Managers of the Vatican Museums are preparing to inaugurate a new entrance to the Necropolis of the Via Triumphalis. This unique archeological site, an outstanding example of an ancient Roman burial ground, has for years been included among the Vatican’s museums. Now, however, the new entryway is expected to streamline entry for tours and visitors.
Discovered in 1939, after the death of Pope Pius XI, the necropolis is a vast network of ancient burial chambers that is located between 5 and 12 meters below St. Peter’s Basilica. Archaeologists believe it is the final resting place of St. Peter, among other saints and martyrs. It remains a significant archeological site for our historical understanding of the burial practices of ancient Rome.
According to a press release, the new entrance will make it possible to access the necropolis from the Porta di Santa Rosa gate. Constructed in 1929 and closed shortly after, this is the gate ordered open by Pope Benedict XVI to ease entry for cars and pedestrians in 2005. This monumental entrance overlooks the Piazza Risorgimento, one of the main Italian roads that leads to Vatican City.
The decision to separate the necropolis from the Vatican Museums was made to address higher than average demand to visit the archaeological site in recent years. The new entryway is expected to make the necropolis more accessible, as well as clearing crowds in the Vatican Museums.
The new door to the necropolis, where visitors will learn about life and death in ancient Rome, will formally open on November 17, 2023. In preparation for the upcoming Year of Jubilee, the Vatican is organizing a guided tour experience. Previously, tours of the necropolis were always combined with that of the Vatican Museums or Vatican Gardens. The new tour, solely focused on the necropolis, is expected to be a richly cultural offering from the Vatican that will educate on the ancient Roman burial practices.
Visits to the Necropolis of the Via Triumphalis are currently only available to schedule on Fridays and Saturdays. Booking is exclusively online at the website of the Vatican Museums. Click here to learn more and schedule your visit to the necropolis today.