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Attractions

 

Aquarium (Acquario)

Via Caracciolo 1 

Transportation Bus: R3 

081-5833111

Tues-Sat 9am-6pm; Sun 9am-7:30pm 

The Aquarium is in a municipal park, Villa Comunale, between Via Caracciolo and the Riviera di Chiaia. Established by a German naturalist in the 1800s, it is the oldest aquarium in Europe. It displays about 200 species of marine plants and fish, all of which are found in the Bay of Naples.

 

Carthusian Monastery of San Martino (Certosa di San Martino) and  National Museum of San Martino (Museo Nazionale di San Martino 

Tues-Sat 8:30am-7:30pm; Sun 9am-7:30pm 

Largo San Martino 5 

Transportation Funicular: Centrale from Via Toledo or Montesanto 

081-5781769

Located on the grounds of the Castel Sant'Elmo, this museum was founded in the 14th century as a Carthusian monastery.  During the 17th century it was reconstructed by architects in the Neapolitan baroque style. The marble-clad church has a ceiling painting of the Ascension by Lanfranco in the nave, along with Twelve Prophets by Giuseppe Ribera.   In the church treasury is Luca Giordano's ceiling fresco of the Triumph of Judith (1704) and Ribera's masterful Descent from the Cross.

Now a museum for the city of Naples, the church displays historic documents, ships' replicas, china and porcelain, silver, Campagna paintings of the 18th and 19th centuries, military costumes and armor. The vast collection of presepi (Neapolitan Christmas crèches) have come from the workshops of Naples's greatest craftsmen over the past 4 centuries.

 

Catacombe di San Gennaro

Tours daily 9:30, 10:15, 11, and 11:45

Via di Capodimonte 13 

Transportation Bus: M4 

081-7411071

A guided tour covers the two-story underground cemetery, dating from the 2nd century and containing many interesting frescoes and mosaics. You enter the catacombs on Via di Capodimonte (head down an alley going alongside the Madre del Buon Consiglio Church). These wide tunnels lined with early Christian burial niches grew around the tomb of an important pagan family, but they became a pilgrimage site when the bones of San Gennaro himself were transferred here in the 5th century. Along with several well-preserved 6th-century frescoes, there is a depiction of San Gennaro (A.D. 400s). The tour winds through the upper level of tunnels, passing through several small early basilicas carved from the tufa rock. The cemetery remained active until the 11th century, but most of the bones have since been blessed and reinterred in ossuaries on the lower levels (closed to the public). The catacombs survived the centuries intact, but the antique frescoes suffered some damage when the tunnels served as an air raid shelter during World War II.

 

Complesso Museale di Santa Chiara (Museum Complex of St. Clare)

Mon-Sat 9am-1pm and 2:30-5:30pm; Sun 9:30am-1pm 

Via Santa Chiara 49C 

Transportation Metro: Montesanto 

Phone 081-5526280

You have to exit the church and walk down its left flank to enter the 14th-century Cloisters of the Order of the Clares (Chiostri dell'Ordine di Santa Chiara). In 1742, Domenico Antonio Vaccaro took the courtyard of these flowering cloisters and lined the four paths to its center with arbors that are supported by columns, each of which is plated with colorfully painted majolica tiles. Interspersed among the columns are tiled benches. In the museum, rooms off the cloisters are a scattering of Roman and medieval remains.  On the piazza outside is one of Naples's several baroque spires, the Guglia dell'Immacolata, a tall pile of statues and reliefs sculpted in 1750.

 

Il Duomo

Daily 8am-12:30pm and 4:30-7pm 

Via del Duomo 147 

Transportation Metro: Piazza Cavour 

081-449097 

Free admission to the cathedral

The Cathedral of Naples was consecrated in 1315.  It was Gothic in style, but has been altered  over the centuries:  the facade is from the 1800s. The Duomo has access to the 4th-century Basilica of St. Restituta, the earliest Christian basilica erected in Naples. The Chapel of San Gennaro (Cappella di San Gennaro), is entered from the south aisle of the Cathedral. The altar is said to contain the blood of St. Gennaro, patron saint of Naples. The church contains two vials of the saint's blood, said to liquefy and boil three times annually (the first Sun in May, Sept 19, and Dec 16).

 

National Archaeological Museum (Museo Archeologico Nazionale

Mon and Wed-Sun 9am-7pm 

Piazza Museo Nazionale 18-19 

Transportation Metro: Piazza Cavour 

081-440166

With its Roman and Greek sculpture, this museum contains one of Europe's most valuable archaeological collections.  Particularly notable are the Farnese acquisitions and the mosaics and sculpture excavated at Pompeii and Herculaneum. The building dates from the 16th century and was turned into a museum two centuries later by Charles and Ferdinand IV of Bourbon

The mezzanine galleries are devoted to mosaics excavated from Pompeii and Herculaneum. These include scenes of cockfights, dragon-tailed satyrs, an aquarium, and Alexander Fighting the Persians. On the top floor,  are some of the celebrated bronzes dug out of the Pompeii volcanic mud and the Herculaneum lava.

 

National Museum & Gallery of the Capodimonte (Museo e Gallerie Nazionale di Capodimonte)

Tues-Sun 8:30am-7:30pm 

Via Miano 2 

Location In the Palazzo Capodimonte, Parco di Capodimonte (off Amedeo di Savoia) 

Transportation Bus: 22 or 23 

081-7499111

This museum and gallery, two of Italy's finest, are housed in the 18th-century Capodimonte Palace, built in the time of Charles III and set in a park.

One of the picture gallery's greatest possessions is Simone Martini's Coronation, depicting the brother of Robert of Anjou being crowned king of Naples by the bishop of Toulouse. Another room is filled with the works of Renaissance masters, notably an Adoration of the Child, by Luca Signorelli; a Madonna and Child, by Perugino; a panel by Raphael; a Madonna and Child with Angels, by Botticelli; and, the most beautiful, Filippino Lippi's Annunciation and Saints.

Another room is devoted to Flemish art.  The State Apartments downstairs contain room after room devoted to gilded mermaids, Venetian sedan chairs, ivory carvings, a porcelain chinoiserie salon, tapestries, the Farnese armory, and a large glass and china collection.

 

New Castle (Castel Nuovo)

Mon-Sat 9am-7pm 

Piazza del Municipio 

Transportation Tram: 1 or 4. Bus: R2 

081-7952003

The New Castle, housing municipal offices, was built in the late 13th century on orders from Charles I, king of Naples, as a royal residence for the House of Anjou. It was badly damaged and then reconstructed in the mid-15th century by the House of Aragón. The castle is distinguished by a trio of imposing round battle towers at its front; between two of the towers, guarding the entrance, is a triumphal arch designed by Francesco Laurana to commemorate the 1442 expulsion of the Angevins by the forces of Alphonso I. It's a masterpiece of the Renaissance. The Palatine Chapel in the center is from the 14th century, and the city commission of Naples meets in the Barons' Hall, designed by Segreta of Catalonia.

 

Royal Palace (Palazzo Reale) 

Thurs-Tues 9am-8pm 

Piazza del Plebiscito 1 

Transportation Bus: 106 or 150 

081-7944021

This palace was designed by Domenico Fontana in the 17th century, and the eight statues on the facade are of Neapolitan kings. Located in the heart of the city, the square on which the palace stands is one of Naples's most architecturally interesting, with a long colonnade and a church, San Francesco di Paolo, in the style of the Pantheon in Rome.

 

San Domenico Maggiore

Daily 8:30am-noon and 5-7:30pm 

Piazza San Domenico Maggiore 8A 

Transportation Bus: 24, 42, E1, R1, R3, R4, or V10 

081-459188

This massive Gothic structure was built from 1289 to 1324 and then was rebuilt in the Renaissance and early baroque eras.  The first chapel on the right aisle is a Renaissance masterpiece of design and sculpture by Tuscans Antonio and Romolo da Settignano. The third chapel on the right contains frescoes from 1309 by Roman master Pietro Cavallini (a contemporary of Giotto). The seventh chapel on the right is the Crucifixion Chapel (Cappella del Crocifisso), with some Renaissance tombs and a copy of the 12th-century Crucifixion painting that spoke to St. Thomas Aquinas. Next door, the Sacristy has a bright ceiling fresco by Francesco Solimena (1706) and small caskets containing the ashes of Aragonese rulers and important courtiers.

 

San Lorenzo Maggiore

Mon-Sat 9am-5:30pm; Sun 9am-1:30pm 

Piazza San Gaetano Via Tribunali 316 

Transportation Bus: 105, 105r, or E1 

081-290580, 081-454948 for scavi (ruins)

The greatest of Naples's layered churches was built in 1265 for Charles I over a 6th-century basilica, which lay over many ancient remains. The interior is pure Gothic, with tall pointed arches and an apse off which radiate nine chapels. This is where, in 1334, Boccaccio first saw  Robert of Anjou's daughter, Maria, who became "Fiammetta" in his writings

San Lorenzo preserves the best and most extensive remains of the ancient Greek and Roman cities currently open to the public. The church foundations are actually the walls of Neapolis's basilican law courts. In the cloisters are excavated shards of the Roman city's treasury and marketplace. In the crypt are the rough remains of a Roman-era shop-lined street, a Greek temple, and a medieval building.

 

Santa Chiara 

Daily 7am-12:30pm and 4:30-8pm 

Via Benedetto Croce 

Transportation Metro: Montesanto 

081-5526280

On a palazzo-flanked street, this church was built on orders from Robert the Wise, king of Naples, in the early 14th century. It became the church for the House of Anjou. Although World War II bombers heavily blasted it, it has been restored somewhat to its original look, a Gothic style favored by the Provencal architects. The light-filled interior is lined with chapels, each of which contains leftover bits of sculpture or fresco from the medieval church.  Behind the High Altar is the towering multilevel tomb of Robert the Wise d'Angio, sculpted by Giovanni and Pacio Bertini in 1343. To its right,  is Tino di Camaino's tomb of Charles, duke of Calabria; and on the left is the 1399 monument to Mary of Durazza.

 

Nearby Attractions

 

Ruins of Pompeii

Take the Circumvesuviana commuter train (downstairs at the main Naples train station) to the Ercolano stop

The ancient city of Pompeii was buried by Mount Vesuvius's volcanic eruption on the morning of August 23, AD 79.  The foremost building in Pompeii is the Basilica, which served as the law court and stock exchange. There is also the Foro, or Forum, which is surrounded by the main temples as well as commercial and government buildings. It was there that elections were held and speeches and official announcements made. Try to get to Pompeii early in the day to avoid the crowds and the hot sun.

 

Herculaneum

Take the Circumvesuviana commuter train (downstairs at the main Naples train station) to the Ercolano stop

Admission includes tickets for  Oplontis, Pompeii, and 2 other sites over a 3 day period.

Apr.-Oct., daily 8:30-7:30, (ticket office closes at 6); Nov.-Mar., daily 8:30-5, (ticket office closes at 3:30).

Corso Ercolano, a 5-min walk downhill from the Ercolano Circumvesuviana station, Ercolano, Italy

081/8575347

In AD 79 the gigantic eruption of Vesuvius (which also destroyed Pompeii) buried the town under a tide of volcanic mud. The semi-liquid mass seeped into the crevices and openings of every building.   It covered household objects and enveloped textiles and wood.   It preserved them in the process in airtight safety for future generations to explore.

Some excavation began in the 18th century, but systematic digs were not begun until the 1920s. Today, less than half of Herculaneum has been excavated; with present-day Ercolano and the Resina Quarter (the area's largest secondhand-clothing market) sitting on top of the site, progress is limited. From the ramp leading down to Herculaneum's neatly laid-out streets and well-preserved buildings, one can get a good overall view of the site, as well as an idea of the amount of volcanic debris that had to be removed to bring it to light. The experience leaves the visitor wishing that more archeological discovery could be undertaken in the area.

 

Capri

From Naples, take a short ferry or hydrofoil ride to the fabulous island of Capri, known as the playground of the rich and famous. Upon arrival at the dock, take the tramway up to the small town of Capri. The famous Piazzetta square in the center of town is a good place to shop or enjoy something to eat or drink. A walking tour of the town reveals the magnificent garden terraces, historic churches and villas. At the nearby town of Anacapri, a chair lift travels to the top of one of the highest peaks on the island for a panoramic view of the Bay of Naples.


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