Italy is blessed with an extremely rich culture, be it in terms of art or architecture, music or food. Rome and Milan are two of the largest municipalities of Italy, and also tourist hot spots. But located in southern Italy, the city of Naples is no less equipped to provide you with a quintessentially Italian experience. A sojourn into this cultural and historic center will impress all visitors through its varied architectural landmarks, breath taking artistic productions of the past, culinary delights, and picturesque locales.
There are numerous religious structures and churches in Naples, dating as far back as 12th and 13th century, these buildings incorporate several architectural styles and foreign influences.
Naples Cathedral, Naples’ main church, for instance is a famous tourist attraction. Its construction began as early as 13th century, and additions were done over subsequent centuries till as late as 19th century. The Santa Restituta a church dedicated to the eponymous saint was incorporated within the Cathedral since 13th century. The Paleo-Christian church otherwise is a structure that dates back to the 6th century. The Royal Chapel of the Treasure of San Gennaro is also contained within the larger structures of the Cathedral. This chapel is dedicated to San Gennaro, who also happens to be the city’s patron saint. It was built in the 16th century, and boasts of the assistance of many the then famous artists. The chapel has predominantly baroque influence, and is among few of the most prolifically ornamental sections of the Cathedral. The Naples Cathedral is also famous for the Miracle of the Blood.There are various legends associated with the Miracle of Blood, and many scientific investigations have been undertaken to explain this. The cathedral is a beautiful landmark owing to its stunning interior. Marble decorations, silver reliquary busts, bronze railings, brass gates, frescoes, and art works and decorations all combine to create a dazzling look.
There are numerous other churches across Naples. Santa Maria Constantinopoli is a 16th century church that houses the famous 17th century altarpiece of Madonna of the Purity. Sant’Angelo a Nilo, a 15th century church contains one of the city’s most spectacular sculptural offering- the tomb of Cardinal Rainaldo Brancacci. Santa Maria in Portico harmonizes to distinct architectural styles, the Baroque and the Mannerist styles, within its design. Santa Maria Del Carmine, basilica church San Paolo Maggiore, Santa Caterina a Chiaia are some of the other major religious buildings that make the Naples terrain so distinctive and historical. These churches are not only architectural marvels, but have extremely rich historical trajectories as well.
Naples has an extremely diverse history, with French, British, Spanish and Austrian influences over its long span of past settlements. Fortifications were an essential part of Naples’ history. Today the many of these medieval castles are important and impressive tourist sites, besides having fascinating histories and legends associated to them.
Castel Nuovo, built under Naples’ first king Charles I, stands today as the most prominent landmark of the city of Naples. This castle whose construction began as far back as 1279, is a medieval castle locally and popularly known as Maschio Angionio. The castle also has rooms which have glass bottoms, providing clear view of the catacombs, and of ancient bone remains that lie below the surface. It is an imposing structure, with the whole profile of the castle against the backdrop of the city’s scenic beauty and with its old and captivating past.
Castel dell’Ovo which literally translates as Egg Castle has amazing architectural features as well as intriguing stories and myths associated with its name. Located on the seaside the castle is a highly photogenic site with a stone causeway joining it with the surrounding village. Virgil, popular Roman poet was thought to be a magician back in medieval times, and legends associated with him were foremost in giving this castle its unusual name. The legend goes that the fortification is supported by a magical egg placed in its foundations. None other than Virgil placed this egg, hence the name Egg Castle. Castel dell’Ovo also happens to be the oldest castle in Naples. There are few other castles, for instance a 14th century castle made in the shape of a star, the Castel Sant’Elmo among others.
Villa Piganatelli and Villa Floridiana are among the most popular and beautiful of villas and parks in Naples. Built in 19th century, these neo-classical residential structures are surrounded by stunning and well maintained parks. Palms, pines, innumerable flowers providing a colorful terrain are some of the features present in both these places. Villa Floridiana also houses a museum; it displays an impressive assortment of English and French vehicles which date back to 18th century and later. These are popular sites among both tourists as well as local people.
Situated on Posillipo hill, named after Roman poet Virgil, it is also known as the Park of Remembrance. It hosts several different events within its grounds, and also contains a small amphitheater. But more than these, this park in Naples is popular as a place that provides some breath taking views of the city of Naples and its surroundings. One can look as far as the islands of Capri, and Ischia. Mount Vesuvius, Amalfi Coast, and Nisida Island are all visible from here and provide a visual treat. Nisida Island is also popular among tourists; this circular volcanic islet is a beautiful location, with the stone bridge connecting it to the mainland.
Several ancient ruins are found here, and many theories air the view that this used to be Brutus’ home too. Besides beauty, this islet is also steeped in the fascinating Roman history.
The historical trajectory of Naples has an impressive span of twenty seven centuries. The historic city center of Naples is also among the list of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. Besides its ancient and medieval monuments, the many museums and galleries of Naples also display the spectacular cultural past of Italy. The Naples National Archaeological Museum houses some spectacular artifacts from the Hellenistic era as well as those received from the ruins of Pompeii.
Museo di Capodimonte is an art gallery which contains masterpieces of such artists as Michelangelo, Botticelli and Raphael. Naples is a food lover’s heaven, as this happens to be the home of pizza. The world famous and delicious pizzas originated here. Pizzerias located on Via dei Tribunali are a must visit for an unforgettable culinary experience.
The buzzing city of Naples represents the vivacious pulse of Italy at its best, and leaves all travelers with a sensory delight and makes for an enchanting journey.