The word catacomb comes from Greek kata kumbas (L. ad catacumbas), "near the low place" and originally it meant a certain burial district in Rome. It can refer to any network of caves, grottos, or subterranean place that is used for the burial of the dead, or it can refer to a specific underground burial place.
Famous examples are:
- Catacombs of Rome, in Rome, Italy
- Catacombs of Paris, in Paris, France
- Kom al Sukkfa , Catacombs of Alexandria, Egypt
- Catacombs of Malta in the island of Malta.
There are also catacomb-like burial chambers in Anatolia, Turkey; in Susa, North Africa; in Naples, Italy; in Syracuse, Italy; Trier, Germany; Kiev, Ukraine. Capuchin catacombs of Palermo, Sicily were used as late as 1920s.
In Ukraine and Russia, catacomb (used in the local languages' plural catacomby) also refers to the network of abandoned caves and tunnels earlier used to mine stone, especially limestone. Such catacombs are situated in Crimea and the Black Sea coast of these two countries. The most famous are catacomby beneath Odessa and Ajimushkay, Crimea, Ukraine. They served as bases for Soviet World War II guerillas (see also Great Patriotic War). Ajimushkay catacombs hosted about 10.000 fighters and refugees. Many of them died and were buried there, and memorials and museums were later established (it is now a territory of Kerch city).