Catacombs of Kom ash-Shuqqafa - History and Facts | History Hit

Catacombs of Kom ash-Shuqqafa

Alexandria, Alexandria Governorate, Egypt

The Catacombs of Kom ash-Shuqqafa are underground Ancient Roman tombs in Alexandria, Egypt.

Image Credit: Clemens Schmillen, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

About Catacombs of Kom ash-Shuqqafa

The Catacombs of Kom ash-Shuqqafa in Alexandria, Egypt, are an incredible set of subterranean Ancient Roman tombs. Made up of three levels containing 300 bodies, the Catacombs of Kom ash-Shuqqafa represent the true sophistication of Ancient Roman engineering. This site also features as one of our Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Egypt.

History of Catacombs of Kom ash-Shuqqafa

Located in Alexandria, Egypt, the Catacombs of Kom ash-Shuqqafa (which translates to ‘Mound of Shards’) are considered to be one of the Seven Wonders of the Middle Ages.

They were only rediscovered in 1900 when a donkey accidentally fell down one of the shafts leading into the catacombs.

Built in around the second century AD, the Catacombs of Kom ash-Shuqqafa were likely originally created as a family tomb, but over the successive 300 years of its use, were expanded to accommodate 300 bodies. The catacombs consist of three levels which are cut into solid rock, and have a six-pillared central shaft which opens off the vestibule.

Within these three levels are a maze of rooms and passageways, including the triclinium, a banqueting hall for the relatives of the deceased at the time of the burial and at every anniversary of their death, and the main tomb.

Within the necropolis are a number of statues and archaeological objects of the Pharaonic funeral cult with Hellenistic and early Imperial Roman influences. Fascinatingly, the ornate decorations inside the catacombs are an eclectic blend of Roman, Greek and Egyptian; for instance, some statues are Egyptian in style, yet bear Roman clothes and hair styles.

Catacombs of Kom ash-Shuqqafa Today

Today, visitors can reach the first level down a spiral staircase, which is where bodies were lowered on ropes, and then through a breach in the rotunda wall. This leads to the Hall of Caracalla where the bones of both humans and horses were found.

Whilst the bottom floor is now inaccessible due to flooding, the Catacombs of Kom ash-Shuqqafa remain a truly incredible site.

You can easily walk to the catacombs from Pompey’s Pillar, which is also located in Carmous.

Getting to Catacombs of Kom ash-Shuqqafa

From the centre of Alexandria, the Catacombs of Kom ash-Shuqqafa are reachable in around 15 minutes by car via Kanal Al Mahmoudeya Al Bahri. For a long-ish walk through Alexandria’s scenic centre, the catacombs are reachable in around 50 minutes from the centre via Grinfel.

As aforementioned, you can reach the site from Pompey’s Pillar in about 7 minutes via Amood Al Swari/Pompey’s Pillar and Al Imam Al Azam.


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