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The Underground Neapolis: history of an ancient Greco-Roman settlement

In what is now Piazza San Gaetano, below the current complex of San Lorenzo Maggiore, are the archaeological excavations of the ancient Neapolis.

Considered one of the oldest and most fascinating places in Naples, in this area there is the Roman forum, which coincided with the agora (square) of the Greek city. In the third century BC the Greeks opened the first underground quarries to obtain the blocks of tuff needed to build the walls and temples of the then Neapolis. The development of the entire underground network dates back to Roman times, which in the Augustan period provided the city with road tunnels and above all a complex network of aqueducts, fed by underground ducts from the springs of Serino, 70 km away from the center of Naples. A pivotal place for the life of the city, in the true sense of the word: it is here that the cardo (ancient Greek stenopos) and the greater decumanus of the Roman Naples intersect. It was here that the tuff cisterns were born, as mentioned, to build the city and then reused by the Romans to collect rainwater and reuse it as aqueducts. System that lasted until '600, where the sewage system dried up. Only in 1885, after a terrible cholera epidemic, was the old water distribution system abandoned, thanks to the construction of a new aqueduct. During the Second World War the underground was used as a shelter from bombing and from there followed a long period of degradation in which the subsoil was used as a landfill. It is from the 80s onwards that the place begins to resume its own dignity, until it becomes a real place of rediscovery of ancient Naples, rich in history and stories to discover.

Directions: The underground Naples can also be reached on foot from the historic center, the entrance is in the heart of Naples, in the left corner of Piazza San Gaetano n 68 coming from Via Duomo or San Gregorio Armeno.

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