The History of the Blue Grotto

The hidden sea cave in Italy’s quiet Capri is a mesmerising sight. Its source of wonder comes from its gleaming, glow of blue waters, transforming the dark cave into an enchanting phenomenon. Its splendour has been known throughout history, with ancient beings marvelling at the natural light much the same as we do today.

Why it is Blue?

Why it is Blue Grotto

The mysterious blue glow of the water comes from the sunlight in the sky. However, instead of the light coming from above, it shines through a hole at the bottom of the cave. The hole is around 9 metres wide and is located directly below the entrance to the Grotto. The hole filters the sunlight and combines with the entrance light to illuminate the waters from below. Giving it that captivating blue glow whenever the sun is shining.

Ancient Roman Times

This cave hasn’t just been a new discovery, for it has a long history with humans. First seen documented in 27 A.D. when Tiberius, Emperor of the Roman Empire at the time, moved to Capri. Here he lived a lavish lifestyle in his Villa Jovis, a palace which sat atop a thousand-foot drop to the sea. The jaw-dropping cliff was not merely for show, for the Emperor was known to toss traitors or enemies over the cliff. The Blue Grotto, named Grotta di Gradola at the time, was Emperor Tiberius’ private swimming pool. He decorated the cave as a marine temple dedicated to sea nymphs. With a number of statues lining the cave as well as resting areas along the cave’s edges. After the Emperor’s death, the cave was soon abandoned, remaining hidden for centuries. Legends of spirits and demons living in the cave grew over the years, with the local fisherman fearing it. However, on April 18, 1826, the cave was “rediscovered” by a German writer and painter, named August Kopisch and Ernst Fries. The two were taken into the cave by a local fisherman named Angelo Ferraro.

How to see it Today?

Blue Grotto

Nowadays, hundreds of people visit this mesmerising wonder, with the only way to visit by rowboat. Either hop on an organised boat tour or hire a boat and skipper for the day. The best time to see the glow is around 2 pm, but as it is the most picturesque, it is, of course, the busiest time. This ensures a long wait, with only a few rowboats allowed in the caves at once, sometimes stretching out to hours. Despite this frustrating wait, the venture into the blue grotto is well worth the wait.

Check out the Blue Grotto today on our Capri Day Tour!