Naples National Archaeological Museum

Naples - National Archeological Museum - Sala Meridiana
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The Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli (Naples National Archeological Museum) was founded by King Charles III during the second half of the 18th century. He converted a cavalry barracks in one of the most important Italian museum.

The museum houses a unique collection of Roman antiquities. The majority of the pieces showcase in the museum came from the Farnese Collection. This collection is very important because includes many copies of ancient Greek sculptures otherwise lost. In the last few years a part of these statues have been moved to the Museo di Capodimonte.

Many of the sculptures has forged our perception of mythological figures, like the Farnese Hercules, or have taught us how the ancient have seen the western constellations (the Farnese Atlas).  The massive Farnese Bull is considered the biggest single ancient sculpture ever found.

A lot of this statues once were located in the Caracalla Bath in Rome.

Famous all around the world are the unique Herculaneum papyri that survived the eruption of the Vesuvius in 79 AD. In the same villa where the papyri were found a beautiful collection of bronzes was discovered too.

From Pompeii where brought here many stunning mosaics.

The museum houses a large collection of Egyptian artifacts; most of these pieces come from two different sets: the Cardinal Borgia’s and the Picchianti’s.

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Under the Bourbon Monarchy, another collection was added to the museum: the one hosted in the Secret Cabinet. This collection has a unique story: the pieces showcases came from Pompeii and Herculaneum and for years they were hidden because of their erotic and sexual nature. At the beginning only adult people could visit the rooms, later to avoid to be considered lascivious the collection was locked up.

Only when Garibaldi conquered the city the door of this secret rooms were opened again. However it took more than a century to completely open it to the public. Visitors under the age of 14 can only entered the rooms with an adult.


Church of San Francesco da Paola – Naples

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The Church of San Francesco da Paola is situated in Naples’ main square Piazza del Plebiscito.

When the building was designed it was meant to become a tribute to Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. The construction in fact started during the reign of Joachim Murat Napoleon’s brother-in-law. However after the Frenches were defeated and the Bourbons regained their kingdom the building was converted into a church dedicated to Saint Francis of Paola; during the 16th century the saint lived in a monastery located in the same spot of the new building.

Things to see

The church design was inspired by the Pantheon in Rome. A beautiful portico with six columns and two Ionic pillars was added in front of the façade. The church has a circular plans with two chapels on the side. A 53 meters high dome complete this beautiful building.

Piazza Del Plebiscito – Naples

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Piazza del Plebiscito is Naples’ most important square. The construction was planned by Joachim Murat King of Naples during the Bonaparte dominion. The semicircular plaza was meant to be dedicated to Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte; however the French were defeat before the piazza was finished. When Ferdinand I regain is throne he decided to continue with the construction, though he converted one of the buildings in a church dedicated to Saint Francis of Paola, a saint who lived in a monastery situated in the same spot few centuries before.

Things to see

The plaza is located near the stunning Gulf of Naples and it was named after the plebiscite that unified Naples with the newly born Kingdom of Italy in 1863. In the east side of the square is situated the beautiful Royal Palace built by Domenico Fontana. On the west side right in front of the Church of St. Francis da Paola stand two equestrian statues, one represent King Ferdinand I and the second one King Charles III.

Piazza del Plebiscito hosted many times unique open-air concerts.

Castel Dell’Ovo – Naples

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The Castel dell‘Ovo is the oldest castle in Naples and is one of the most famous standing attractions in the gulf. The architectural structure of the castle has changed dramatically since it was first built in the 1st century BCE; once a part of Lucius Lucullus’ massive villa, the castle underwent many reconstructions and improvements to become what we see today.

Originally built as a splendid villa by the Roman politician Lucius Lucullus, it was a grand display of wealth and power. It was later fortified to provide a home to Romolo Augusto, the last Emperor of Rome – and ironically became his grave following a successful assassination. During the early medieval period, the villa was converted into a monastery inhabited by Basilian monks. Much of the monastery was lost when the castle was destroyed by the Saracens when Naples felt into their hands. Because of its strategic location, the remains were converted into a fortress during the 12th century to guard the gulf.

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Over the centuries, the fortress was partially destroyed due to several events such as an earthquake during the 14thcentury or the French and Spanish attacks during the 16th century. In the 19th century, Naples underwent a massive period of urban restructuring, during which time the castle was meant for destruction but was left to disrepair instead.

Today, the castle is open to visitors following extensive renovations in the late 20th century. Its largest rooms are now used for exhibitions and conventions both private and public. Nearby on the coast, in the Borgo Marinari, there are several restaurants and bars that visitors can enjoy.

Gallery Umberto I – Naples

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Located in front of the famous Teatro di San Carlo is the gorgeous Galleria Umberto I, a large shopping center in the heart of central Naples.

Originally designed by the architect Emanuele Rocco it was completed in 1891, during a period of intense urban cleansing famous as the “Risanamento”.  The Galleria Umberto I is a wonderful architectural exploit worth visiting; Rocco was influenced by the stunning Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan. The Galleria was dedicated to King Umberto I, who was the sovereign of Italy at the time of its construction.

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This gallery is a cross-shaped structure with high glass vaulted ceilings supported by metal ribs and, in the center, a large glass cupola. It was intended as both a public and private space, where cafes, restaurants and various shops occupied the bottom two floors of the buildings while apartments took the top floor. It quickly became a mercantile hub, not only for the public space it generated but also due to its central location and proximity to a number of cultural sites.

After a period of decay the Gallery Umberto I today is again a very important public location for the city of Naples.

San Carlo Opera House – Naples

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Also known as Royal Theater of Saint Charles, the Teatro di San Carlo is an opera house connected to the Royal Palace in Piazza del Plebiscito, at the center of Naples. Considered to be the oldest continuously active theatre in Europe, it was opened to the public in 1737, well before other famed opera houses such as the Teatro alla Scala in Milan or the Teatro La Fenice in Venice.

Originally commissioned by King Charles VII of Naples in the early 18th century, the theater was designed by architects Giovanni Antonio Medrano and Angelo Carasale, and was inaugurated in 1737. The grandiose theater can hold over 3000 people, plus a royal box overlooking the floor that can contain an additional ten spectators. Over the years, the opera house hosted some of the most renowned musicians, singers and composers of their time.

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Although somewhat plain from the outside, the interior of the theater is richly decorated with gold decorations, statues of important figures, and an impressive fresco on the ceiling depicting Apollo and Athena as patrons of the arts. The Teatro di San Carlo was renovated and improved a number of times, most notably after it sustained damage from bombings during World War II.

While it is no longer the center of the classical music scene of Italy today, the Teatro di San Carlo remains one of the most important opera houses in Europe.

Royal Palace – Naples

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Located in the heart of Naples is the Royal Palace, a grand structure that was once the residence of the Bourbon Kings. It faces the Piazza del Plebiscito and shares the space with two other palaces, Palazzo della Prefettura and Palazzo Salerno, as well as the impressive Basilica di san Francesco di Paola.

Built in the early 17th century by the architect Domenico Fontana, it was intended to host King Philip III of Spain on his visit of the kingdom but he never arrived in Naples so instead, it became the residence of Viceroy Fernando Ruiz de Castro. Over the years, the interior was lavishly decorated with frescoes by various masters then, following the arrival of Charles III of Spain to Naples in 1734, several artists remodeled and expanded the palace. A small theatre and a new wing were added in the later 18th century, while a belvedere and an additional wing were added during the mid 19thcentury.

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In the 1920s, it was decreed that the collection of the National Library be transferred to the palace. Unfortunately, the palace suffered considerable damage from bombs during World War II, requiring extensive renovations to the structure and interiors. Today, the Royal Palace hosts the famed Royal Theatre of Saint Charles, the National Library collection, a museum, and several offices.

Pompeii Archaeological Park

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Pompeii is an amazing archeological site that showcases the day in the life of the Romans. On that fateful day in 79AD the town was covered by ash and lava from the eruption of the overshadowing volcano, Vesuvius.
Everything stopped at that moment and was preserved for 1500 thousand years when it was first rediscovered.

The ash and lava that spewed from the volcano tragically killed the citizens of Pompeii but due to the volcanic material which was soft, the city was wonderfully persevered.  Not only the buildings but also the interiors of the houses and shops were left just as they were on that day creating a great opportunity to experience the daily life in Roman Pompeii.    As you study the walls of the buildings you will find painted messages or advertising for an electoral campaign.  On other walls there are crude jokes directed at particular people.  On the shop walls and entrances you can find the service or product sold there and the name of the owner.  All this gives a fascinating insight into the culture and social fabric of the people of the city.

Things to see

On the outskirts of the town you can view working class and peasant houses and workshops.  You can still see furniture and tools and kitchenware inside the homes.  Also in this area are the brothels what are very clearly marked.

Pompeii was first discovered in the 16th century but it was not until 1738 that excavations began in a systematic way.
For over 250 years now Pompeii has had a steady stream of visitors.  In 1997 Pompeii was designated part of the UNESCO World Heritage sites.  It is one of the top attractions in Italy drawing over 2.5 million visitors.


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Naples is located on the south-western coast of Italy, bracketed by the Sorrento Peninsula and Hill of Posillipo. The ominous Mount Vesuvius rises from the middle of the coast like a giant from an age past. Within the bay are the islands of Capri, Ischia and Procida, all of which are very popular touristic destinations. Other popular attractions located on the coast are the famed ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum, both destroyed by the massive volcanic eruption of 79 AD.

The city is among the oldest uninterruptedly populated municipalities in the entire world. The Greek founded the first settlement during the Bronze Age, later the Roman took the power. After the fall of the Roman Empire the city maintained its importance. For this reason Naples was theatre of many political battles until the end of the 13th century when the city passed under the Spanish control and the Kingdom of Naples was founded. The Spanish ruled for centuries and they deeply influenced the culture of the city: the Neapolitan dialect, the food and the music are perfect examples of this influence. Only in 1861 the territory became part of the newly created Kingdom of Italy. During the Second World War Naples was heavily bombed; its suburbs were basically rebuilt after the war. Also the Port was remodeled, today it is the European’s most important one and in term of number of passengers is the second one in the world.

However Naples has so much to offer also if your interests do not lie only in history! The city is famous for its incredible dynamism, the mouth-watering food and the breath-taking view over the Gulf of Naples!

A culinary tour of the city will leave you speechless: start your day with an espresso, the Neapolitan coffee is considered the best of the Italian peninsula, then try a famous sfogliatella, a shell-shaped filled pastry, and ended your day with the best pizza in the world!

If you want to have a truly authentic Neapolitan experience you can’t miss a concert of traditional Canzone Napoletana. Songs like as ‘O sole mioTorna a SurrientoFuniculì funiculà have played a significant role in the development of the western European popular music.

The city has something for every taste, so if some shopping is part of your dream list in Naples you will have only the spoilt for choice! The stunning Galleria Umberto I for example is a beautiful mall located in the heart of central Naples perfect for a few relaxing hours of shopping.

Things to see

In 1995 the UNESCO declared the city’s historic center a World Heritage Site. Due to its 27 centuries of history many gorgeous monuments are embellishing the area.

The central Piazza del Plebiscito is the most important square of the city. It was constructed during the Napoleon’s period; the plaza unique atmosphere is created by the presence of the stunning Royal Palace, the Church of San Francesco da Paola and the beautiful Teatro di San Carlo, the oldest Italian opera house still in function.

Very famous are also the city’s castles: the Maschio Angioino, also known as Castel Nuovo, was constructed under Charles I the first king of Naples, it is probably one of the most famous building of Naples. It is called Castel Nuovo (the New Castle) because it replaced the Castel Dell’Ovo (Egg castle) built by the Norman.

The city is also well-known for its many museums: the Naples National Archeological Museum hosts one of the biggest Roman’s collections in the world. The Museo Capodimonte is worth a visit too; once a royal palace today the museum can count on a stunning painting’s collection with works of artists like Titian and Caravaggio. Part of the building is still furnished with original 18th century furniture and porcelain.