Museo del Sottosuolo Napoletano

Museum of the Naples Underground

Useful Information

Location: San Paolo, Piazza Cavour, Naples
Open: .
Fee: .
Classification: SubterraneaCellar
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: L=80,000 m.
Guided tours:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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25-OCT-2005 museum opened to the public.


The Museo del Sottosuolo Napoletano (Museum of the Naples Underground) is actually located in a section of this underground, below Piazza Cavour. This new museum is the result of fifty years of exploration in the urban underground of Naples. The whole city is built on multiple artificial caverns which were created for various purposes. There are cellars, road tunnels, subway tunnels, foot tunnels, aqueducts and sewage tunnels, passageways and ruined buildings. The remains of old buildings were used for the construction on new building on top, and parts of the old structures remained as underground spaces.

Most of the caverns are located 40 to 60 meters below ground. Many were used during World War II as bomb shelters, but soon after the war they were sealed off and forgotten. Many items found in the underground spaces were from the last days of World War II, when the Allieds approached from the south, and the Italian soldiers threw anything identifying them as being military into well shafts and other openings. During the millennia the underground has often been a comfortable place for rubbish. In the 18th century paving stones were tossed in, as new roads were built.

Many of the caverns were the result of quarrying. The soft yellow tufa or travertiine was used as building material. Thhe mminers left oil lamps, which they used as light source and terra cotta smoking pipes.

Another group of passages was constructed for water supply. Many of the underground aqueducts were constructed during Roman times, but maintained and used for almost two thousand years. Large terra cotta water jugs called mummarelle were lowered down into the underground water reservoirs. The water tunnels were maintained by the pozzari.

The museum contains items discovered underground, which were collected by the researchers of the Centro Spelelogico Meridionale (Southern Speleological Center). The speleologists started this urban underground exploration in the 1970s.