Crypta Neapolitana Naples

The Crypta Neapolitana in Naples is also known as the Cave of Posillipo. It is a 711-metre-long tunnel excavated in the tuff of the Posillipo Hill. This hill separates the districts of Mergellina and Fuorigrotta.

Crypta Neapolitana Naples

Location

Crypta Neapolitana Naples
Entrance

The entrance to the cave is in the Parco Vergiliano, the archaeological park behind the Santa Maria di Piedigrotta Church in the Mergellina district. From the park, however, one cannot visit the big one. However, one can walk into it on the other side, from Via di Grotta Vecchia, for a bit.

History and description

The Crypta Neapolitana is a long, small gallery that was originally about 4.5 metres wide and 5 metres high. It served as a connecting road between Neapolis and Puteoli, but is now out of use.

The tunnel dates back to the 1st century BC. Its builder was L. Cocceio Aucto, an architect of Agrippa.

According to tradition, the gallery was built overnight thanks to Virgil’s magical powers. When Robert of Anjou asked Petrarch whether this story could be true, the poet replied, “I have never read that Virgil was a stonemason”.

Over the centuries, the crypt was continuously widened, with the road surface also becoming lower. The last renovation took place in 1893.

Originally, the gallery was poorly lit. There were only two holes on the side that provided light and ventilation. During the Spanish rule, a system of lanterns suspended from cables connected by poles was introduced. During Napoleon’s time, two rows of lamps were installed, which were replaced by gas lamps in the mid-19th century.

After the completion of the traffic tunnels to Fuorigrotta, the Crypta Neopolitana fell in disuse.

Crypta Neapolitana, Naples

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