A city below the city:
The subsoil of Naples is crossed by a large network of tunnels, tunnels, aqueducts and spaces excavated and used by man during the history of the city since several centuries forward Christ until a few years after the end of the second world war , and still today at least in part, visitable.
is a city in the city. Or rather, a city under the city.
The defining definition, and of common use, to define this vast network of tunnels, galleries and aqueducts is Naples Underground. The most famous is the Napoli Sotterranea which has its entrance in Piazza San Gaetano, in the historical center of Naples but in reality the pre-arranged sites to offer guided tours are 4. All have an invaluable value to offer its visitors.
Below you will find brief descriptions of the 4 pearls of the Neapolitan subsoil, that is,
- Naples Underground (Old Town)
- Bourbon Gallery
- Naples Underground Laes (Quartieri Spagnoli)
- Museum of the Underground
If you want to buy tickets, please click hereMUSEUM OF THE SOTTOSUOLO
Down below, seventy years ago, the roar of the bombs was muffled. But above it, on the surface, it was hell. The allied bombers had targeted Naples, gutting houses and buildings out of them. And people found refuge by taking refuge in the bowels of the earth. We are twenty-five meters deep, in the subsoil of Piazza Cavour. In that labyrinth of tunnels and tuff quarries, exploiting the cisterns of the Greco-Roman aqueduct, in the years of the Second World War saw the "light" one of the most famous anti-aircraft shelter of the whole city: a place frequented by thousands and thousands of Neapolitans. Well, in the same place, after more than half a century, thanks to the initiative and desire of the president of the Southern Speleological Center, Clemente Esposito, to condense, in a single environment, what the natural hypogeum has to offer the public, the Museo del Sottosuolo di Napoli has been created: a highly suggestive site, where centuries of Neapolitan history are condensed.
The entrance to the Museum is located a few steps from the Metro line 2: an anonymous little door, facing the street, welcomes the visitor, projecting it, as if by magic, on a journey back in time. Once inside, the terror that assaulted the Neapolitans under the bombardments is still perceived. "The anti-aircraft shelter" remained, in fact, that of the 40s: everywhere traces of life and everyday objects such as cups, ceramic insulators, glass bottles, written on the walls (drawn with charcoal) in which old slogans echo politicians and paintings depicting war scenes. But there is not only this.
In the underground museum a real riambientation work has been realized, rich of relics and testimonies of the time, that the public can admire in the wide rooms of the Cavour square: from oil lamps to ancient picks and tools used, in the over the centuries, by Neapolitan quarrymen; from the shards of amphora used to take water, to the ampoules and the medical equipment that once belonged to an ancient pharmacy found in the historical center.
The inside hall of the museum also hosts a small photographic exhibition, with some of the most beautiful natural caves in the world and the unpublished shots of the underground Naples. It is also possible to admire extraordinary 3D projections dedicated to the treasures of the Neapolitan subsoil and to the moments of the numerous speleological explorations that have been carried out over the years. Along the way that runs underground, in a kaleidoscope of lights and flashes, the vast permanent collection of colorful "riggiole". These are ancient majolica tiles that the Neapolitan masters have begun to work and produce since the seventeenth century.
THE UNDERGROUND NAPLES (Quartieri Spagnoli)
The term "underground Naples" indicates the dense and complex network of tunnels and cavities, which are located in the Neapolitan subsoil and which form a real city that traces, in negative, the surface city.
The underground city extends itself under the whole historical center, to it are linked myths and legends still alive today in the collective imagination of the Neapolitans. The galleries below Naples have been used in different ways over the centuries. Born as a result of the extraction of tuff for the construction of the city, they were then used as aqueducts and as a refuge during the Second World War.
The subsoil of Naples fascinates and impresses with the grandeur of the cavities, and therefore of the spaces, and for the maze of tunnels that intersect for several kilometers under the streets and buildings.
Descend into the bowels of the city to discover its history and mysteries through the city's most fascinating underground tour.
The guided tour is suitable for everyone and is particularly appreciated by children. It is a real time travel of 2400 years that starts from one of the alleys of the Spanish quarters, near Piazza del Plebiscito, and ends in Via Chiaia a few steps from the meeting point of Piazza Trieste and Trento.
The entrance to the underground Naples is in the Spanish quarters, precisely in vico S. Anna of Palazzo 52, close to via Toledo and the central Piazza del Plebiscito and Piazza Trieste e Trento where the meeting point is located (outside the Caffè Gambrinus) from where the visit to the underground Naples starts.
The route, which winds beneath the vociferous and characteristic streets of the historic center, is a collection of history, adventure and fun, able to engage, excite and excite, retracing the vicissitudes of the city along its 2800-year history. The Neapolitan subsoil is a world apart, still very unexplored, isolated in its quiet millenary yet closely connected to the city.
The association, founded in 1988 and recognized in 1996 by the Campania region as a body of regional importance for its educational and cultural activities, was the first to propose excursions in the Neapolitan subsoil and now boasts decades of experience in organizing and in the preparation of guided tours and events.
The times of visits do not change during the year and are:
10.00am, 12.00am, 4.30pm and 6.00pm
Sundays and holidays:
10.00 am, 11.00am, 12.00am, 4.30pm and 6.00pm
Piazza Trieste and Trento Meeting - (Bar Gambrinus)
The excursions last about 60 minutes
The Bourbon Gallery
On 19 February 1853 Ferdinando II di Borbone signed a decree with which he instructed arch. Errico Alvino - already an extraordinary commissioner for Via Chiaia and S. Ferdinando - to design an underground viaduct that, passing under Monte Echia, connected the Palazzo Reale with Piazza Vittoria, next to the sea and the barracks.
This decree had no social character at all; in fact, it contemplated the construction of a rapid military route, in defense of the Royal Palace, for the troops headquartered in the barracks of via Pace (now via Domenico Morelli), as well as a safe escape route for the monarchs themselves, given the risks they had run during the revolts of 1848.
The architect designed an excavation with a trapezoidal cross-section, shoe-shaped walls, width and height of 12 meters, divided into two tunnels for the opposite directions of travel. These tunnels had to be large, each 4 meters long and separated by a thin parapet supporting the gas lighting streetlights and finally equipped with 2 meters wide sidewalks.
The gallery directed to Chiaia had to have the name of "Galleria Reale" or "Strada Regia", while the tunnel in the opposite direction had to be called "Strada Regina", both would have left at the old cavalry barracks in the former Via Pace, but one would have reached Largo Carolina behind the colonnade of Piazza Plebiscito and the other Via Santa Lucia.
The works were completed in May 1855 after about 3 years of work done entirely by hand with picks, hammers and wedges, and with the help of lighting provided by torches and candles. On the 25th of the same month, the Bourbon Gallery was decorated and lavishly illuminated for the visit of Ferdinand II of Bourbon, remaining open to public transit for only 3 days. Numerous variations were made during the course of the work; For example, the dimensions of the entrances were modified, but above all, it was decided to continue after the "Carafa" quarries with a unique gallery and the project to open shops along the tunnel route was abandoned.In the following years, the project was suspended for economic reasons and for the varied political structure that led to the unity of Italy.
During the war period, between 1939 and 1945, the Gallery and some former adjacent cisterns were used as a shelter for the citizens; they found refuge between 5,000 and 10,000 Neapolitans, many of whom lost their homes during the numerous bombings suffered by the city both by the allies, first, and later by the Germans.
After the war and until 1970 the Galleria Borbonica was used as a Municipal Judicial Deposit where everything that had been extracted from the rubble caused by the two hundred bombardments suffered by Naples was stored; here everything that up until the '70s was recovered from collapses, evictions and seizures, was also accumulated.
In 2007 the geologists who worked in the gallery discovered a walled passage that separated it from another large cavity that had been readapted to a war shelter. In these environments the same geologists found another access to the shelters, which in the seventeenth century already constituted an entrance to the subsoil. The passage was used by the "pozzari" that took care of the maintenance of the aqueduct, consists of a narrow staircase of 75 steps in pesto pesto that reaches a local Vico del Grottone, behind the church of Piazza Plebiscito.
Friday, Saturday and Sunday:
from 9.00 to 17.30
Underground Naples (Piazza San Gaetano)
A substratum rich in history and linked to the rediscovery of a rare heritage, if not unique. Works of great civil engineering, left long abandoned and now recovered to new life thanks to the skilful work of Napoli Sotterranea. Indescribable beauties and suggestive places to be discovered.
For over 30 years, Napoli Sotterranea offers excursions to the most fascinating and evocative places of the city's belly. The members of the Association are committed - without ever having received any kind of funding from public institutions or private bodies - in the recovery and enhancement, for the purpose of public use, of the subsoil.
Their commitment is linked to a single purpose: to make Naples known and loved. The result has always been a winner. Those who visit these places fall in love with it, get excited.
Napoli Sotterranea has represented a fundamental starting point for other companies born in Italy and in Europe thanks to the competence and collaboration of the Association.
Taking part in the excursion means taking a journey through the history of over 2400 years, from the Greek period to the modern one, at 40 meters of depth between tunnels and cisterns. During the excursion, in addition to admiring the remains of the ancient Greco-Roman aqueduct and the WWII anti-aircraft shelters, we will visit the War Museum, the Hypogean Gardens, the "Arianna" Seismic Station and much more.
Finally, it will be possible to visit for free the remains of the ancient Greek-Roman Theater, accessible from a private property.
We recommend wearing comfortable shoes and a sweatshirt during the summer months. The narrow paths, like the tunnels, are absolutely optional. Discovering Naples from another point of view is an opportunity not to be missed.
The entrance is in the heart of the historic center in Piazza San Gaetano n.68
Excursions in Italian:
10.00 am - 12.00 am - 1.00 pm - 2.00 pm - 3.00 pm - 4.00 pm - 5.00 pm - 6.00 pm
(Thursday at 21.00 only by reservation, reaching a minimum of 10 people)
Excursions in English:
(Thursday at 21.00 only reservation reaching a minimum of 10 people)
Reservations are not required for groups of less than 10 people.
Excursions in other languages, groups or excursions outside the opening hours by reservation only.