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Secret Room, Naples, Italy

The Secret Room (Secret Museum or Cabinet) is a term, used by the Bourbons (a European Royal house of French origin, a branch of Capetian dynasty) to indicate a special place where erotic artefacts from Pompei and Herculaneum were kept. At present the exhibits are kept in several museums in Italy; also there is a similar secret room in British Museum.

The city of Pompei is not famous only for being destroyed during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 72 A.D. Apart from that it was known as city of love, where the ration of brothels number to that of temples was 9 to 1. All the walls of the city were full of phallic drawings indicating the road to brothels (Lupanars). In this very city excavation works were launched; archeologists discovered lots of sex toys of incredible sizes and shapes. Even household items were made in phallic shapes.

Once king Francis I visited the excavation venue with his wife and daughter. He was outraged at the sight of WHAT he saw there. He ordered to gather all those obscene items and lock them somewhere out of his sight. This is how the Secret Room appeared. Only certain people of "mature age and respected morals" (which implied only wealthy men) had access to the room. After the revolution of 1848 censorship became way too strict, and the Bourbons had to lock the room with three different locks and give the keys to three high-ranking officials. The situation was so serious that even nude Venus statue became prohibited. In 1860, when Garibaldi occupied Naples, he decided to grant free access to the collection, however the conservatives weren't very happy with that. Censorship kept on pressing the society for quite a long period of time. Only in April 2000 the collection became open to public. The entrance for minors is granted only with a written consent of parents, or if he/she is accompanied by an adult.

By Sona Gasparian,


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