Vatican unveils restored catacombs with Google Maps tour

November 19, 2013

The Vatican on Tuesday unveiled a series of catacombs used by early Christians in Rome after a major restoration, including an online virtual tour by Google Maps offering a glimpse into the underground wonders.

The Priscilla catacombs where Christians worshipped and buried their own are re-opening to the public after five years of work in which restorers used lasers to clean up the religious frescoes on the walls.

The Vatican's culture minister, Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, said the catacombs "were a living and breathing symbol of the first Christians, of their daily lives", as he took guests through the subterranean passages.

"This is where our roots are," Ravasi said.

A new function on Google Maps allows users to take a limited tour of the vast complex under Rome's Villa Ada park and gaze at the interiors with a 360-degree view like the one used above-ground for Street View.

A new museum on the site also opening to the public brings together some 700 fragments of finely-sculpted sarcophaguses found in the catacombs, which combine pagan and Christian burial traditions.

The Priscilla catacombs, which date back nearly 2,000 years and were built inside what used to be a quarry, are considered the most interesting in Rome and include a basilica where pope Sylvester (314-335) is buried.

Explore further: Archeologist says Holy Grail is in Rome

Related Stories

Pope to quit Twitter after stepping down

February 23, 2013

The pope's official Twitter account, which has more than two million followers in nine languages, will close next week when Benedict XVI leaves office, Vatican Radio said Friday.

Are Christians becoming more 'green'?

July 24, 2013

Despite the wide-held perception that Christians have become more concerned about the environment, new research finds this so-called "greening of Christianity" is not evident among the religious rank-and-file.

Recommended for you

The ethics of robot love

November 25, 2015

There was to have been a conference in Malaysia last week called Love and Sex with Robots but it was cancelled. Malaysian police branded it "illegal" and "ridiculous". "There is nothing scientific about sex with robots," ...

Glider pilots aim for the stratosphere

November 20, 2015

Talk about serendipity. Einar Enevoldson was strolling past a scientist's office in 1991 when he noticed a freshly printed image tacked to the wall. He was thunderstruck; it showed faint particles in the sky that proved something ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Nov 20, 2013
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
1 / 5 (2) Nov 20, 2013
♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦Want to do a part time job....?♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦
Work less, Earn more..Start working at home with Google. It's the most-financialy rewarding I've ever done. On tuesday I got a gorgeous BMW after having earned $7439 this last month. I actually started five months/ago and was bringin in at least $74, per-hour. visit this site right here

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.