Etruscan Necropolises, Cerveteri
Etruscan Necropolises of Cerveteri (Necropoli etrusche di Cerveteri) is the ancient tombs meant for Etruscan aristocratic families; the last ones were built during the 3rd and 2nd century BC. Archaeologists and fans of antiquities find these large areas with plenty of underground graves to be especially interesting. Just like the Monterozzi necropolis, they were listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2004.
History of necropolises
Etruscans that had many city-states ruled on the Italian Peninsula long before Roman Empire came into existence. Caere, known today as Cerveteri, was one of those city-states. This ancient nation was remarkably advanced. However, it went extinct at the hands of Romans. None of the cities have survived to this day. People of this nation believed that after passing away human beings traveled to another dimension, that’s why deceased were equipped with personal belongings. Dwelling interiors were precisely recreated in the tombs as well.
Etruscans used to build necropolises that were designed the same way as their cities: identical houses, streets, squares. The excavation of the largest necropolis – Banditaccia – began in 1911. As reported by archaeologists the first burials date back to the 9th century BC. Two centuries later the necropolis was expanded in accordance with a well-defined urban development plan.
Tourists are allowed to visit only some of the ancient tombs, the majority of artifacts are kept in museums of Rome and Vatican City as well as in the Louvre. Cerveteri’s archaeological zone includes ancient town called Caere and Banditaccia, Monte Abatone, Sorbo necropolises. Moreover, an archaeological museum can be found in the historical part of the town.
- Necropolis of Banditaccia. This necropolis located in the north of the town is considered to be the greatest and the best-known one. Its territory spreads over 10 hectares and has more than 400 graves. The most outstanding tombs are Tomb of the Greek Vases, Tomb of the Frame and Tomb of the Capitals. However, the most well-known ones are Tomb of the Reliefs, often referred to as Tomb the Matuna family. It houses 13 sarcophaguses for married couples decorated with red pillows and sculpted reliefs depicting household items and animals.
- Necropolis of Monte Abatone. In 1850 a cinerary urn with figures of man and woman was discovered around here and later named “Sarcophagus of the Spouses.”
- Necropolis of Sorbo. This never-before-seen burial place was found here during excavations in 1836. The Regolini-Galassi tomb was named after the archaeologists that discovered it. It is built as a narrow corridor with openings to chambers on each side. Gold jewels as well as silverware and ware made of bronze were located inside the construction.
- The National Archaeological Museum of Cerveteri. It is situated in the historical center of Cerveteri, in a medieval fortress where princess Claudia Ruspoli used to live in her day. The exhibits collected in all the necropolises around are presented in chronological order. The first floor offers pieces dating back to the Early Archaic Period. The second floor features artifacts created during prosperous times in Caere which aesthetes will find exceptionally interesting. These include sarcophaguses with embellished lids, gravestones, various ceramic artworks.
How to get
Cerveteri town is located 40 km north-west of Rome. The most convenient to reach this place is by Cotral bus. It stops in Rome at Cornelia subway station every hour. The ride takes just under an hour and costs 3,5 Euros. You can travel back to the city by taking any of the buses in town’s center, at the archaeological museum. You can get to Banditaccia necropolis on foot (takes around 15 minutes). If you have a car, then drive along Autostrada A12 and follow the roadsigns.
Opening hours: Banditaccia necropolis opens at 8:30 and closes an hour before the sundown. It welcomes visitors daily, except for Monday, January 1 and December 25.
Admission: separate full-price ticket costs 6 euros, cut-price one (for EU citizens in the 18–25 age range) – 3 euros. Full-price ticket for the necropolis and the museum costs 8 euros, cut-price one – 4 euros. Admission is free for EU citizens under 18 and over 65.