Hidden treasures

The Cryptoporticus of Piazza Duomo in Vicenza

Unknown places & works
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The Cryptoporticus of Piazza Duomo in Vicenza

Vicenza is famous all over the world for its sixteenth-century monuments by the great architect Andrea Palladio and is a UNESCO heritage site. But Vicenza also boasts a long past, sometimes hidden behind modern buildings.. One of these is the Criptoporticus under Piazza Duomo.

In the architecture of ancient Rome, a cryptoporticus was a corridor or a covered passage, either at ground level or a basement, which supported a structure such as a square or a villa, and used as a non-exposed service corridor.

In the summer of 1954, during the construction works of the canonical building of the cathedral of Vicenza, along the southern side of Piazza Duomo, builders came across a compact structure, much harder than soil and the surrounding gravel, and it seemed to be a fragment of flooring. In delimiting the structure they realized that beneath it seemed to be empty. With the help of a torch they managed to see what looked like a short tunnel, just beneath the surface of the ground. It was only during the cleaning and consolidation work that the true nature of the structure was discovered: a cryptoporticus dating back to the Roman era.

The cryptoporticus was part of a Roman house in ruins (but, considering the size of the cryptoporticus, certainly of a rich family), located in the southwest section of the Roman city. It is made up of three channels arranged in a U shape and of a height of about 2.75 meters.

The cryptoporticus received light from 31 small windows placed in the upper part of the interior, most likely where the garden of the peristyle above was. It was accessed by a narrow staircase, partly corresponding to the one still in use, which entered the northern channel. Some areas, for the sophisticated tiling and plaster, were certainly used by the family, while others were used as warehouses and workshops.

Vicenza's Cryptoporticus is open to the public... If you want to include it in your Vicenza tour itinerary, just let your guide know upon booking!

By Insidecom Editorial Staff

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