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Ipogeo dei Cristallini
Photograph: Ipogeo dei Cristallini

This 2,500-year-old Ancient Greek crypt is about to open to the public

Visitors to Naples will be able to enter the tombs for the first time since they were discovered in 1889

Sophie Dickinson
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Sophie Dickinson
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Looking at really old stuff is always pretty mind-blowing. That wall there? Thousands of years old, you say? Incredible. But if you’ve done Pompeii and Herculaneum, you might feel like you’ve had your fill of jazzy tiles, crumbly roofs and stupidly well-preserved frescoes.

Oh no. Naples has a new attraction that’s well worth visiting. This subterranean burial ground was built by the Greeks in the fourth century BC, and is about open to the public for the first time. The Ipogeo dei Cristallini – literally the ‘crypt’ on the Via dei Cristallini – is filled with still-intact wall paintings and intricate sculptures. 

Ipogeo dei Cristallini
Photograph: Ipogeo dei Cristallini

The attraction comprises four main tombs, covered in vibrant frescoes that hint at how the Greeks lived – and died – in the vicinity of Naples. An aristocrat, Baron di Donato, found it when he was trying to install water in his palace. Must have been a bit of a shock for whoever was sorting out the plumbing. 

Following careful restoration by archaeologists, the tombs will soon start welcoming the public. Sculpted Medusa heads and fertility symbols ward off evil spirits, and you’ll find laurel wreaths, painted pomegranates and intricate candelabras guarding the graves. A further 700 artefacts from the site are held in Naples’s National Archaeological Museum

The Ipogeo dei Cristallini will open in June for small, pre-booked tours. Find out more on the official website.

Did you know there’s an enormous pretend British town in China?

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