The Catacombs (Kom El-Shoukafa)

The Catacombs/(Kom El-Shoukafa)

Situated just to the west of Pompey's Pillar and also can be visited during the day trip to Alexandria from Cairo, the Catacombs of Kom El Shuqafa are the largest and most important burial site in Egypt. They date back to the Greco Roman period. Kom El Shuqafa, or the hill of treasures in the Arabic language, was unearthed by chance at the beginning of the 20th century.

Being the most important Greco Roman necropolis in Egypt, the Catacombs of Kom El Shuqafa have a mixture of Roman, Hellenistic, Pharaonic, and ancient Egyptian decorative art, elements that were all common during this period in Alexandria.

The Catacombs is visited regularly during Egypt Day Tours and it is Dating back to the 2nd century AD, this necropolis was dug inside the rock to a depth of 35 meters. It consists of three levels, all located under the ground level. However, due to flooding that occurred in this area, the lowest level is now inaccessible.

The Catacombs in Alexandria called that because the design was very similar to the Christian Catacombs of Rome. The Alexandrian catacombs were most likely a private tomb, later converted to a public cemetery. It consists of three burial chambers with three recesses on it and in each recess there is a sarcophagus.

As well, the Catacombs contain a large number of Luculi or grooves cut in the rock, where coffins are stored. For a long time, the 2nd level of the tomb was closed for visitors because it was submerged in underground water but after decreasing the level of the subsoil water in 1995, the 2nd level was opened to visitors. The lowest level is still submerged. The entrance leads to a spiral staircase of 99 steps that go around a shaft, which was used to lower the body of the deceased, by means of ropes, to prevent any damages to it. Some slits were cut into the sides of the shaft to allow the daylight to the staircase that was used by the visitors. The staircase leads to a vestibule with two niches on both sides. The top of each niche is in the shape of a shell, while the inferior part contains a half-round bench, cut into the rock, which was used by the visitors to take some rest after descending the stairs of the tomb.