St Agatha Street, Rabat , Malta
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday 9:00 - 17:00
- Adults: € 5.00
- Youth: € 3.50
- Child: € 2.50
St Paul's Catacombs represent the oldest and the largest evidence in the Christianity on the Maltese islands. St Paul's Catacombs consists of two large areas more than 2000 square meters littered with more than 30 underground burial chambers of which the main complex comprises a complex system of interconnected passages and tombs. St Paul's catacombs derive their name from proximity to St Paul's Church and St Paul's Grotto. They are locate in Rabat, on the outskirts of the old Roman capital Mdina, specifically of the Roman law prohibited burials within the city.
Much larger examples of Roman catacombs maybe found in Rome but the uniqueness of these subterranean cemeteries lies in their unique showcase of the Maltese underground architecture.
Entrance to the main complex of St Paul's Catacombs leads to two large halls, decked out with pillars made to resemble Doric columns and painted plasters most of which have now disappeared. The halls are equipped with two circular tables set in a low platform with slopping sides hewn out in one piece from the living rock, which resemble the reclining couch present in Roman houses. These are known as Agape Tables and they were most likely used to host commemorative meals during the annual festival of the dead.
St Paul's Catacombs are thought to have been abandoned during the period of Saracen occupation of the island, when burial customs changed. However parts of them were put back into service again during re-Christianisation of the island somewhere around the 13th century.
Once again St Paul's Catacombs were abandoned again and the site fell into despair until it was cleared and investigated in 1894 by Dr A.A.Caruana - the pioneer of Christian archaeology in Malta.