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Chieti offers a unique archaeological heritage in the world, its ancient historical legacies being located not only in the city, but also ... under it.
Don't miss the opportunity to visit the underground city with its vast hypogea.
sites in chieti
VIA TECTA (COVERED ROAD)
In the basement of the seventeenth-century Palazzo de 'Mayo, there is Via Tecta, an interesting well-preserved underground structure from the late Republican and Imperial era.
The visible structure consists of a long steeply sloping corridor covered by a series of barrel vaults in opus cementitium, 45 meters long and 4 meters high that, with the connected tunnels, reaches a total development of 90 meters.
Via Tecta, which crosses the ancient route of Via Valeria in an orthogonal direction, today Corso Marrucino, was a covered road connection (hence the name Tecta) which was used to control the water network, located under the walkway of the tunnel, allowing access through tunnels and manholes for inspections and maintenance.
The natural flow of water was thus controlled through a branched water infrastructure that probably served to feed the cistern of the Roman Baths.
Underground space under Palazzo della Prefettura
In the basement of Palazzo della Prefettura, with access from a flight of steps located in Piazza Umberto I, there is a large underground room from the Roman era, originally 60x30 meters, today only a part of 24x30 meters can be inspected, following the collapse of Palazzo Valignani, which took place in the early 1900s, and which was located in correspondence with the building of the former Bank of Italy, now the temporary seat of the Municipality of Chieti.
In the past, the hypogean space included a stretch that also extended below the Marrucino Theater.
What remains today of the original layout is a large pillared room divided into seven "naves" in the sense of length and sixteen "spans" in the sense of width.
The vaults are in Roman concrete as well as the perimeter walls, like the pillars, and were subsequently covered with bricks.
Its central location along the main street of the city would suggest an area that was probably intended for the market and whose basements were used to storage materials and foodstuffs and to collection water.
This hypothesis seems confirmed by the excavations carried out in 2004 in Piazza Valignani *, in front of the Theater, when a short tunnel leading to the underground environment was also inspected.
Notes: * Piazza Valignani is historically known by the Theatines with the nickname "Lu Pozz" (the Shaft) as evidence that in the past there was a water collection point in that area.
underground space via dei tintori
In the Porta Pescara area, there are a series of tunnels due to the presence of a sandstone quarry in the past.
In correspondence with the subsoil of Via dei Tintori (with access from Via Silvino Olivieri) there is in fact an important underground space with a long walkable section.
It branches into several tunnels and galleries, one of which, built at the end of the 19th century, is covered with very high brick walls and vaults.
Location: Via dei Tintori / Via Silvino Olivieri - Chieti
Historical period: end of the 19th century
Located in the eastern part of the city, they date back to the second century. d.c., with access via a staircase that led into an oblique corridor elegantly made in mosaic with black crosses on a white background.
The corridor led into a colonnaded atrium with mosaic flooring depicting Neptune. From here it was possible to reach three raised rooms through the suspensurae that made up the calidarium.
In front of the square atrium there was the frigidarium, with semicircular basins covered with marble and a larger one at the bottom.
Not far away there is a fourth basin, of which only the bottom covered in opera signina has been preserved (particularly suitable for waterproofing environments such as basins and cisterns) and part of the core of the four walls.
The eastern area was destroyed due to the instability of the land. The baths used the aqueduct and a cistern.
The baths were decorated with precious marbles, and glass paste mosaics, as well as statues and friezes. The marbles were precious, from Greece and Asia Minor, which denotes the wealth of the city. With the decay of the imperial age the inhabited center shrunk and the place decayed covered by earth and weeds.
Of the thermal plant there remain colonnades, walls and mosaic floors, partly covered by protective shelters, all unfortunately, and no one knows why, not open to visitors.
[source: romano impero]
tank of the roman bath
Close to the Roman Baths there is a large capacity cistern, which is still in excellent condition today, and which had the function of supplying water to the thermal baths below.
Composed of 9 interconnected rooms, 60 meters long and 14 wide, it is probably the largest underground environment in the city.
These rooms were structured in such a way as to withstand the pressure of water and the ground through niches placed around the 9 rooms.
And what about the Roman Theater of Chieti? Do we seriously want to talk about it? Many pass by there every day without even paying a glance ... When I was a child I thought it was a cave blackened by the smoke of the fires lit by the ancient people.
Then I have been familiar with it, I unearthed it, photographed it, loved it!
You need to know that, in the last century, the excavation and analysis of the materials found in the earth from the excavation of the hill, made to build the public building, contained "remains of ceramic materials relating to a prehistoric occupation but also relevant to settlements of the type residential buildings of the first century b.C., clearly razed to the ground before the construction of the theater. "(cit.danielemancini-archeologia.it).
The dimensions of the cave was impressive: 80 meters in diameter. These measures have made possible to establish a capacity of over 5000 seats.
The position "outside the walls" testifies that the ancient Teate, in its places dedicated to entertainment at that time, also attracted and welcomed the population of the neighboring towns!
The interior preserves high, dark rooms with an incredible charm, it is impossible not to imagine those ancient stands above your head, over 2 thousand years ago full of people.
The walls, in opus mixtum (opus reticulatum and opus lateritium), surround the cave with a splendid game of arches and at the top they support part of the buildings that overlook this small, great jewel of our history.