Naples: Historic Center

Piazza del Plebiscito in Naples

The historic center of Naples, actually Europe's largest, is a trove of treasures bearing diverse styles and filling up every centimeter on its long timeline of human history, beginning with the city’s foundation as the Greek colony Parthenope in the 8th Century B.C.E. Above all, the number of remnants harking back to the Roman age is overwhelming, and one of the best places to find them is in the city’s museums and in the archaeological sites located in the San Lorenzo Maggiore zone. After the fall of the Roman Empire, powerful churches sprung up all over the city, many in the rione Sanità – for instance the 4th Century Basilica di San Gennaro. Then, the Swabian-Norman epoch endowed Bella Napoli with everyone’s favorite structure, the majestic Castel dell’Ovo, romantically placed before a breathtaking view of the gulf. The House of Anjou, rather, bequeathed several works in the Gothic-Provencal, specifically the Cathedral, the Churches of San Lorenzo Maggiore, San Domenico Maggiore and Santa Chiara (with its spectacular Chiostro delle Clarisse), the Castel Nuovo or “Maschio Angioino,” the Castel Capuano (fortress and noble residence), Castel Sant’Elmo, St. Martin’s Charterhouse and the Palace of the Prince of Taranto. Among the conquerors were the Aragonese, who contributed defensive strongholds and the Royal Palace (Palazzo Reale, 1600) that decorates Piazza del Plebiscito, along with the Basilica di San Francesco di Paola. Finally, during the era when Naples was regarded as the third European capital city after London and Paris (1730-1750), up went the architectonic monuments to high culture: the Bourbon Hospice for the Poor, the Teatro San Carlo and the Royal Palace of Capodimonte, which now accommodates the homonymous National Museum housing invaluable works of art from Titian, Raphael, Correggio, Parmigianino, Caravaggio, Simone Martini and so many others that produced contemporary, sculptural and even gold works from the 1500s.

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