Everything About the Vatican Grottoes & Vatican Necropolis!

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The Vatican Grottoes and Vatican Necropolis are underground burial areas from 4th-century ancient Rome, directly under St Peter’s Basilica.

These spaces have deep historical and religious significance, housing some of the oldest holy artifacts of Rome.

Visitors planning to explore the mysterious underground areas of the Vatican must know everything about the grottoes and Necropolis in detail to plan the best experience.

In this article, we’ll explore the Vatican Grottoes and Necropolis’ hallways and chambers in-depth, from ticket details, timings, main attractions, and much more! 

About Vatican Grottoes – Timings, Tickets, Entrances and More

The Vatican Grottoes, known as the Papal Tombs, is located 3 to 11 meters below St. Peter’s Basilica.

They house the remains of 91 Popes and members of the Royal family, along with many holy chapels used by Christians to conduct funerary rites in the past.

You must know about some important details before visiting the Papal Tombs to have the most informative experience! 


The Grottoes follow the same timings as the St Peter’s Basilica, and you can visit from 7 am to 7 pm in the months from April to September.

The Papal Tombs are open from 7 am to 6.30 pm from October to March. 

They usually close earlier than the Basilica, so ensure the visit is completed at least an hour before. 


You can enter the Papal Tombs under St Peter’s Basilica for free!

We recommend booking a St Peter’s Basilica Guided Tour so you can enjoy the most informative experience with a professional guide.  


You will find the Vatican Grottoes entrance beside the Papal Altar, below the massive statue of St. Andrews.

Visitors can easily get here by entering the Basilica through the main entrance after waiting in line. 

How to reach

Ottaviano S. Pietro station is the closest metro stop to the Basilica, only a 12-minute walk away, and is the best way to get to the Grottoes. 

You can also hop on bus 40 or 64, getting you to the Basilica from Roma Termini. 


Must-see attractions in the Grottoes

  • Clementine Chapel
  • Pope Benedict XVI’s empty tomb
  • Queen Charlotte of Cyprus’ Tomb
  • Old St Peter’s Basilica Archeological Rooms
  • Chapel of St. Columbanus

About Vatican Necropolis – Timings, Tickets, Entrances and More

The Vatican Necropolis, also known as the Scavi, is the city of the dead, lying 5 to 12 meters under St Peter’s Basilica.

It is a vast network of underground tunnels and mausoleums from the 1st to the 4th century, which also houses the tomb of St. Peter!

Here are some essential details you need to know about the Scavi in Vatican City before planning to visit the spot! 


The Necropolis is open from 8 am to 6 pm, with the final tour being at 4.30 pm from Mondays to Fridays.

On Saturday, you can tour the underground chambers from 8 am to 2 pm, with the last tour beginning at 12.30 pm. 

It is closed on all Sundays and public holidays. 


Visitors looking to get a Vatican Necropolis tour must request the Excavations Office by going to the office in person or faxing to 39 06 69873017. 

Include the number of people, names, guide language, visiting dates, email address, fax number, and residential postal address. 

You can also email scavi@fsp.va and pay €13 for a single visitor. 

Ensure that the name and the email address of the person visiting the Necropolis are mentioned in the email if someone else is booking your ticket.

How to reach

Hop on a metro and get to Ottavino. S Pietro station is the closest station near St. Peter’s Basilica.

You can also take bus numbers 40 and 64. 


  • Only 200 visitors can enter the Necropolis at once.
  • Arrive at the meeting point 15 minutes before your time slot begins.
  • Follow the Vatican Dress Code
  • You must leave your big bags, cameras, single-fold umbrellas, and other sharp objects in the locker of St Peter’s Basilica.
  • Visitors under 15 years old are not allowed.
  • The tours are not recommended for those with mobility issues, claustrophobia, heart problems, and for pregnant women. 

Must-see artifacts in the Necropolis 

  • St. Peter’s Tomb,  located exactly at the west end of the Necropolis, besides some mausoleum structures at the base of a small Roman shrine, Aedicula. 
  • Ancient Mausoleums
  • Old St Peter’s Basilica construction pieces
  • Ancient Tombs

Insider Tips for Visiting the Vatican Grottoes and Necropolis 

Here are some helpful tips to ensure visitors have the best experience at the Grottoes and the sprawling Necropolis under St Peter’s Basilica!

  • Book your tickets for the Vatican Necropolis at least five months in advance to ensure you get the date you wish for. 
  • Wear breathable cotton clothes since the Vatican Necropolis is always kept at 95% humidity control to prevent damage.
  • Wear comfortable shoes with a firm grip as you will have to climb stairs inside the Necropolis.
  • Schedule your Vatican Grotto tour after visiting the Basilica since the exit is outside the Church.

FAQs on Vatican Grottoes and Vatican Necropolis 

1. Are the Vatican Grottoes free?

2. Who is buried in the Vatican Grottoes?

3. Who is buried in the Vatican Necropolis?

4. What is the difference between the Vatican Necropolis and the Vatican Grotto?

5. Where is the entrance to the Vatican Grotto?

6. Do I need tickets to see the Vatican Necropolis?

7. Is photography allowed in these underground tomb areas? 

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Featured Image: GetYourGuide.com

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