The Vatican Necropolis
The Vatican Necropolis is located under the Vatican City, at a depth of 5 to 12 meters below Saint Peter’s Basilica. Major archaeological excavations took place under Saint Peter’s in the years 1940 to 1949, with the sponsorship of the Vatican. This excavation work was done at the request of the then Pope Pius XI who wanted to be buried very close to Peter the Apostle.  St  Peter is believed to have been the first Pope. It is said that he was martyred in a Roman Circus and that his remains were then buried at the site of the Vatican. These excavations were done so as to locate the actual site of the grave of St. Peter, which had been assumed to be under St. Peter’s Basilica.

The Necropolis of the Vatican is also home to the Tomb of the Julii family (The family of Julius Ceaser). During Ancient times people were not allowed to be buried within the walls of the city of Rome and this led to the establishment of the Vatican necropolis. The Vatican necropolis was originally established as a burial place built on the southern slope of the Vatican Hill. The Vatican hill was located next to a circus built by Emperor Caligula.

There have been some reconstructions done in the Vatican necropolis including one reconstruction in the area around the grave of the Apostle Peter. Some archaeologists who were involved in the early excavations of the Vatican necropolis in search of St. Peter’s grave suggested that at the time of the construction of Constantinian basilica, the remains of the Apostle Peter were removed from his original grave and placed in the opening.

Every year, millions of people from different parts of the world visit the Vatican for various reasons. A big percentage of these people visit the Vatican necropolis, the place where Peter the Apostle and other popes are believed to have been buried. This site is one of the holiest places in Rome. Saint Peter was crucified on Nero’s circus in the center of St. Peter’s Basilica and his body was moved and buried to a cemetery. According to history, this cemetery is said to be the current Vatican necropolis .Many people who take a tour of Vatican  appreciate the conservancy of this place.There are guided tours which can be arranged in advance online in different languages. You will be taken through the chambers until you reach the Tomb of Saint Peter.In the tours you will enjoy magnificent monuments, inscriptions and works of art which symbolize the history of Christianity and the City of Vatican. A tour of Vatican necropolis will last approximately one hour and fifteen minutes. Please note that only a small group of people of between ten and fifteen is allowed in at a time. On a tour of the area you can also enjoy the view of Vatican hill, the Vatican Gardens, museums, St. Peter’s Square, and the Apostolic Palace, among other monuments.