Discover the Mysterious Underground of Naples

Over 100 feet (40 m) below the characteristic and lively streets of Naples is a totally different world. The city’s underground is unexplored and isolated by time but deeply connected with the world above. It’s the heart of Naples and the place where the town was born! Take a trip into the past and see how every historical event (from the city’s origins to the bombs of WWII) has impacted its foundation.

Naples has a lot to offer if you enjoy exploring crypts, catacombs, tunnels, and hidden passages! The city is famous for the magnificent seaside, Mount Vesuvius, an ancient Roman old town, and a mysterious underground covering nearly 500 acres. Today, it’s possible to visit parts of this underground area, discovering a Greek-Roman aqueduct, a Greek-Roman theater, the Hypogeum Gardens, and the Summa Cavea

There are still more sites to see, including the Bourbon Tunnel, a hidden military passage and masterpiece of civil engineering, and centuries-old burial sites. The Fontanelle Cemetery sits within a cave on the hillside of the Materdei district. It became part of the Neapolitan folklore and pagan rituals. The Catacombs of San Gennaro and San Gaudioso are living proof of the first Christian communities in the city and reveal the bond of faith between the town and its saints.

You can reach Naples' underground, known as Napoli Sotterranea, on foot from the historic center. The entrance is in the city's heart, in the left corner of Piazza San Gaetano if you are coming from Via Duomo or San Gregorio Armeno. Blue and white flags highlight the entrance.

Recommended Schedule:

  1. The Greek-Roman Aqueduct: After descending 136 relatively comfortable steps, you'll be about 120 feet (40 m) underground and ready to step back in time! The aqueduct is spacious and illuminated, except for a short segment where you can join an optional tour with a guide for one hour. You'll also visit the air-raid shelters from the Second World War, the War Museum, and the Hypogeum Gardens.

  2. The Greek-Roman Theater: Inside a typical underground house, you'll open a hatch underneath the bed to access the remains of an ancient theater. This is where Emperor Nero also had his private dressing room whenever he performed his shows in Naples. The tour lasts about 20 minutes.

  3. Summa Cavea: Another part of the Roman Theater is located in an old carpentry site, where you'll find a permanent exhibition of “Scarabattoli” behind glass to preserve the religious nativity scene. Inside the new fragment of the theater, archeologists discovered small running water channels that acted as drain sewers from the Bourbon period, made out of blue patterned tiles.

  4. The Bourbon Tunnel: The Bourbon Tunnel is a majestic underground civil engineering masterpiece dating back to the 14th century. Designed by the great architect Enrico Alvino, it acted as a secret royal passage for King Ferdinand II of Bourbon. Together with this hidden military passage, you can also visit part of the Renaissance aqueduct system, World War II air bomb shelters built in these underground spaces to protect the city inhabitants, and vintage cars and motorbikes from the 50s.

  5. Fontanelle Cemetery: The Fontanelle Cemetery in Naples is a graveyard located within a hillside cave of the Materdei district. It dates back to the Spanish domination of the 16th century when graves were built outside the city walls. In 1656 CE, the city buried thousands of anonymous corpses (victims of the great plague) in the cemetery. The cave became the unofficial final resting place for the poor, many of whom couldn't afford to be buried in a regular cemetery. In the early 19th century, under the French rule of Naples, Fontanelle was finally recognized as an official cemetery.

  6. Catacombs of San Gennaro & San Gaudioso: The most ancient part of the Catacombs of San Gennaro is a tomb of a noble family, dating back to the 2nd century CE. Its expansion continued when moving the mortal remains of the city’s most loved and popularly acclaimed patron, San Gennaro. Thus, Naples’ oldest and most sacred catacombs became a Christian pilgrimage and coveted place for burial.

    These Catacombs are arranged on two levels offering much larger spaces than the more famous Rome catacombs. Under the Basilica of Santa Maria della Sanità, you can explore the second most important early Christian cemetery of the city, the Catacombs of San Gaudioso. Entrance to the Catacombs of San Gennare's is next to the Madre del Buon Consiglio Basilica.
Read more about unique and interesting activities in Naples.

Itineraries with Discover the Mysterious Underground of Naples

Rome, Naples, & the Amalfi Coast - 10 Days

Start off your trip in the heart of it all- Rome. Explore this capital city's ancient monuments and historic piazzas before making your way down the Italian peninsula to Naples. Peruse the glass-roofed Galleria Umberto shopping center and partake in the incomparable food scene before discovering the ruins of Pompeii. You'll finish off along the Amalfi Coast, visiting colorful villages and soaking in the sunshine next to the crystal clear blue waters.

Naples & the Amalfi Coast - 6 Days

Make the most of your time in Italy exploring the vibrant city of Naples and soaking in the incomparable views of the Amalfi Coast. Start off in bustling Naples, the birthplace of pizza. Delight in the local cuisine before making your way to the stunning villages of the Amalfi Coast, visiting the incredible Pompeii ruins along the way. End your trip with the sunny beaches and colorful towns of this incomparable coastline.

Discover Greek & Italian History: Athens, Crete, Venice, Rome, & Naples - 10 Days

If you have ten days to get away and want to dive into Mediterranean history from the Bronze Age to the Middle Ages, this itinerary combining Greece and Italy is for you. From the mighty Acropolis of Athens to the gilded palace halls of Venice, you'll explore thousands of years of archaeology and architecture. Spend four days in the heart of Ancient Greece with a stop in Crete to tour the 3,500-year-old Minoan Palace of Knossos, then travel to Venice, Rome, and Naples to see the grandeur of the Venetian Republic, explore the Colosseum, and even hike to the top of Mt. Vesuvius.