Tiberius’ Sacred Santuary – Capri’s Blue Grotto
is a must if you are spending a day on this magical island. I’ve told you in my last post that first thing we did when we disembark in Marina Grande was to buy tickets for a boat trip around the island.
Grotta Azzurrra or Blue Grotto, the most major of all Capri’s tourist attractions, is a sea cave along the coast of Capri renowned for its’ brilliant blue color. This Karst cavity, together with the equally famous Faraglioni has contributed in spreading the enigma of this island all over the world. The most traditional and evocative way of carrying out this excursion, which shouldn’t be missed during the course of a visit to Capri, is to take one of the tourist boats or motorboats from the Marina Grande.
Most organized boat tours around Capri include a stop at the famous Blue Grotto. You can get there also if you catch a bus from Piazza Vittoria in AnaCapri or on foot from the center of AnaCapri, walking along Viale T. de Tommaso, Via Pagliaro and Via Grotta Azzurra. It’s open for visit from 9 am to 5 pm if the sea conditions permit (in case of southwesterly or northwesterly winds, entrance to the cave is impossible). You must know that the best time to visit the Blue Grotto is between noon and 2 pm when the intensity of the blue hue inside the cave is highest. Although it is said, the cave is spectacular all day long. We do suggest you avoid visiting the cave on overcast days, when the reflection is much less dramatic, and in the afternoon, when the cave is often closed due to rough seas. The tickets must be purchased separately at €13 per person for a short 5 minute visit, because the Blue Grotto is considered a cultural attraction similar to a museum .
Try to arrive on Capri as early as possible and head first to the private jetty in Marina Grande, which is the departure point for boat tours for the Blue Grotto (on the same dock where most hydrofoils from the mainland arrive). You can take either the complete circle tour, which includes the thrill of sailing through the arch in the dramatic Faraglioni rock formations, or the shorter tour, which only sails as far as the Blue Grotto and back. We suggest you opt for the full circle tour!
We opted for a complete tour and we entered the Blue Grotto exactly at 12 o’clock, the best time to visit this magical cave. Once we arrived there we found out that we must disembark from our boat and climb into one of the small wooden rowboats which are small enough to pass through the cave’s mouth. The only thing you can not avoid are the long queues at the embarkation points and outside the entrance to the Blue Grotto. We were obliged to lie back in the rowboat while passing through the cave’s mouth, because the roof of the entrance has only 1 meter above sea level. The boatman pulls in his oars and maneuvers the boat inside with the aid of a chain attached to the vault of the entrance. The cavity is approximately 60 meters long and 25 meters wide.
The people rowing the rowboats often sing extremely loud as they approach the cave. Inside the cave, the singing echoes beautifully off the walls. As the boatman rows the boat through the gap, the swell can be quite unnerving, especially when the boatman tells you to duck as the boat goes through, but once inside the Blue Grotto, it is serene and blue, and well-worth the visit while on holiday on the Amalfi Coast. At first, all you’ll see is darkness. Then, as if by magic, the cavern fills with a shimmering blue and silver light and the sound of Neapolitan songs. Once in the interior, the luminous blue completely over takes you and is possibly one of the most gorgeous things one can experience.
The atmosphere of magic seduction inside the Blue Grotto is obtained by the sky-blue reflections of the beams of light whih penetrate through the narrow access hole, whilst the extraordinary cobalt-blue transparencies are caused by the light diffused under the mirror of the waters and which filters through an underwater opening. This opening was probably a primeval cavity submerged during ancient tectonic upheavals. This light is filtered through the water, which absorbs the red tones and leaves only the blue to pass into the cave. A second phenomenon creates the Blue Grotto famous silver effect to objects immersed in the water: the air bubbles which adhere to the surface of submerged objects refract light differently than the surrounding water, and this difference produces a silvery shimmer.
The photos you see here haven’t been retouched: this is exactly the otherworldly hue of the water inside the Blue Grotto, and entering into this fantastical sea cave is an experience you’ll never forget!
The history of Blue Grotto
Under the Emporer Tiberius of ancient Rome, the interior of the Blue Grotto was used as a marine nymphaeum, or a sanctuary consecrated to water nymphs. For many centuries afterwards, the islanders believed that Blue Grotto was inhabited by mythical creatures such as sirens and water demons, and were too frightened to enter.
It was not until 1826 that local fisherman Angelo Ferraro accompanied the German scholar August Kopisch and the painter Ernst Fries inside the cave. Their tales of a magical blue-tinged sea cave led to the Blue Grotto becoming Capri‘s most popular tourist site. Since those days a constant and endless stream of visitors and tourists have visited the place as well as a great number of Italian and foreign literary scholars, who have drawn inspiration from the place.
There is so much to see – from the colorful port of Marina Grande to the glamorous Piazzetta where the world’s beautiful people hang out; from the ruins of Emperor Tiberius’ villas to the Charterhouse of San Giacomo and the spectacular Via Krupp. You can take the chair lift to the top of Monte Solaro. You can walk along paths leading to incredible rock formations such as the Natural Arch and the Faraglioni. You can marvel at the glimmering blue of the Grotta Azzurra and you can fall in love with Capri just like hundreds and thousands of visitors before you…
A “paradise of idleness” surrounded by the bluest of seas, the dramatically beautiful, flower-covered Island of Capri has been enchanting visitors for centuries.