Hidden treasures

The Cryptoporticus of Piazza Duomo in Vicenza

Unknown places & works

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

Latest posts

Venice: Veronica Franco: the most talked-about woman in the Serenissima

Big Names

Among the various Venetian female figures of the past, certainly one of the most interesting and, for many reasons also modern, was Ver...


Venice: 10 songs that will make you think of Venice

Did you know that...

Sometimes we hear the first few lines of a song and our minds are suddenly transported back to a place, a memory or a dream. We put tog...


Padua: Vò Euganeo: a place to be discovered

Unknown places & works

In the last few months there has been much talking around the small town of Vò, in the province of Padua. It was at the center of ever...


Venice: 10 must-see movies filmed in Venice

Film Locations

Venice is unique amongst world cities and every year it turns into a dream-like experience for scores of tourists thanks to its timeles...


Top posts

Chioggia: The Valley of the Seven Dead Men

Mysteries & Legends

Halloween is just around the corner: have you already got into the fascinating terrifying aura of the scariest party of the year? No ye...


Venice: The stone heart of St Mark’s Basilica

Unknown places & works

If you are visiting St Mark’s Basilica and have just abandoned the wonderful vision of the Pala d'Oro (which is a must-see), just a f...


Venice: Map of Venice, what to know before you leave

Did you know that...

Did you know that Venice is not a single large island but rather a collection of 117 small islands linked together by over 400 bridges?...


Venice: The origins of the Spritz cocktail

Local Traditions

Spritz, the typical Venetian aperitif, has nowadays become the iconic cocktail of Happy hour not only in Italy, but all over the world....