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Tomba Ildebranda

Historical Buildings

A majestic monument in the Etruscan necropolis of Sovana

The Tomba Ildebranda, or Tomb of Ildebrando, is in the Necropolis of Sovana (Città del Tufo Archaeological Park) and was discovered in 1924 by one of the Rosi brothers. Since then, it has been meticulously studied by Ranuccio Bianchi-Bandinelli. The tomb dates back to the third-second century BC and is considered one of the most important monuments in all Etruria.

Even if the tomb carries the name of the most famous Sovana citizen, Pope Gregorio VII (born Hildebrand of Sovana), it has no other connection with christianity or with the unkown person who asked such an important monument to be buried in.

The tomb is split into two distinct parts: the Burial Chamber and the Funerary Monument on the previous one. The tomb built by digging into the ground and for this reason, and considering the crumbly nature of the soil, many of its architectural elements have been lost. Archaeologists have been able to realistically reconstruct this part of the tomb thanks to several decorative fragments which were found during excavations and by comparing this tomb to the external part of the temple at Talamone. The reconstruction shows that the tomb was built in the style of a Greek temple. Several architectural elements underline the socio-cultural connections between the Etruscan and the Greek cultures.

Città del Tufo Archaeological Park - Ildebranda Tomb
Città del Tufo Archaeological Park - Ildebranda Tomb - Credit: C. D'Aliasi

The Monument had a high podium with two side stairways on which 12 columns delimited the edge of the pronaos. On the top of these columns there was a frieze beautifully decorated with a series of griffins, human figures and plant motifs. The whole Monument was covered in polychrome stucco, in accordance with decorative Etruscan art. 

Around the monument you can see many tombs (belonging to a later period) probably built for people who were close to the main deceased.

Tomba Ildebranda, the ceiling
Tomba Ildebranda, the ceiling - Credit: C. D'Aliasi

The Burial Chamber is underground, it doesn’t have any decorations and no original fragments remain as the Chamber was desecrated in ancient times. Access to the Chamber is through a central ‘dromos’ which goes down approximately ten metres and through a fourth century BC tomb. The interior of this tomb has a Greek cross plan and is decorated with a coffered ceiling.

Tomba Ildebranda is located in a dominant position, not far from the Etruscan ‘Cavone’ road. The tomb represents not only an important work of architecture, but also a sacred site and most probably a point of reference for wayfarers passing through the area of Sovana.

Parco Archeologico Città del Tufo
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