Neronian Cryptoporticus, Rome

Neronian Cryptoporticus, Rome

A cryptoporticus, derived from the Latin words "crypta" (meaning crypt) and "porticus" (meaning portico), was a covered corridor or passageway in ancient Roman architecture. In English, it is commonly referred to as a "cryptoportico." This architectural feature served as a semi-subterranean gallery with vaulted ceilings, supporting portico structures aboveground, and allowing light to enter through openings at the tops of its arches.

On sloping sites, the open side of a cryptoporticus was often partially at ground level, providing support for structures such as forums or Roman villas. In this capacity, it served as the basis villae. Typically, the cryptoporticus was vaulted and illuminated by openings in the vaulted ceiling. In the letters of Pliny the Younger, the term "cryptoporticus" is used interchangeably with "crypt," indicating an underground space.

One notable example of a cryptoporticus is part of the Domus Tiberiana complex, which was the first imperial palace built on the Palatine Hill in Rome. This cryptoporticus, dating from the Neronian period between 54 and 68 AD, spans 130 meters in length. Emperor Tiberius and subsequent emperors of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, including Caligula, Claudius, and Nero, transformed the separate imperial residences into a unified palace complex. The cryptoporticus was an integral part of this expansion and unification.

Situated beneath the area that was later covered by the Horti Farnesiani in the sixteenth century, this underground corridor aligns with one side of the Domus Tiberiana. It is illuminated by small windows and features mosaic floors. Additionally, a replica of the stucco decoration from the coffered ceiling, adorned with depictions of plants and cupids, can be observed on the vaulted ceiling. The original stucco decoration is now housed in the Palatine Museum, allowing visitors to appreciate the intricate and artistic craftsmanship of the era.

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Neronian Cryptoporticus on Map

Sight Name: Neronian Cryptoporticus
Sight Location: Rome, Italy (See walking tours in Rome)
Sight Type: Attraction/Landmark
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Rome, Italy

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