The Forgotten Tunnel Under Naples Filled With Vintage Cars

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One hundred and fifty meters from the large public square of Piazza del Plebiscito in central Naples, Italy, is an entrance that descends about thirty meters under the ground to the short Bourbon Tunnel, consisting of around 530 meters of giant passageways, huge caves and narrow culverts. Built in the middle of the 19th century, the tunnel was largely forgotten after the end of the Second Word War, until its rediscovery in the early 2000s.

The tunnel was conceived as an escape route from the Royal Palace, by the then King of the Two Sicilies, Ferdinand II of Bourbon, who was extremely paranoid about being overthrown by the riot-happy populace of Sicily and Naples, during the tumultuous Napoleonic period. Since 1816, there had been three revolutions against the Bourbon rule, and a very violent one in 1848, where the revolutionists seized the kingdom for 16 months. After coming back to power in 1849, Ferdinand II hastily rewrote a new constitution and began making plans for a safe escape should the people rise in revolt again.


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The king ordered an escape tunnel to be dug through the volcanic rock beneath the streets of Naples making use of parts of the existing Carmignano aqueduct system the city had since the early 1600s. The tunnel was supposed to connect the Royal Palace to the military barracks on what is now Via Morelli. But before it could be completed, Ferdinand II died, in 1859, and the tunnel was abandoned. Shortly after, Sicily was invaded by a corps of volunteers and incorporated into the new Kingdom of Italy.

The tunnels remained disused until the beginning of the 1930s, when they became a warehouse for impounded and contraband vehicles. During World War II, the subterranean space was converted into a military hospital and a bomb shelter. After the war, the tunnels became a dumping ground of wartime rubble including building debris, old televisions sets and refrigerators, destroyed cars and motorcycles, and pro-fascists marble statues before it was sealed up and forgotten.

Today, these tunnels with their accumulated debris have been turned into a gallery known as Galleria Borbonica, where the public can see interesting displays of vintage cars and motorbikes, old shelter spots, ancient cisterns and much more.


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Sources: / BBC

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