Ipogeo dei Cristallini of Napoli

THE GUARDIANS OF A CHEST OF ART AND HISTORY

PALAZZO DI DONATO

It was the ancient road that the king walked and where the Baron therefore chose for his residence

It was 1889 when Baron Giovanni di Donato had the idea of ​​digging in the cellar of his palace, which today takes his name, in via dei Cristallini 133, to look for water or tuff. He then had some work carried out, but found some void under the ground. With extreme astonishment he discovered the large rooms of the four burial grounds, richly painted, decorated and furnished. A true treasure  of Hellenistic funerary painting and architecture.

A rare testimony of the Hellenistic period, an incredibly restored splendor.

In fact, right at that point ran an avenue of the ancient Neapolitan necropolis from the Greek era, once illuminated by the sun in the open countryside, and now buried under the houses of the Borgo Sanità of the new city.

The Baron of Donato, recognizing the importance of the monument, had a staircase and a corridor built that led to the entrance doors of the individual rooms.

The descendants of the Baron of Donato bequeathed the wonderful Ipogeo dei Cristallini to his nephew Giampiero Martuscelli, who guarded it, together with the Rione Sanità and the inhabitants of the building, with great care and a sense of belonging.

In 2018, Giampiero Martuscelli’s idea was born together with his wife Alessandra Calise and their children Paolo and Sara to offer this treasure trove of art and history to the city and the public, making it usable.

«It was an archaeologist who convinced us. He had asked us to visit the Hypogeum. After entering the most beautiful of the four rooms, with surprising spontaneity, he exclaimed: “How much beauty, I would like to live here!“. It was then that we realized that it was time to take care of this place that had been closed for too long».

«The desire is not only to restore the wonderful frescoes to their true beauty, but also to bring an ever wider audience closer to Greek art. Art belongs to everyone, and anyone who manages an asset like this has the duty to make it understandable and accessible».

 

Alessandra Calise Martuscelli