Naples Tourist Attractions
SituationThe south Italian port town of Naples, principal town of the region of Campania and of the province of Nápoli, lies on the north side of the Bay of Naples, on the Tyrrhenian Sea, extending along the lower slopes of attractive hills.
General informationThe old town with its narrow streets and stepped lanes and its tall balconied houses is fringed on the west and north by extensive villa suburbs and on the east by an industrial zone. In recent years much of the city has been redeveloped with new buildings and realigned streets, particularly in the area around the harbor, the Rione Santa Lucia.Naples possesses many historical monuments going back almost 3,000 years, particularly the treasures, to be seen in the National Museum, garnered from the cities engulfed by Vesuvius; the port of Naples is of major importance for southern Italy.In November 1980 there was severe damage from earthquakes.HistoryNaples was originally a Greek foundation. As early as the eighth century B.C. the site was occupied by the Rhodian settlement of Parthenope, near which settlers from Kyme (Latin Cumae), itself a colony established by Ionians from Euboea, founded the "old town", Palaiopolis, in the seventh century. In the fifth century the "new town", Neapolis, was founded, mainly by incomers from Chalcis on Euboea. In 326 B.C. the three settlements became allies of Rome and were amalgamated. Although favored by Rome for its faithfulness to the alliance, Neapolis preserved its independence and its distinctive Greek characteristics until late in the Imperial period. The town became a favorite residence of the Roman magnates, and Virgil composed some of his finest poetry here.During the period of the Great Migration, in 543, the town fell into the hands of the Goths, but returned to Byzantine rule in 553 and thereafter succeeded in asserting its independence until conquered by the Normans in 1139 and incorporated by Roger II in his kingdom of Sicily. Roger's grandson Frederick II of Hohenstaufen founded the university in 1224. In the reign of Charles of Anjou (1266-85) Naples became capital of the kingdom. In 1442 Alfonso I of Aragon reunited the kingdoms of Sicily and Naples. From 1503 to 1707 Naples was the residence of Spanish viceroys. Following the War of the Spanish Succession the territory passed in 1713 to the Habsburgs, and after the War of the Austrian Succession (1734) to the Bourbons, with whom it remained until its incorporation in the new united Italy in 1860.
To the east of the palace and the Castel Nuovo in Naples extends the harbor, divided into separate docks and basins by a series of piers and breakwaters, which is always a bustle of activity. Extending east from the Piazza del Municipio is the Molo Angioino, on which is the Marine Station. To the west of this is the Eliporto (Heliport), from which there are regular helicopter services to Capri, Ischia, Capodichino Airport (7km/4.5mi north), etc. Farther south, from the quay on the Calata di Beverello, boats sail to Ponza, Capri and Ischia.The harbor of Naples is the primary place to visit, with it's beautiful scenery and numerous cafes and ice cream parlors. The Margherita pizza, the original pizza, is a 'must eat' when visiting.
To the west of the Piazza del Plesbiscito, on the slopes of Pizzofalcone and extending down to the sea, lies the district of Santa Lucia. South of the wide Via Santa Lucia this is an area of modern streets laid out on a regular plan, but to the north of that street it is a picturesque huddle of narrow stepped lanes in which the traditional Neapolitan way of life can be observed at any time of the day but particularly in the evening.From the southeast corner of the Piazza del Plesbiscito a succession of streets runs round the east and south sides of the Santa Lucia district - first Via Cesario Console, which passes the Giardini Pubblici; then Via Nazario Sauro and Via Partenope, in which there are several large luxury hotels; and finally, beyond the Piazza della Vittoria, Via Caracciolo, which affords magnificent views of the Bay of Naples.
Between Via Caracciolo and the fine Riviera di Chiaia to the north extends the Villa Comunale, a park laid out in 1780, almost 1.5km/1mile long, which is Naple's most popular promenade.
Half-way along the Villa Comunale we find the Zoological Station, an important biological research institution founded by a German scientist, Anton Dorn, in 1870. In the central block is an Aquarium with 31 tanks which give an excellent survey of the fauna of the Bay of Naples.
Northwest of the Aquarium, in a park just north of the Riviera di Chiaia, is the Villa Pignatelli, once the residence of Prince Diego Aragona Pignatelli Cortes, with a richly appointed interior in the styles of the 18th and 19th centuries (open to visitors; a fine collection of furniture and chinoiserie).
From the Piazza Trieste e Trento (also called Via Toledo after Don Pedro de Toledo who built it), the city's principal traffic artery and a scene of constant bustle and activity, runs north for a distance of 2km/1.25mi, rising gently uphill. It is crossed by numerous streets and lanes, many of those on the left being stepped lanes climbing up to the Corso Vittorio Emanuele (4km/2.5mi long: beautiful views). The streets on the right, descending to the harbor and the Marine Station, are the center of the city's business and commercial life. At the end of Via Roma, the continuation of Via Toledo, is the spacious Piazza Dante.
The Cathedral has a history dating back to the late 13th C. However, earthquakes and restoration work have altered it from its original appearance. The cathedral is dedicated to St Januarius, whose skull resides in a bust on the main altar.
The southeast of Naples includes the areas around Central Station and the University.
Santa Maria del Carmine
From the Central Station the Corso Garibaldi runs south to Piazza G. Pepe, to the right of which stands the church of Santa Maria del Carmine, containing the tomb of Conradin of Hohenstaufen, Frederick II's grandson, who was beheaded at the age of sixteen. Above the tomb is a statue of Conradin from a design by Thorwaldsen (1847).
Santa Croce al Mercato
Northwest of Santa Maria del Carmine, in the Piazza del Mercato, is the church of Santa Croce al Mercato, on the spot on which Conradin was executed on October 29th 1268 on the orders of Charles I of Anjou. Inside the church, to the left of the entrance, a commemorative porphyry column can be seen.
From Piazza Garibaldi the broad Corso Umberto I runs southwest to the University, with its massive main building (1908) facing the street and behind it the former Jesuit college (1605) which was the only university building from 1777 to 1908. To the east is the church of Santi Severino e Sossio (1494; rebuilt 1731 onwards).
Piazza Giovanni Bovio
Corso Umberto I runs into the Piazza Giovanni Bovio, with the new Exchange and an old Fountain of Neptune.
The National Archeological Museum in Naples contains royal collections, including those of kings of Naples, Farnese collections, and pieces from Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Cumae..
Corso Amedeo di Savoia
The Corso Amedeo di Savoia in Naples is home to the large domed church of Santa Maria della Sanità and the Catacombs of San Gennaro.
Santa Maria della Sanità
From the National Museum in Naples Via Santa Teresa degli Scalzi and the Corso Amedeo di Savoia run north, slightly uphill, to the park of Capodimonte, 2km/1.25mi away. In 750m/820yd it comes to the Ponte della Senità, a viaduct (lift) which carries the road over the low-lying Sanità district. Below, to the right, is the large domed church of Santa Maria della Sanità (1602-13), with the Catacombs of San Gaudioso (fifth century).
Catacombs of San Gennaro
The Corso Amedeo di Savoia in Naples ends at a roundabout, the Tondo di Capodimonte, on the west side of which is the entrance to the second century Catacombs of San Gennaro. Like the Roman catacombs, these consist of a maze of passages and tomb chambers, but are more ambitious architecturally and have finer paintings than their Roman counterparts. The church of San Gennaro extra Moenia dates from the fifth century (restored).
Madre del Buon Consiglio
From the Tondo di Capodimonte in Naples the Via Capodimonte, to the left, leads in 200m/220yd to the imposing pilgrimage church (on the left) of the Madre del Buon Consiglio (1920-60).
Beyond the Madre del Buon Consiglio the Via Capodimonte curves up to the Porta Grande, the main entrance to the magnificent Capodimonte Park.
Royal Palace (Capodimonte Museum)
In the Palazzo Reale di Capodimonte is the National Gallery (Galleria Nazionale), one of the finest collections in Italy, with more than 500 pictures, including works by Titian (portraits of members of ruling families from the Farnese collection), Mantegna, Caravaggio, El Greco, Bellini and Neapolitan artists of the 17th and 18th century.
To the west of the old town of Naples, on a plateau above the Corso Vittorio Emanuele, the district of Vomero, built from 1885 onwards, can be reached by a number of streets and three funiculars.
Carthusian Monastery (Museum)
To the east of the Castel Sant'Elmo in Naples is the former Carthusian monastery of San Martino (1325; rebuilt in the 17th century), with the Museo Nazionale di San Martino. Notable features are the church, richly decorated with marble and pictures of the 17th and 18th centuries, the sacristy, the treasury, the Chiostro dei Procuratori and the main cloisters, with 60 columns of white marble. The museum contains porcelain, cribs, including the Presepe di Cuciniello, a state coach of Charles III's reign (18th century) and relics of the history of Naples and southern Italy in the 18th and 19th centuries.From the room known as the Belvedere there are superb views of Naples, its bay and Vesuvius extending to the Apennines.
On the eastern edge of the Vomero plateau rises the Castel Sant'Elmo (224m/739ft), built in 1329 and extended in the 16th century, with massive walls and underground passages hewn from the rock; it is now used for exhibitions and general events.
In the southern part of the district of Vomero in Naples is the Villa Floridiana public park, with the Museo Nazionale della Ceramica Duca di Martina, which contains enamels, ivories, pottery and porcelain from many different countries.
Address: Via Cimarosa 77, I-80100 Naples, Italy
Opening hours: Closed: Mon
Always closed on: New Year's Day (Jan 1), May Day / Labor Day (May 1), Christmas - Christian (Dec 25)
Useful tips: Closing 1 hour before sunset.
Disability Access: Full facilities for persons with disabilities.
The best view of Naples and its beautiful surroundings is to be had from the Camaldulensian monastery of Camaldoli, northwest of the city on the highest point in the Phlegraean Fields (458m/1,511ft). The monastery was founded in 1585. The prospect from the terrace on a clear day is one of the finest in Italy.
Belvedere della Pagliarella
The same view of Naples as from Camaldoli can be enjoyed from the Belvedere della Pagliarella, 500m/550yd south, reached in 15 minutes by a footpath through the scrub.
Disaccordi Open Air Cinema Festival
The Open-Air Film Festival, held annually for at least twomonths, showcases the best of European and International Cinema. Watch films beneath the stars in an amphiteatre equipped with one of the widest projection screens in Italy, rising up above an artificial lake.
Festival of San Gennaro
The Festival of San Gennaro is held on September 19. It's a religious ceremony to honor the patron saint of the city. It is believed that if the statue of San Gennaro cries on this day, the fortune of the city is affected.
Metro and Light Rail
The initial 9.5km/6 mi section of the 16km/10mi Line 1 of the Naples Metro and light Rail opened late in 1992/93. There are nine stations and the trains run every three minutes. This is the outer portion linking Vanvitelli and Secondigliano. The central section, 5km/3mi from Vanvitelli to Dante, incorporates a dramatic underground spiral loop that descends to the city center, is unlikely to open before 1997. A further portion, from Dante to Garibaldi, is awaiting approval.Operation of the metro is in the hands of the state railroad FS. An extension to the present line, three other lines and two funiculars have been proposed for construction.
More Naples Pictures
Map of Naples Attractions