southern Italy controlled by the Greeks.
Here you will walk on the same road that led Roman armies millennia ago. One of the original seven roads into Rome, the Appian Way went from all the way to Brindisi in modern day Puglia. The road is currently the address of Rome's Catacombs and is a great view into ancient life. On the way to the Catacombs and Appian Way we will visit the Aurelian Walls. These walls were constructed around the city by the emperor Aurelian to protect Rome from the incoming barbarian invasions that eventually led to the fall of the Empire.
Highlights of the Vatican
Observe the Gallery of the Candelabra, Gallery of the Tapestries and the Roman Guy's favorite, the Gallery of the Maps. Based on painted topographical maps of the Italian peninsula by Dominican Italian friar Ignazio Danti, the Gallery of Maps is both beautiful and informative. The painted frescoes reveal the detail Renaissance Italians knew of geography and the regions they identified with. The maps dating from around 1580 are nearly 300 years older than the united Italy. These maps also show the importance of the Italian peninsula as an entity before the Italian state.
Raphael - The School of Athens
Most famously the location of the School of Athens, the Raphael Rooms are one of the Vatican's best galleries. Full of paintings and frescoes by Raphael and his disciples, the gallery is an amazing overview of Renaissance art. Raphael is the quintessential artist of the High Renaissance and is part of the trinity of great Renaissance masters along with Michelangelo and Da Vinci.
Down the hall from the Raphael Rooms, the Borgia Apartments are example of Papal extravagance. Commissioned by Pope Alexander VI to be his personal chambers. The chambers were painted in beautiful frescoes by Pinturicchio, a contemporary of Raphael who studied under the same master Perugino. Pinturicchio's style is unique as he wold embed jewels below his painting to create the effect of three dimensions on his frescoes. The Borgia Apartments are also home to the first depiction of Native Americans by Europeans.
Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel
One of the most impressive and celebrated works of art in world history, the Sistine Chapel is Michelangelo's ultimate masterpiece. Spend time in solace stating at the intricacies and depth of the amazing fresco above. Silence in the Sistine Chapel is strictly enforced as it is a place of worship and holiness. Before entering, your guide will describe what to look out for and amazing stories regarding the Michelangelo and the Chapel.
St. Peter’s Basilica Reserved Entrance
The last stop on the tour is St. Peter's Basilica. A massive church the size of two football fields and the capital of the Catholic Church, we will enter through a special door directly from the Sistine Chapel. This access saves up to hours of time as the general line into St. Peter's can be thousands of people long. Before saying arrivaderci you will visit Michelangelo's Pietà statue as well as Bernini's Baldacchino.
Important: Remember, it isn’t possible to return to the Vatican Museums from St. Peter’s Basilica. If you want more time inside the museums, you must forgo the guided tour of the basilica. Also, if you’d like to stay in St. Peter's Basilica longer, don't leave with the guide to take photos in the piazza. Because the security line is long and re-entry on your own is not recommended, we suggest you stay inside St. Peter’s and explore on your own after the tour concludes.
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History comes alive!
As someone who is very interested in Christian history, this tour was perfect for me. The tours of the Vatican and of the Catacombs are experiences that I will never forget.
This was a great tour to see everything I wanted to see in Rome
What a cool experience. I grew up learning about all of this so to be able to see it all in person was really important to me. I couldn't have asked for a better tour!
Frequently Asked Questions
Where to meet?
Piazza Barberini - in front of the Fontana del Tritone. A representative will be there holding a sign with our company name on it.
What to bring?
The Vatican dress code dictates you cover your knees and shoulders. If you do not meet the dress code, you may be denied entry! No need to dress like the people living there, covering your knees and shoulders is sufficient. Wear comfortable shoes.
Q: Is there a dress code to enter the religious sites on this tour?
A: We ask both men and women to cover knees and shoulders, otherwise you may be refused entry to religious sites and miss out on a portion of your tour. We understand the summers in Rome can be hot, so a great alternative is to bring a shawl/scarf/sweater with you. That way, you can cover your knees and shoulders when necessary.
Q: Why does my kid 6 or under have to pay? C'mon!
A: Sorry about this. We're parents too and we understand! Unfortunately, they must be seated due to traffic regulations so they take up a seat in our vehicle. We even bring a car seat for children who require one. If it makes you feel any better, we don't make money off your kids for this tour.
Q: Why doesn't this tour run on Sundays?
A: The Vatican as well Via Appia Antica, the road we travel on to access the Catacombs, are closed on Sundays.
Q: Will we see bones?
A: Yes! This tour visits the Church of Santa Maria della Concezione which houses a 17th-century ossuary under it. There you will see the bones of around 4,000 Capuchin friars!
Q: What Catacomb does this tour visit?
A: Usually the Catacombs of San Domitilla, although if there is any closure we will substitute the site with another catacomb site nearby.
Q: Will the Vatican Museums be crowded during this tour?
A: The Vatican is often slow in the late afternoon, but there is a chance the museums may be crowded while we are inside.
Q: Does the Vatican ever experience unexpected closures?
A: During State visits or special religious events, parts of the Vatican may be closed unexpectedly. If an area normally covered on a tour is closed, our guide will still provide explanations of the closed areas from outside. Plus, we will show you an extra site or gallery to compensate.
Q: I have some doubts about my mobility. What do you suggest?
A: If you have any doubts about your mobility, we strongly suggest you take a Vatican Private Tour.
Q: Is there a way to see the Vatican without a guided tour?
A: Of course. Click here for skip the line Vatican tickets.
Q: Does this tour always visit every artwork listed?
Often artwork undergoes restorations or is loaned to another museum as an exhibit. Our itinerary will include the stop if it is open to be seen. If not, we will add a substitute.