The Zona Antica

The Zona Antica ( A )

The visitor enters the Cemetery by the Zona Vecchia, but if we turn left, pass the Visitors Centre, and go through the wall arch we come to the Parte Antica. As the name suggests, this is the oldest part of the Cemetery and looks out over the beautiful ancient Roman Caius Cestius Pyramid. The garden here is flat and grassy and the graves are scattered in a very informal fashion. This is where the first recorded burial – that of Dr Arthur from Edinburgh took place in 1716 though, sadly, the gravesite no longer exists. The majority of those buried here were Protestant members of the court of King James III of England and Ireland, in exile in Rome from 1718, or foreigners visiting Rome on the Grand Tour.

It is probable that many more people were interred here whose burial markers have not survived. Some of them might have been buried in the area at the foot of the Pyramid – in fact an ossuary on the bottom right of the zone contains the remains of George Langton, a young Welshman, who died in 1738 and was originally buried in that area.

The oldest surviving tombstone is that of the young nobleman from Hannover, George Werpup and is dated 1765. It was prohibited by the papal authorities for Protestants to have a cross or any references to the afterlife on tombstones, so stonemasons made use of other symbols on the monuments – plants such as the olive, which symbolised peace, or the ouroboros, the snake eating its own tail, which had the meaning of infinity or wholeness.

Notice also how many of the tombstones are inspired by classical models: the monument to Anne Synnot for example, is a copy of the ancient Roman sarcophagus of Scipione. This area contains gravestones by Piranesi and Thorwaldsen as well as those of two young members of the von Humboldt family and that of the English Romantic poet John Keats. In 1821, this area was closed by the papal authorities who, from 1822 allocated a small area of land – the area now known as the Zona Vecchia to the Protestants for the burial of their dead.

Nature lovers will note the beautiful array of considerably old trees in this zone – large umbrella pines, laurels, cypresses and cercis siliquastrum, better known as Judas trees that produce beautiful pink blossoms in the springtime. As this is the nearest zone to the offices of the cat shelter, it is almost always possible to see one or two felines dozing in this area.

Route map

  • Use two-finger touch gestures to pan and zoom the map
  • Tap on Satellite to activate the rotate map function
  • Tap on numbers to show the grave at that position


Time: About 30 minutes.

Difficulty: Easy

Tips: The route only covers the Zona Antica. Many graves are not on the main path and you need to use location references or photos to locate them. During the tour, inside the cemetery, it is strictly forbidden to smoke, drink and consume food, lean or sit on the graves and film in the cemetery. For information on the type of photos allowed, you can refer to the Visitor Center. It is also advisable to wear comfortable shoes for the walk and to pay attention to the large roots on the paths, especially in the Zona Seconda and we suggest you bring protective cream during the hottest period.


Please find below the stages of this route:

  1. Von Humboldt, Gustavo Frederico Costantino
  2. Son of the diplomat Wilhelm von Humboldt, founder of the Humboldt University of Berlin. Read More

  3. Von Humboldt, A.A.F.C. Wilhelm
  4. Son of the diplomatic Wilhelm von Humboldt, founder of the Humboldt University of Berlin. Read More

  5. Severn, Joseph
  6. British consul, painter and friend of John Keats, assisted the poet in Rome in the last months of his illness. Read More

    Zone: A Position: 65

  7. Keats, John
  8. One of the main figures of the Second Generation of Romantic poets, along with Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley. Read More

    Zone: A Position: 51

  9. Langton, George Lewis
  10. The first burial in the Cemetery of which we still have physical traces. Read More

    Zone: A Position: 1

  11. Shelley, William
  12. Son of renowned writer Mary Shelley and poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. Read More

    Zone: A Position: 39

  13. Werpup, Georg A. F. Von
  14. He was Auditor of the Accounts of Hannover Canzlei in 1760 and Councilor in 1762. Read More

  15. Macdonald, James
  16. Scottish aristocrat. Read More

    Zone: A Position: 3

  17. Synnot, Walter (Sir)
  18. Sir Walter synnot is an Anglo-Irish landowner. Read More

    Zone: A Position: 54

  19. Bowles, William Sidney
  20. Was the heir to Burford House, Shropshire, England, and married Elizabeth Rushout in 1797. Read More

    Zone: A Position: 18
The complete guide to find a grave

All the graves of the Non-Catholic Cemetery can be located through the position details that can be read within each single buried person’s page or gravestone’s page itself.

Exact position can be located by 4 simple fields: The Area (Zona), The quarter (Riquadro), The Row (Fila) and The Position (Posizione).


The Areas (Zona)

The Non-Catholic cemetery of Rome is composed by 5 large areas. All areas are bounded by walkable paths, so they are very easy to locate.

ATTENTION: We gently remind to all visitors that the Antica(A) area is a flat and grassy garden, and the graves are scattered in a very informal fashion. Furthermore we suggest you to exclusively refer to the walk’s map and also to the photo of the gravestone to locate the exact position.


The quarter* (Riquadro) *valid only for the Terza Zona (3)

The quarter is strictly related to the Terza Zona of the cemetery.

This area is divided into 4 quadrants numbered as shown in this map.

Only the graves in the Terza Zona will have the quarter indicated in the position information.

The field that represent the quarter will be empty/not visible in each other grave except the graves in the Terza Zona.

Please note that to identify any tomb it is always possible to refer to the walk’s map and to the photo of the grave.





The Row (Fila) 

The graves in the cemetery are mostly laid out in ordered rows.

Only the Zona Antica(A) and the tombs along the walls, for example ossuaries, are an exception.

In order to count the row number it is necessary to recognize the lower part of the cemetery as a reference. The Non-Catholic cemetery in fact extends over a slight slope (except for the Zona Antica which is flat but does not have rows).

The first row will always be the one at the lowest level compared to the others.

Once the first row is identified it will be easy to count all the others rows.



The Position (Posizione)

It is used to locate the grave within the reference row.

The position can be identified by counting the graves from left to right.

The count must be made always starting from the left end of the area where the tomb is located.