The capital of Italy is one of the most-visited cities in the world, with millions making the trip each year to admire the ancient architecture, stunning panoramas, and world-class museums. Sometimes, you need a little break from the crowds—and where better to go than underground? Due to its ancient history, Rome is host to a number of interesting subterranean sites. If you’re visiting the Eternal City and need to escape the busy streets, head to one of these fascinating destinations.
Mithraeum, San Clemente
The church of San Clemente is a beautiful building, but beneath its floors lies an even more stunning secret. For a couple of euros entrance fee, you can descend down some steps, into an ancient temple dedicated to the pagan god Mithras. The tunnels beneath the church are quite extensive, and you can spend a good hour exploring and admiring this once-holy space. The cult of Mithras is shrouded in mystery, and it’s hard to deny that this temple site is infused with a certain secrecy. Unlike the sites above ground, the Mithraeum is usually quite empty and peaceful.
Capuchin Crypt, Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini
Close by the Barberini Metro station is this incredible, slightly creepy, site. Between 1500 and 1870, almost 4000 Capuchin monks agreed for their bones to be put on display in the crypt, as a reminder of mortality for the living to come and contemplate. It costs around ten euros to enter and the site takes around half an hour to walk around. An unforgettable experience, and one far off the typical tourist’s beaten track.
Stadium of Domitian, Piazza Navona
Piazza Navona is one of the most famous squares in Rome, and is constantly bustling with people. If you need to seek some solitude, head below the square, to view the remains of the Stadium of Domitian. Open to the public since 2014, this is a rare example of a masonry stadium. Use an audio guide to understand more about this special site, and take your time as you admire the ancient ruins which remain hidden to most people.