The Grotta dello Smeraldo (Emerald Grotto), also known as the “Temple of the Sea”, is one of those places where the beauty of nature is admirably accompanied by a unique, almost legendary story.
A few kilometers from Amalfi, in the commune of Conca dei Marini, nature has created a small karst cavity that has been partially invaded by the waters of the sea. When the sun’s rays penetrate the Emerald Grotto through the fissure that connects it to the outside, the light takes on magical hues, coloring the space with a thousand crystalline reflections.
Discovered in 1932 by a local fisherman, it owes its name to the play of colors ranging from cobalt blue to turquoise, then from green to emerald green, due to the passage of sunlight through an underwater groove that connects it to the open sea.
Initially, the cave was at sea level, and over the years stalactites and stalagmites have formed inside, giving rise to majestic columns, some over ten meters high. There are many ancient stories about the Grotte d’Émeraude and many legends that revolve around this picturesque corner of the coast, such as the myth of the Janare.
According to local folklore, the Janare were witches who lived in the area, dressed only in long nightgowns, waiting for fishermen’s boats to charm them with their songs. This is how the whole area, and the Grotte d’Émeraude itself, took on the connotation of an enchanted place!
In addition to popular belief, the “temple of the sea” also brings together the religious tradition of the place and hides in its waters a fascinating underwater nativity scene, made of Vietri ceramics and placed at the bottom of the grotto at a depth of around 4 meters. Every year at Christmas, divers dive down and leave the statue of baby Jesus at the bottom of the grotto. In summer, the square in front of the grotto is the venue for numerous events, including theater, music and cabaret.
How to visit the grotto
The grotto can be visited by land or sea.
The former can also be reached independently, by leaving the car in a small parking lot along the SS 163. Access to the Grotte d’Émeraude is via stairs or an elevator. After paying the ticket, you can enter the grotto by joining a small pier with small boats on which the guided tour lasts about half an hour.
If you don’t have a car, you can arrange a private transfer or include the visit in a chauffeur-driven tour of the Amalfi Coast. You can also reach the Emerald Grotto from the sea by taking one of the boats that leave daily from Amalfi harbor.
When to visit the grotto
As with all destinations on the Amalfi Coast, we advise you to avoid August and summer weekends if possible, to avoid getting stuck in traffic jams or having to wait a long time to board.
- Opening hours: daily 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays from 9 a.m. to 2.30 p.m.
- Tickets cost €5 and are paid directly at the entrance.
- The Emerald Grotto is closed in the event of adverse weather and sea conditions.
If possible, choose a day when the sea is very calm and the sky clear, as the emerald hues of the grotto are best appreciated in good light and when the sea surface is flat.