Underground Naples is another of the essentials of the city. For more than 30 years, Napoli Sotterranea has been offering excursions to the most fascinating and suggestive places in the belly of the city. The members of the Association are committed, without having received any type of financing from public institutions or private organizations, in the recovery and improvement of the subsoil.
Participating in the excursion means taking a journey through history for 2400 years, from the Greek to the modern era, at a depth of 40 meters between tunnels and cisterns. More information here.
The Quartieri Spagnoli (Spanish Quarters) are located in the historic center of Naples, and are made up of the San Ferdinando, Avvocata and Montecalvario neighborhoods.
The neighborhood arose around the 16th century, during the Spanish domination of Naples, with the aim of hosting the Spanish military garrisons destined to suppress possible revolts of the Neapolitan population, or as a temporary residence for those who passed through the city in the direction to other places of conflict.
Since its creation, its labyrinthine and narrow streets have become a place with a bad reputation, due to the abundant prostitution and criminality related to the continuous search for “fun” by the Spanish soldiers.
Despite the promulgation, by the Viceroy of Naples Don Pedro de Toledo, of laws aimed at eradicating these phenomena, the neighborhood has always been an area with great social difficulties. Today, despite having this same fame, it is quite safe and one of the most charming and essential areas of Naples.
The main and most commercial street is Via Toledo, where the ancient churches and palazzi are located.
The lower decumanus, popularly called Spaccanapoli, is one of the most important streets in the historic center of Naples. It is, together with the major decumanus (Via dei Tribunali) and the upper decumanus, one of the three main streets of urban planning from the Greek era that crossed the entire length of ancient Neapolis.
Spaccanapoli gained importance between the Middle Ages and the 19th century for hosting convents for religious orders and residences for powerful men.
Spaccanapoli literally means dividenáples because it clearly divides, with its perfect rectilinear layout, the old center between north and south. Today some of the most important religious buildings are located, such as the Gesù Nuovo church, the Santa Chiara church and the Santo Domingo Mayor church, the Piazzetta Nilo, with the baroque church of Sant’Angelo a Nilo.
The modern conception of Spaccanapoli includes the extensions that have been made in the 16th century, which have lengthened the initial stretch to the Quartieri Spagnoli. In this area is where you can get to know the most authentic Naples and its famous motorcycles touring its alleys. Here you will get to know the authentic Naples, where you will see the scenes of daily life in the city, with its artists and the large number of motorcycles that do not stop passing by. on the streets!
NAPLES CATHEDRAL (DUOMO)
The Naples Cathedral, Duomo di Napoli or Santa Maria Assunta is the most important religious building in the city. The first cathedral was built by Constantine in the 4th century AD, where a temple dedicated to the god Apollo stood. The current one was built by the House of Anjou and inaugurated in 1314. It is a truly incredible construction, with a large number of priceless works inside. It houses the oldest baptistery in the West and the Baroque-style treasure chapel has the silver statue of the bust of Naples’ main patron saint, San Gennaro (which guards the saint’s head). Entrance to the temple is free and access to the Baptistery costs 1.50 euros per person.
The Sansevero Chapel (also called the Church of Santa Maria della Pietà or Pietatella) is one of the main museums in Naples. Located around Piazza San Domenico Maggiore, this church is adjacent to the Sangro Palace, home of the princes of Sansevero. It was separated by an alley that was crossed by a bridge that allowed the family to access the chapel directly. The chapel houses the works of art of the Veiled Christ by Giuseppe Sanmartino, known for the transparencies of the marble veil that covers the figure of the dead Christ, the Modesty by Antonio Corradini and the Disappointment by Francesco Queirolo.
CATACUMBE OF SAN GENNARO
The Catacombs of San Gennaro are underground Paleo-Christian burial centers, located in the capital of Campania, dating back to the 2nd century AD. It is located in the northern part of Naples, on the slope that leads to Capodimonte, in the Sanità district. The San Gennaro area extends to 5,600 square meters excavated in the volcanic tuff of the Capodimonte hill and has 3,000 burials. The place is easily identified by the great church of Madre del Buon Consiglio. Via Tondo di Capodimonte 13.
MONASTERY OF SANTA CHIARA
The Basilica and Convent of Santa Clara is the largest Gothic church in the city. They were built between 1310 and 1340, on top of a complex of Roman baths from the 1st century AD, and very close to the western wall of the city. . The monastic complex includes a monastery with four monumental cloisters, archaeological excavations and a museum where you can see Giotto’s frescoes in the rooms that were occupied by nuns. On the first Saturday of the month of May, the capsules containing the blood of San Gennaro, patron saint of Naples, are transferred in a solemn procession from the Cathedral of Naples to this basilica, to celebrate in it the phenomenon of the liquefaction of the saint’s blood martyr every September 19. It is especially recommended for its beautiful and well-kept garden, the walls decorated with tiles and the tonality of its walls. It is one of the places less frequented by tourists and contrasts with the rest of the city for its tranquility and mysticism in chaotic Naples. Price 18 euros. More information here.
Piazza del Plebiscito is the main square in Naples. Located in the heart of the city and with an area of about 25,000 square meters, in the square are some of the most important historical buildings such as the Royal Palace, the Basilica of San Francisco de Paula, the Palace of the Prefecture and the Salerno Palace. Nearby are the Umberto I Gallery and the San Carlo Theater.
ROYAL PALACE OF NAPLES
The Royal Palace was the residence of the Spanish viceroys and then of the Bourbon dynasty for more than a hundred years, from 1734 to 1861, first as kings of Naples and Sicily (1734-1816) and later as kings of the Two Sicilies (1816). -1861). During the years 1806 and 1815, this use was interrupted for a decade, with the French rule and the government of José Bonaparte and Joaquín Murat (1806-1815). After the Italian Unification in 1861, it passed into the hands of the Savoys, until King Victor Emmanuel III ceded it to the Italian State in 1919. Then, the palace was opened to the public and its western half became the Royal Apartment museum, while the east became the headquarters of the National Library, uses that continue today.
BASILICA OF SAN FRANCISCO DE PAULA
The Basilica of San Francisco de Paula is one of the largest churches in the city and considered the most important Italian church of the neoclassical period. In the year 1809, King Joachim Murat ordered the demolition of the old convents of the Largo di Palazzo (the current Plaza del Plebiscito) and called a public tender for the construction of a new square.
The Castel Nuovo (or New Castle) and popularly known as Maschio Angioino (Angevin Tower), is a medieval Italian castle and a symbol of the city. It is an essential that must be visited, both outside and inside. Its construction dates from the time of Charles of Anjou, who after his accession to the throne of the kingdoms of Naples and Sicily in 1266 moved the capital from Palermo to Naples; Despite the fact that the Castel dell’Ovo and the Castel Capuano already existed in the city, Carlos ordered the choice of another castle to house his court. In 1294 it was the scene of the abdication of Pope Celestine V and the election of his successor Boniface VIII. The imposing white marble triumphal arch, built in 1470, commemorates the entry of Alfonso V of Aragon into Naples in 1443.
CASTEL DELL’OVOThe Castel dell’Ovo (Egg Castle) is situated on the islet of Megaride. When Naples was conquered by the Romans, the islet was fortified. According to some sources, the last Western Roman emperor, Romulus Augustus, was imprisoned in the fortress then known as Castrum Lucullanum. In its current form, the castle was built in 1128 by the Normans and used as the residence of the kings of Naples and the repository of the kingdom’s treasure. Its name comes from a Neapolitan legend according to which Virgilio would have hidden a magical egg in the foundations of the castle, one of the oldest in the region. Without this magical egg, the fortress would be destroyed and Naples would suffer a catastrophe. Currently the public is allowed to enter the castle and you can appreciate the majesty of the fortress and the terrace with cannons. From the citadel, the beautiful views towards Naples and the bay with Vesuvius.
Castel Sant’Elmo is a medieval castle, now a museum, located on the Vomero hill. This mighty building, the largest castle in the city, is partly carved out of the living rock and comes from a Norman observation tower called Belforte. Due to its strategic importance, the possession of the castle has always been highly coveted: from its position, 250 meters above sea level, you can control the entire city, the gulf and the streets that lead to Naples from the surrounding heights.
CERTOSA DI SAN MARTINO
The Charterhouse of San Martino, also known as the Charterhouse of Naples, is located on the Vomero hill, next to Castel Sant’Elmo. It constitutes one of the largest religious monumental complexes and one of the best examples of Baroque architecture in the Neapolitan city, together with the Royal Chapel of the Treasure of San Gennaro, as well as being a fundamental legacy for 17th century Neapolitan painting. It has about a hundred rooms, two churches, four chapels, three cloisters and hanging gardens. One of the most important points of the visit is the famous collection of presepi or Neapolitan nativity scenes. The charterhouse contains complete Christmas scenes from the 18th century, such as the “Beggar with Cataracts” made in 1780 by Giuseppe Samaritano, whose best-known work is the jewel of the Veiled Christ in the Chapel of San Severo.
BASILICA OF SAN LORENZO MAGGIORE
The Basilica of San Lorenzo Maggiore is one of the oldest monumental basilicas in the city, located in Piazza San Gaetano, in the heart of the historic center. Historically and artistically it is one of the most relevant monumental complexes in the city. Inside the convent is the Museo dell’Opera di San Lorenzo Maggiore.
OBELISK OF SAN GENNARO AND DELL’IMMACOLATA
L’obelisco di San Gennaro (or more precisely the guglia, the spire of San Gennaro) is a Baroque obelisk located in Riario Sforza square, between the royal chapel of the Treasury of San Gennaro and the Pius Monte della Misericordia.
The Obelisk of the Immaculate Conception, also Baroque, is located in Piazza del Gesù Nuovo, opposite the homonymous church. Both date from the 16th and 18th centuries respectively.
BORGO SANTA LUCIA
The port of Santa Lucia, or simply, Santa Lucia, is a historic district of Naples, which rises around the street whose name was taken from the sanctuary-parish Santa Lucia a Mare that is located on the same street. It extends through Santa Lucia and Orsini streets with those that cross them, the Megaride islet with Borgo Marinari and Castel dell’Ovo, as well as Piazza della Vittoria by Chiatamone street and part of the Partenope, at least to the headquarters of the newspaper Il Mattino. Towards the other side, it includes the Royal Palace of Naples, the Molosiglio and Cesario Console Street, formerly known as Rua dei Provenzali (and the neighborhood as Porto dei Provenzali). A good walk is necessary during the visit to the city.
NATIONAL MUSEUM OF CAPODIMONTE
The National Museum of Capodimonte, located in the Capodimonte area, houses several galleries of ancient art, contemporary art and a historic apartment. The main collections house works by great names in Italian and international painting such as Raphael, Titian, Parmigianino, Brueghel the Elder, El Greco, Ludovico Carracci or Guido Reni.
NATIONAL ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSEUM OF NAPLES
The MANN is considered one of the most important museums of its kind in Europe, both for the quality and quantity of the works it exhibits. The building where the museum is housed, which began to be built in 1585, is of great architectural interest as it is one of the main monumental palaces in Naples. The museum is made up of four fundamental nuclei: the Farnese Collection, made up of objects from Rome and its surroundings; the Pompeian collections, with testimonies from Pompeii, Herculaneum, Stabiae, Boscoreale and other ancient archaeological sites in the Vesuvius area, belonging mainly to the Bourbon collections; other objects belonging to smaller collections, acquired or donated to the museum (for example, the Stefano Borgia collection, the Santangelo, the Stevens, the Spinelli).
PORTA NOLANA MARKET
The Porta Nolana market is a pedestrian market, mainly for shellfish, fish, fruit and other gastronomic products on Via Nolana and close to the homonymous medieval gate.
UMBERTO I GALLERY
The Umberto I Gallery is a commercial gallery opened in Naples in 1890, in the style of the Victor Emmanuel II Gallery in Milan. Located on Via San Carlo, next to the San Carlos theater and near the Castel Nuovo, it is one of the city’s must-sees.
SAN CARLO THEATER
The San Carlos Theater is the most important theater in Naples and one of the most famous in the world. Opened in November 1737, it is the oldest active opera house in the world. Due to its dimensions and structure, it has been the model for the construction of other theaters in Europe.