THE JEWISH CATACOMBS
Duration: 2.5 – 3 hours Starting time: Varied
Sunday – Friday
Semi-private tour (6 guests max). Private available upon request
Meeting Point: Hotel Lobby
Join me on an unforgettable experience through underground Rome as we explore the Vigna Randanini Jewish Catacombs. These are the only Jewish catacombs accessible to the public, adjacent to the large Christian catacombs along the ancient Appian Way.
Access to the catacombs is highly restricted. Few travellers ever get to see them. Fortunately, I have developed a close working relationship with their only living custodian who has granted me the prized access to this portal into the past.
Meeting at your hotel lobby, we venture out towards the Vigna Randanini Jewish Catacombs
Our journey to the Vigna Randanini Jewish Catacombs takes us outside Rome’s city walls, parallel to Rome’s first road: the ancient Appian Way.
As we travel, I’ll tell you all about this historical route out of the city and the wealth treasures and catacombs that line it.
Gear up and venture inside the Vigna Randanini Jewish Catacombs
These catacombs were discovered by accident in 1859 (to the great surprise of archaeologists). Equipping yourself with a hard-hat and flashlight, you will unleash your “inner archaeologist” as you explore the catacombs in search of the historical roots of Rome’s Jewish population.
The Vigna Randinini Jewish Catacombs cover an area of 18,000 square meters – their tunnels stretching on for some 720 meters. This tour will walk you through the 450 meters that are accessible (though only in the company of an experienced and professional guide).
Discover Jewish tomb and symbols deep within the catacombs
Your Jewish Catacombs tour will nourish you with a deep knowledge of the symbols, customs, traditions, and daily lives of Rome’s ancient Jews. You will observe, first hand, the unique structure of the site as a whole and of the individual tombs and (kôchim) within the broader context of Greco-Roman catacomb culture.
The Vigna Randanini Catacombs are smaller than their Christian counterparts, perhaps owing to the poverty of the Jewish community and their tendency to shun ostentation. But while small in size, they are rich in symbolism, exhibiting such Old Testament and Talmudic symbols as the Menorah, Ark of the Covenant, and many floral and faunal motifs.
Stumble upon a synagogue in the depths of the catacombs
Archaeologists believe the catacombs once even housed a synagogue, where Jews could worship safe from the threat of state persecution. I will take you here and, from the surviving elements, we can judge for ourselves.
This tour is a must if you want to immerse yourself in Jewish culture of the Roman Empire and is the perfect companion to my Jewish Ancient Rome tour. See what people have had to say about it on my TripAdvisor page.