Naples Museums & Churches

One of the most utterly fascinating places in Italy

Naples is the flower of paradise. The last adventure of my life. Alexandre Dumas

Acquario Della Stazione Zoologica Di Napoli

Wether you are travelling with your family or by yourself, a visit to the Acquario Della Stazione Zoologica would be a pleasant experience.
The oldest operating European aquarium, it today contains over 200 species of marine animals and plants, especially local flora and fauna. Although not particularly spectacular, all the species in display are of great scientific interest. The Aquarium Museum staff provides information on marine organism maintenance, fish disease, local species distribution and other related topics.

Cappella Sansevero

Built in 1590 on behalf of Giovan Francesco Paolo de Sangro, 1st prince of Sansevero, the San Severo Chapel ( then known as santa Maria della Piet or "Pietatella") was enlarged from 1749 on behalf of Raimondo de Sangro, 7th prince of Sansevero.
Its singular longitudinal nave opens onto four lateral arches, containing sepulchral monuments. Marvellous frescoes by the painter Giovanni Maria Russo embellish the majestic interior but the most outstanding sculpture to be sheltered in the Chapel is Giuseppe Sanmartino's Veiled Christ, portraying the lifeless body of the Christ beneath a transparent veil.

San Martino National Museum and Charterhouse

A Carthusian monastery in exuberant Neapolitan baroque style, the Charterhouse of San Martino is magnificently situated at the foot of Castel Sant'Elmo. The complex includes the monks cemetery, the procurators cloister, the big cloister and the church.
Built in 1325 on behalf of Charles of Anjou and soon felt into decay, it was almost completely rebuilt by Baroque architects such as Dosio and Fanzago. The marble-clad church shelters beautiful frescoes and paintings such as the Ascension of the painter Lanfranco in the nave's ceiling, or the 12 Prophets of Giuseppe Ribera, who also painted the Institution of the Eucharist on the left wall of the choir. The masterpiece of the Church is no doubt the Triumph of Judith, frescoes by Luca Giordano.
The structure also hosts the Museo delll'Opera, founded in 1866 by Giuseppe Fiorelli.

San Domenico Maggiore

Located in the homonym square, San Domenico Maggiore Church is one of the richest art repositories in Naples. It incorporates the remains of a small, 10th century church: the Byzantine church of San Michele Arcangelo, originally hosting a Basilian monastery. The original entrance is still visible at the top of the external stairway. Transformed into a Benedectine Monastery after the Schism and then passed to the Dominican order in 1221, it was rebuilt on behalf of Charles II of Anjou and turned into the contemporary San Domenico Maggiore. In the 19th century the many Baroque touches were removed and church was restored to its original Gothic design.
San Domenico Maggiore hosts several famous paintings among which the 13th Century painting The Crucifiction believed to have spoken to St. Thomas Aquinas. In the Sacristy's Chapel you will admire the tomb of the first Catholic bishop of New York, died in Naples soon after his consecration. The sacristy also contains the tombs of 10 Aragonese and Spanish kings, along with the tombs of other notable Neapolitans.

The Duomo (Cathedral)

On the right hand side of Via del Duomo you will admire the Cathedral, dedicated to San Gennaro, the patron Saint of Naples. Originally built between 1294 and 1323 in French Gothic style it was considerably altered in the attempt to repair the damages provoked by the earthquake of 1456. Sixteen pillars, interspersed by 110 granite columns, divide the three naves, forming Gothic arches.The marvellous wooden ceiling of the central nave was painted by, among others, Luca Giordano.
The most famous Chapel, the so-called San Gennaro Chapel, is sumptuously located in the south aisle. On the principal altar you will see a silver bust containing the skull of St. Januarius, bishop of Beneventum, martyred under Diocletian in 1315. The tabernacle contains two vessels filled with what is believed to be the Saint's blood, having the power to liquefy twice a year, in May and Septembre. The "Miracle of San Gennaro" remains one of the most fascinating display of faith in the whole Christendom.
Local superstition maintains that if the blood does not liquefy (a process that can take from a few tense minutes to hours) disaster is bound to strike Naples. The 1944 eruption of Vesuvius and the 1980 earthquake are both blamed on the blood remaining stubbornly solid. Whichever side you're on in the debate, it's a fascinating ceremony.
Just beyond the fourth Chapel, known as Brancaccio Chapel, you will admire one of the most interesting examples of Paleo-Christian art that is the 6th Century remains of the Basilica of Santa Restituta. Its present three aisles divided by 27 antique columns are what is left of the original church after it was incorporated into the body of the massive new cathedral in the 13th century.

Castel Nuovo (or Maschio Angioino)

Located in the splendid and evocative Piazza Municipio, the impressive and majestic structure of Castel Nuovo was commissioned by Charles of Anjou in the late 13th century. The Maschio Angioino, named after the French King, was completely rebuilt by the Aragonese rulers who succeded them.
The decorative marble triumphal arch between the two entrance's towers was erected during the Renaissance in honor of King Alfonso I of Aragon (1396-1458) to commemorate the King's triumphal entry into the city. Its rich bas-reliefs are credited to Francesco Laurana (circa 1430-1502) and they represents.
The castle witnessed several important historical events such as Celestino the Fifth's "great refusal" of the papacy and the election of Bonifacio VIII. Moreover, Castel Nuovo was a real political and cultural hub : the leading humanist poet Petrarca dwelled there as a host of Roberto d'Angi, and the novelist Boccaccio also visited the fortress several times.
The castle is nowadays the seat of the Civic Museum preserving remarkable historical and artistic works.

Cuomo Palace and the Civic Filangieri Museum

The palazzo was built between 1464 and 1490 by Tuscan artists as a family residence for the rich Neapolitan merchant, Angelo Como, closely connected to the court of Alfonso of Aragon. The plan for the building, which was constructed using the artistic forms of the Florentine Renaissance, should probably be attributed to Giuliano da Maiano.
Built in bricks and black Piperno stone, it now houses hosts the Museum donated to the city by Gaetano Filangieri, prince of Satriano and renowned art collector. Filangieri Museum shows a wide collection of Chinese vases, parchments and manuscripts, oriental arms, art books and Neapolitan history books. You will also admire an interesting exhibition of painted majolicas and a few examples of chastity instruments.

National Archaeology Museum

An extensive collection of sculptures, paintings, mosaics, bronzes and vases gathered from Herculaneum, Stabia, Cuma and Pompeii, the National Archaeology Museum is considered one of the most important museums in the world.
It houses valuable and classical collections such as sculptural remains unearthed at Herculaneum and Pompei as well as various objects belonging to the Farnese family. Moreover, the museum boasts numerous funerary and religious objects, as well as very beautiful mosaics from the villas built in the Vesuvius area. Located in the centre of the homonym square, the museum opens every day, except on Mondays, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

San Gregorio Armeno

Narrow side-street in Spaccanapoli, is worldwide famous for the homonym Church, founded shortly after the iconoclast decrees of the eighth century which caused a number of religious orders to flee the Byzantine empire and seek refuge elsewhere. Dedicated to Gregory, bishop of Armenia (257-332), it was built on the site of the old Roman temple of the Goddess Ceres. In 1025 it was transformed into a Benedectine monastic complex, enclosing two adjacent chapels.
The street is usually referred to as Via dei Figurari with reference to the artisans' workshops crafting the popular figures for the typical Neapolitan Christmas manger scene. San Gregorio Armeno leads to the even narrower Via dei Tribunali, the main road of Greek Neapolis crossing Via Duomo.
Neighbouring piazza Riaro Sforza houses the huge tower Guglia di San Gennaro (1660), opposite the chapel of Pio Monte della Misericordia, where the Seven Acts of Mercy painted by Caravaggio can be still admired. Heading back towards the centre, you will pass piazza San Gaetano, the forum of the ancient city, the huge austere church of San Lorenzo (with a Roman street beneath) and the church of the Anime in Purgatorio.

Villa Floridiana

Purchased at the end of the nineteenth century by Prince Giuseppe Caracciolo as a gift for his wife the Duchess of Floridia, Villa Floridiana is located in the characteristic setting of the Vomero hills. Built in neo-classical style, Villa Floridiana encloses a spectacular romantic park gently sloping down towards the sea and offering pleasant walks through grassy paths and shady woods.
Avenues and paths were carefully laid out by F. Denhart, Director of the Botanical Gardens. The park was planted with more than 150 different species of plants and trees and with a rich collection of camellias. A wide marble staircase dominates the Villa.
The Villa now hosts the Museum of Decorative Arts where you will admire valuable collections of porcelain and majolica, such as splendid examples from the Neapolitan and European porcelain schools, valuable glassware, sixteenth century majolica ware from Faenza and enamels from Limoges. You will also admire a remarkable collection of lustre majolica from the Saxon manufacturer Meissen aswell as beautiful renaissance majolica ware from Deruta, Gubbio and Faenza or seventeenth century majolica from the Castelli d'Abruzzo. The Duke of Martina's collections include venetian glassware, Chinese and Japanese porcelain, jade and enamels.