The non-catholic cemetery of Rome: all you need to know about Rome protestant cemetery

by marta

All you need to know to visit the non-catholic cemetery of Rome: tips + graves of notice you cannot miss in the protestant cemetery of Rome.

The non-catholic cemetery of Rome is a beautiful, tranquil and secluded corner of the city.

Known by many as the final resting place of poets John Keats and Percy Bysshe Shelley, the cemetery is a green and pleasant place.

A contained space with lawns, flowers and cypress trees, the cemetery evokes the tranquillity of English-style graveyards, from which takes inspiration and is stunning.

I believe it is one of the best photo spots in Rome and I recommend it to visitors who want to see Rome off the beaten path and see a slightly different side of the city.

angel of grief sculpture at Rome non catholic cemetery
Angel of Grief, in Rome Protestant Cemetery

The non-catholic cemetery of Rome, the English Cemetery or the Protestant Cemetery of Rome?

The official name of this cemetery is ‘The Non-Catholic Cemetery of Rome’; however, the history of the place (see below) explains why you often hear this cemetery mentioned under different names.

Because of its connection with England, locals often refer to it as ‘the English cemetery’ (il cimitero inglese), ‘the cemetery of the English’ (il cimitero degli inglesi) or ‘the protestant cemetery’ (il cimitero protestante).

Image of the protestant cemetery of Rome, with graves and tall cypress trees

Why visit the non catholic cemetery of Rome

There are several reasons to visit Rome’s protestant cemetery.

The first one is that the cemetery is very beautiful.

Rome’s non catholic cemetery develops over a relatively small lot of land and has stunning flower-bearing trees, wisteria and leafy bushes.

Part of the cemetery overlooks Rome’s Pyramid, which looks beautiful from here.

Rome pyramid framed by wisteria, photo taken by the protestant cemetery of Rome

Other parts do not offer views but host stunning burial sculptures and imposing, towering cypress trees.

One of the most beautiful sculptures in Rome, the Angel of Grief, is here.

As well as its aesthetic values, the cemetery is the resting place of many intellects, writers and artists so if you are a fan of the work of Shelley, Keats, Gramsci or Camilleri, just to name a few, you will find this to be a pretty special place.

Non catholic cemetery of Rome on spring day with pink flowers

Rome protestant cemetery location and how to get there

The protestant cemetery is immediately outside Rome’s city center, not far from the Colosseum (15- 20 minutes walk).

Its address is Via Caio Cestio 6 and you can reach it on foot,  by Metro B (closest metro stop: Piramide) or bus.

The closest bus stops are tram 3 and all buses serving Porta San Paolo including 23, 30, 75, 77, 83, 280, 716, 719.

From the busy road, the cemetery is invisible: you access it from the little lane behind the Pyramid, and you quickly recognize it thanks to its beautiful dark gate.

Opening hours and entry: Monday-Saturday from 9.00 am to 5.00 pm (last entrance:4.30 pm)
Sundays and public holidays: 9.00 am to 1.00 pm (last entrance:12.30 pm)

There is no entry fee; visitors can leave a contribution to the maintenance of the place using the donation box near the entrance.

A guide to show you around the cemetery is usually available at the info point at the entrance: please enquire on the day for availability and price.

Famous graves in Rome protestant cemetery

The English cemetery of Rome has some illustrious guests, among which we find:

John Keats (1795 – 1921), English Romantic poet. John Keats tombstone famously bears the words ‘Here lies One Whose Name is writ in Water’

Joseph Severn (17733 – 1879), English portrait and subject painter and persona friend of Keats, beside whom he now rests

Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822), famous English Romantic poet

Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937), Italian philosopher, writer and thinker

Carlo Emilion Gadda, (1893 – 1973), Italian writer and poet, known for his innovative language and writing style

William Wetmot Story (1819-1895), American sculptor author of one of the most beautiful and impressive tombstones in the whole cemetery, the ‘Angel of Grief‘.

Hendrik Andersen (1872-1940), Norwegian sculpture with a beautiful family grave  

Thomas Jefferson Page (1808-1899), American explorer whose tomb is decorated with statues by Italian scupltor Ettore Ximenes.

Andrea Camilleri (1925-2019), Italian writer known to many for its books about Commissario Montalbano, also now a TV series that received international acclaim.

A brief history of Rome’s protestant cemetery

The cemetery dates back to the XVIII century and came into existence thanks to Pope Clement XI.

rome pyramid as seen from the non-catholic cemetery

At the time, the law prohibited the burial of protestants on consecrated grounds.

Some port cities such as Livorno and Venice did have dedicated areas; however, no such provisions existed in Rome.

In 1716, in response to the request of  English King James III of Stuart, the Pope granted permission for the first protestant burial in Rome, in the land beside the pyramid of Cestius.

After that first permission, many more followed and, slowly, the cemetery became the resting place of protestant supporters of the English throne, and of wealthy foreigners who happened to meet their fate in Rome.

In 1821, the Pope stopped the burials in the oldest burial grounds and authorised the use of a new area, just beside the previous one.

This area has been enlarged several times and got the size and shape we see today in 1894.

The cemetery was declared ‘culturally significant’ by the Mayor of Rome in 1910 and ‘monumental area of national interest’ in 1918. Since then, it has become a not-so-hidden-gem many enjoy visiting.

Visiting Rome’s protestant cemetery with kids

The protestant cemetery is a pretty, green place that you can easily visit with kids.

The cemetery is contained and while only partially stroller friendly, easy to manage even with little ones.

The area in front of the pyramid offers good views over the pyramid itself and a safe space for children and the colony of cats that lives here will keep them entertained.

The cemetery itself has interesting graves and sculptures that will pique the interest of school-age kids in particular.

Toddlers may enjoy the busier part of the cemetery that my kids call ‘the maze’: it has many small paths that indeed a little like a maze and can keep the kids entertained while you sightsee here.

Please note: due to the nature of the place, while toddlers can tot around, make sure you they respect the graves and the spirit of the place by keeping noice

What is nearby

I hope you enjoyed this quick guide to the non-catholic cemetery of Rome and it inspired you to visit. Safe travel planning!

Updated September 2021.

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