The Catacombs of San Gennaro are the oldest and, dedicated to the city’s patron saint, holiest catacombs in Naples. Of historical interest is the oldest existing portrait of San Gennaro himself on display there.
San Gennaro Catacombs Naples
Opening Hours, Entrance and Address
The entrance to the Catacomba di San Gennaro is on Via di Capomonte, 13 – 80131 Naples (tel. +39 081 744 34 17). Bus: 2M, 178, 460, C63, C67, N4, N8, R4. Opening hours are from 10:00 to 17:00 (Sundays and holidays 10:00 to 13:00). Admission: 8 Euro; 65+ and 18-: 5 Euro; ArteCard holders: 4 Euro.
History of the San Gennaro Catacombs in Naples
This Catacombe has been a pilgrimage destination since St. Januarius of Benevento was interred in the 5th century in the catacombs in what is today the Capodimonte district. Januarius, incidentally, had already died a martyr’s death around the year 305.
The catacombs themselves are much older. The nucleus was probably the tomb of a wealthy Roman family. The halls and halls contain frescoes painted in the 2nd century, various types of tombs, and mosaics made in the 5th century.
There are three types of tombs, which also more or less indicate the social class to which the person buried there belonged.
The Cubiculum was an open space, with colorful murals. The space was closed off with a fence. This is where the wealthy were buried. An example is a room to the left of the entrance with a fresco of a mother, father and child. This fresco was painted in three layers, one for each death.
A Loculum was a small niche in the wall used by the citizens.
Poor people had to do hot with floor tombs, which were called Forma.
There are two underground basilicas, the Basilica Minore and the Basilica Maggiore. In the former the tombs of San Gennaro himself and of Giovanni I, the Archbishop of Naples who had the martyr’s remains brought from Pozzuoli to the catacomb in the 5th century, are preserved. The side of the tomb of San Gennaro is decorated with the aforementioned oldest image of the saint himself, with Mount Vesuvius and Monte Somma on his shoulders.
Until the 11th century, all the bishops of Naples were buried in this catacomb. Sant’Agrippino, the 6th bishop of Naples, was the first Christian to find his final resting place here.
In the 9th century, the Lombard prince Sico I of Benevento had the remains of San Gennaro removed.
Close to the basilica minore is a 3rd century tomb, decorated with an image of three women (the three virtues) building a castle (the church). Other images on this tomb are of a more pagan nature.
In the lower level of the catacombs, discovered much later and dating from the 2nd century, many typically pagan decorations can be seen.