/ / Catacombs of San Giovanni: photo description (Catacombe di San Giovanni)

Catacombs of San Giovanni: photo description (Catacombe di San Giovanni)

The catacombs of San Giovanni - the ancient catacombs in Siracusa, dated 4-6 centuries BC. In the late 19th - early 20th century, they carefully studied by the archaeologist Paolo Orsi, one of the prominent researchers of the prehistoric heritage of Italy. Today it is the only catacombs in Syracuse that are open to the public, which makes them one of the most popular tourist attractions.

Available in Syracuse catacombs it is the catacombs of San Giovanni are the most late - they served as a cemetery for the local Christian community in the 4-6 centuries ad, when the persecution of Jesus ' followers had stopped. Maybe that's why they have a clear plan and elaborately decorated - their creators did not need to hide. Still not installed, was buried here any Holy. And the crypt with the ashes of the first Bishop of Syracuse's history, now part of Museum complex "catacombs of San Giovanni", was originally located separately from the cemetery and only recently entered into its composition. In the crypt you can see a few frescoes depicting the Madonna and child with various saints, made during the Byzantine era and until the 17th century.

The name catacombs is derived from the name of the Church of St. John the Evangelist (San Giovanni in Italian), built in Norman times, over the crypt of St. Marcian. The Church was originally Romanesque style, was later added Gothic elements, but during the earthquake of 1693 it was destroyed.

Despite the fact that the catacombs were abandoned from the 6th century, they had been known. In the late 19th century the archaeologist Saverio Cavallari found here a well-preserved sarcophagus of the 5th century, which is called the sarcophagus of Adelfia. It then began a detailed study of early Christian cemeteries, which, as mentioned above, carried out by Paolo Orsi. During the Second World war during air raids in the dungeons of the catacombs was a shelter for the residents of Syracuse. Today the ruins of the Church of San Giovanni and the crypt of San Marciano and the catacombs are part of a unified Museum complex and open to tourists.

Since the catacombs were created at the site of the ancient aqueduct, they have a clear plan - wide Central gallery with several secondary tunnels and circular rooms called rotundas. A feature of the catacombs of San Giovanni is the lack of family graves as cubical - their place is taken by large arcosolia. The latter was a deep arch, under which lie up to 20 bodies. Among other types of burials can be noted loculi in the shape of rectangular recesses in the walls, burials in the floor where there are poor members of the community, and sarcophagi.