The Sotterranea, or the underground passages and caves beneath the city of Naples, Italy, have a rich and fascinating history that dates back to ancient times. The city was originally founded as a Greek colony in the 8th century BCE, and over the centuries, the inhabitants of Naples have created a complex network of underground tunnels, cisterns, catacombs, and other structures that have served a variety of purposes.
One of the earliest uses of the underground spaces was for water storage. The ancient Greeks and Romans built cisterns to collect rainwater, which was then used for drinking and other purposes. In medieval times, the underground spaces were used as shelter during times of war and as hiding places for people and valuables during invasions and raids. The underground tunnels were also used by smugglers and criminals to move goods and people undetected.
During the Renaissance, the underground passages were used as aqueducts to bring water to the city's fountains and gardens. The Bourbon kings of Naples, who ruled from the 18th to the 19th century, used the underground spaces as storage for military equipment and as a prison. The Sotterranea was also used during World War II as a bomb shelter for the people of Naples.
Today, visitors can explore the Sotterranea and learn about its rich history. Some of the most popular attractions include the Catacombs of San Gennaro, which contain the tombs of early Christian martyrs, and the Bourbon Tunnel, which was built in the 19th century to connect the Royal Palace to the military barracks. The Sotterranea is a unique and fascinating part of Naples' history, and it continues to be an important part of the city's cultural heritage.