Just outside the ancient walls of the city, near the Neapolis Archaeological Park, stands the Church of San Giovanni alle Catacombe in all its beauty.
The evocative open-air church houses two treasures dug into the rock in its cellars: the crypt of St. Marciano and the catacombs of San Giovanni .
The catacomb of San Giovanni dates back to 315 AD and was in use until the 5th century.
A web of dark and mysterious tunnels carved into the limestone, they form a labyrinth.
From a main tunnel called the decumanus maximus, which was originally a Greek aqueduct, ten secondary tunnels, called the cardines, branch off at right angles.
Along this underground grid it is possible to observe different types of tombs : the loculus, the arcosolium and the forma. From the galleries it is possible to access larger circular spaces: the cubicula , covered by a dome with a central skylight.
These rooms house chapels and tombs for martyrs or the most illustrious people.
Inside the chapels, or next to the entry openings, some glass ampullae were found, kept at the “Paolo Orsi” Archaeological Museum in Syracuse.
Five chapels named Eusebio, Sette Vergini, Antiochia, Anonima and Adelfia were discovered.
The latter owes its name to a sarcophagus found in 1827 by the archaeologist Francesco Saverio Cavallari , on which is carved the portrait of the couple Adelphia and Lucius Aradius Valerius Proculus, a governor of Sicily.
The numerous epigraphs found inside the catacomb have given us important information, not only from an iconographic point of view, but also from a historical and social point of view: the inscription from the 5th century AD of Euskia, for example, found in 1894 by the archaeologist Paolo Orsi , is the oldest testimony of the devotion and worship of St. Lucia in Syracuse.