Portanapoli

Subterranean Naples – the mysterious underground

A trip to Naples’ underground, which is entwined by mysterious legends, is a special experience and has in the meantime become an important part of the city tours.

Entrance of Napoli Sotterranea - Subterranean Naples (© Portanapoli.com)

Entrance of Napoli Sotterranea – Subterranean Naples (© Portanapoli.com)

In the historic centre of Naples you can find one of the entrances to the mysterious underworld: Napoli Sotterranea, the Subterranean Naples (Piazza San Gaetano). It is one of the most famous attractions in Naples. Underneath modern Naples is an 80-kilometer-long labyrinth of caves hidden, which lies up to 40 meters underground. The individual caves were created when people mined the yellow tufa that was used to build the houses that stand above each of these caves.

It is interesting that the cistern system of the Subterranean Naples, which first originated at the time of the Greek colonization, was extended until the 19th century. Using different aqueducts, the surrounding springs were rerouted to subterranean chambers. That way, people could get water from different wells.

Napoli Sotterranea (© Francesca Buommino - Portanapoli.com)

Napoli Sotterranea (© Francesca Buommino – Portanapoli.com)

Since 400 B.C., the caves have been used for all kinds of different purposes

They served as secret places of refuge, cult sites, catacombs, and dumps. In the Second World War, people took shelter there during bombing raids. They left impressive drawings of their fears and thoughts on the walls of the caves, which you can still see today.

In past centuries, many poor families have lived in the subterranean caves of Naples

Sometimes, hungry children managed to get through subterranean connections into other people’s houses and take food and other things. For the people they had stolen from, it would seem like their possessions disappeared as if by magic. That’s how the legend of the endearing house ghost Munaciello originated, Naples’ most well known “esoteric” creature. Numerous legends are entwined around this lovable creature that unpredictably appears as a monk with a hood und has things disappear from people’s houses over night. Some Neapolitans think that Munaciello can also be helpful in predicting lottery numbers and finding lost treasures.

More info:
How to visit the underground in Naples