Catacombe di San Gennaro

Catacombs of San Gennaro - Catacombs of St. Januarius

Useful Information

Location: Basilica dell'Incoronata Madre del Buon Consiglio, Via Capodimonte, 13, 80136 Napoli.
Entrance at the northeastern corner of the Basilica dell'Incoronata Madre del Buon Consiglio, across the street. Ticket office inside the basilica.
(40.8650574, 14.2473645)
Open: All year Mon-Tue, Thu-Sun, Hol 10-17, last entry 17.
Tours hourly.
Fee: Adults EUR 13, Children (6-17) EUR 6, Children (0-5) free, Students EUR 9, Seniors EUR 9, Disabled free.
Tickets also valid for Catacombe di San Gaudioso.
Classification: SubterraneaCatacomb
Light: LightLED Lighting
Dimension: T=15 °C.
Guided tours: D=1 h. English Italiano - Italian
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: disabled access possible with reservation
Address: Catacombe di San Gennaro, Via Capodimonte, 13, 80136 Napoli NA, Tel: +39-081-744-3714. E-mail:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


2009 LED light system installed by the Officina dei Talenti, a cooperative of young people from Rione Sanità.


The Catacombe di San Gennaro (Catacombs of St. Januarius) are located below the Basilica dell'Incoronata Madre del Buon Consiglio. San Gennaro is the patron saint of Naples. The catacombs were dug into a layer of 14,000 years old volcanic tuff, a yellow vulcanoclastite. The officil description say that they "extend on two levels which are not superimposed". In other words, there are actually two different catacombs about 180 m apart, which share the same name. As the rock is the same on both locations, both are characterized by much larger spaces than the more famous Roman catacombs. The tuff is rather soft, and so it was quite easy to dig large caverns, no need to restrict the size overly. The chambers are up to 6 m high, with huge main passages and numerous side branches and tombs cut into the walls.

The catacombs were started in the 2nd century, probably as the tomb of a noble family, who then provided spaces for the Christian community. In the 4th century, the remains of St. Agrippinus were buried in the catacombs. He was the first Patron Saint of Naples, and immediately the veneration started, the catacombs became an underground basilica dedicated to him. The main chamber is a single nave dug out of the tuff, which still preserves a bishop's chair carved into the rock. The altar has an opening, in which the faithful could see and touch the saint's tomb. The basilica has frescoes from the 5th century and is part of the Sacred Mile that goes from the tomb of San Gennaro to its treasure.

As we already mentioned, there are actually two catacombs, and it is unclear why they are united with the same name, as they are actually almost 200 m apart. They have no connection except for the fact that they are visited with the same tour. The catacombe inferiore (lower catacomb) extends around the underground Basilica of Sant'Agrippino. It has a reticulated, more or less symmetric structure. The vestibule is up to 6 m high and contains a large baptismal font commissioned by Bishop Paul II. He took refuge in the Catacombs of San Gennaro during iconoclastic struggles in the 8th century. The catacombe superiore (upper catacomb) is the burial place of the bishops and dated from the 3rd century. This is the part where San Gennaro's remains were buried in the 5th century, which transformed it into a pilgrimage site. The underground basilica has three naves.

The origins of San Gennaro are uncertain, but he was probably born in 272 and was bishop of Benevento. He was arrested in the 4th century for professing the Christian faith and beheaded in Pozzuoli in 305. As a result the Christians considered him a martyr, his blood was preserved in two phials, and his remains were buried in Agro Marciano. During the 5th century he was brought to Naples by the Bishop John I and buried in the Catacombe di San Gennaro. In 472 he became the patron saint of Naples. The remains were stolen by the Lombard prince Sico I in 831 and brought to Benevento, he obviously argued that this was his home as had been one of the first bishops here. Later they were moved to the sanctuary of Montevergine, where they were forgotten for over two centuries. When they were rediscovered there were many years of negotiations with the monks of Montevergine, bvut finally in 1497 the bones were returned to Naples. The locals affectionately call him Faccia Gialla (Yellow Face) due to the colour of the face of the statue that is carried in processions. However, he is the most loved and popularly acclaimed patron, but not the only one. Naples actually has 52 patrons, which makes it the city with the most patrons. The only Italian city that comes close is Venice, which has 25.

Both catacombs and the nearby Catacombe di San Gaudioso, as well as the Cimitero delle Fontanelle were equipped with a new LED light system over the last decade. In 2009 Officina dei Talenti, a cooperative of young people from Rione Sanità, used LED technology to preserve the paintings and mosaics. The light system, unlike incandescent light bulbs, does not emit infrared or ultraviolet light, so they do not bleach them or harm them otherwise. The new system also includes radon detection, video surveillance, and moisture sensors. It's possible to control the whole system with an app, for this purpose Wi-Fi was installed, and guides are able to contol the light system as well as audio and video hardware. The renovation had numerous other innovative aspects. All the architectural barriers were removed and walkways and ramps installed, so that the site became accessible to everyone. Also, tactile tour relief plates for blind visitors were installed.