Explore the highlights of early Christian Rome with this exciting 3-hour afternoon walking tour via foot and coach. Led by a knowledgeable driver-guide, get an insider's view of the Eternal City and its Christian history. Stops include the Basilica of Sant Maria Maggiore, the Basilica of St. John Lateran. And then go underground by checking out the intriguing catacombs, an early Christian burial spot just outside of the city at the Appian Way.
3-hour coach and walking tour of Rome’s early Christian highlights with an expert guide
Visit the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, one of Rome’s five great ancient basilicas
See its gold mosaics, marble columns and richly decorated chapels
View the Holy Stairs, said to have been climbed by Jesus to his trial in Pontius Pilate’s palace
Admire the ornate Basilica of St John Lateran, the first church built in Rome
Explore the tunnels used as burial places and hideouts by Rome’s early Christians
This 3-hour afternoon guided tour of Christian Rome is an excellent way to learn the history of the faith and the city. After getting picked up at your hotel and meeting your guide, learn about the early history of the Church in Rome and how the city was a major influence on Christianity today. Visit the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, a cavernous 5th-century church that today has a Baroque appearance. Stroll around the huge church with your guide learning about the history of the building and then head to San Giovanni in Laterano, otherwise known as the Basilica of St. John Lateran, the historic and official church of the pope. Go inside and walk around and then head next door to the Lateran Palace where the supposed steps of Pontius Pilate, known from the Biblical account of the trial and crucifixion of Jesus, exist. Today pilgrims ascend the 28 steps on their knees. At the top of the steps is the Holy of Holies, otherwise known as the Sancta Sanctorum, the erstwhile resting place for some of the most legendary relics in Church history: a chunk of the table that held the Last Supper, the heads of Saints Peter and Paul and the Holy Foreskin, the only piece of flesh Christ could have conceivably left on Earth, said to have been given to Pope Leo III by Charles the Great in 800 AD. Next, trace the Appian Way, the famous ancient Roman road, passing the Chapel of Domine Quo Vadis, reputed to stand where St Peter saw a vision of the risen Christ. Arrive at Rome’s catacombs – the nearly 186 miles (300 kilometers) of tunnels used as burial chambers and hideouts by early Christians. Then, depending on accessibility, explore the San Castillo, Santa Domitilla or San Sebastiano tunnels to see the burial niches, frescoes and other treasures lying inside. Lastly, take in views of the Baths of Emperor Caracalla, the ruins of a 3rd-century Roman bathhouse. Then, end your tour at the start point or your choice of several city-center locations.
We booked this tour expecting to see some special Christian locations and learn about them from the historical context of the religion of Christianity. The first stop at the catacombs was quite interesting and the local guide there was good. We had a fairly small group so it was not hard to stay together and hear everything that she had to tell us. The other tour stops were interesting but brief, and again we would have liked to learn more about them. Our guide presented the tour in 2 languages (English and Spanish), seeming to spend more time speaking to the Spanish group. I'm not sure if he was more comfortable with the language or not, but we felt that we basically got less than 1/2 of the information we expected. Additionally, our tour was advertised to include a viewing of the Holy Steps across the street from the Archbasilica of Saint John in Laterano, but we did not stop there and no announcement was made about the exclusion. I don't know if the site was closed (its web site said it was open) or if the itinerary of our tour changed, but this was a big disappointment since these steps had been opened to the public for the first time in 300 years during our visit and we booked this tour specifically to experience this rare opportunity. We should have been notified and we would have arranged to visit this location on our own.
The information and tour were enjoyable but we started out bad. We arrived at meeting destination and they loaded us on a bus. We sat and sat for at least 20 minutes in the heat with no air and no open windows. People began getting off and were told we needed to stay on. It was terribly hot! Not sure what we were waiting on but we should never have been loaded until it was time to depart. There were some really upset people. Including myself.
This was an excellent tour - we were driven to visit the Domatilla catacombs and then to St. John Lateran and Maria Maggiore Churches. Our tour guide was excellent and gave a wealth of information about the sites we visited. Well-worth the ticket price - thank you!
This tour was good to see these sights that were not as easy to get to by walking from the more central attractions of Rome, especially the catacombs. However, we were on a full sized bus with at least 40 people and there were four different languages spoken. There were two guides for this group. One led the Spanish speaking people and the other led the English, French and Italian speaking people. So we had to listen to three iterations of each topic along the tour route, which was distracting and a bit confusing. Besides that, there were no audio devices provided to assist with hearing the guide while visiting the sights, which is an essential need for these tours. If you want the most from these tours, stay CLOSE to the guide!
There were sights in Rome I don't think we would have gone to if we hadn't done this tour the catacombs, the holy stairs, Basilica of St John Lateran. The tour group was quite large and just wish we had headsets so it was easier to hear the tour guides.