Moving around the city
The city is divided into 21 zones, and it has so many monuments that it is rightfully known as an open air museum. Meanwhile, here is a little guide to allow you to choose
the most significant places of interest and tourist attractions, should you find yourself in this glorious city, but with time as your enemy.
San Ferdinando – Chiaia – Posillipo – The places, monuments and landscapes in this triangle are probably the ones which have made Naples famous, and they also offer one of the best itineraries for tourists whowould like to visit these areas. The tourist who lands in Naples finds themselves immediately immersed in the scenery of the Piazza Municipio which is itself dominated by the impressive mole of the Maschio Angioino or Castel Nuovo; the Teatro San Carlo, the splendid Galleria Umberto I and the spectacular Piazza del Plebiscito behind the façade of the majestic Palazzo Reale, the semicircular colonnade and the domes of the splendid Basilica di San Francesco di Paola are all close to one another and just waiting to be seen. Heading down towards the sea, you’ll come upon Santa Lucia and then Borgo Marinaro where the Castel dell’Ovo stands in all its glory.
Chiaia – is the area which faces the bay; you must visit this area and take a long walk along the promenade from Via Partenope past Via Caracciolo until Mergellina or stop by at Villa Comunale blessed with trees dating back centuries, neo classical statues, artistic fountains; it is here that you’ll find the oldest acquarium in Europe.
The most important monument in the zone is the Villa Pignatelli which today is home to one of Naples museums. Posillipo – offers up the chance to enjoy a splendid view of the bay and the incredible mount Vesuvius, the promontory of Sorrento and the island of Capri.
Looking eastwards, you will behold the Bay of Pozzuoli as well as the islands of Nisida, Ischia and Procida and the historical Campi Flegrei (Phlegrean Fields).
Il Centro Antico – Naples is characterised by its uniformity in town planning.
In fact, the quarters that makes up the ancient centre still faithfully adhere to the Greco-Roman plans for the city of Neapolis. In these quarters are layer upon layer of history which unfolds before the eyes of the unsuspecting visitor like an enormous history book. The alleyways overflowing with life in quarters such as San Lorenzo, San Giuseppe, Porto e Pendino are the same ones in which Greeks would trade and build temples during the 4th century.
It is practically impossible to list all the monuments that you will find in the three decumani and the numerous side streets (i cardi) which run perpendicular to them, but mention must be made of the following churches: San Paolo Maggiore built upon the foundations of the tempio dei Dioscuri, (two columns of the temple are still visible), there is San Lorenzo Maggiore, underneath which are important archaelogical remains which the public are able to visit.
These two churches are located in Piazza San Gaetano, the ancient Roman marketplace along Via dei Tribunali, the ancient decumanus maggiore.
The church and street of San Gregorio Armeno are also worth a visit, this church was also built on the site of a temple.
Via dei Tribunali ends in front of Castel Capuano, the oldest fort in the city built for Norman kings, behind it lies opening onto the Porta Capuana.
Walking along Via Duomo, you’ll come across the Cathedral dedicated to San Gennaro, the city’s patron, the cathedral seems to be in a place that doesn’t seem grand enough for such an important building, the Duomo which incorporates the ancient basilica of Santa Restituta built on the orders of Constantine, and the Battistero di San Giovanni in Fonte which is the oldest baptistery in the western world.
Beneath the Duomo lie ancient archaeological sites, which you can visit.
The stratification begins with the ancient Greek and finishes with the Middle Ages.
The Museo Civico Filangieri is also located in Via Duomo and is housed inside the Palazzo Como which was built during the Renaissance.
Piazzetta Nilo is situated on Via San Biagio dei Librai, and in which you’ll find a 2000 years old statue, Statua del Corpo di Napoli.
Following the axis of Spaccanapoli you will find other examples of Neapolitan culture: in Piazza San Domenico Maggiore you will find the basilica of the same name and numerous palazzi from the Aragon and Spanish era with the Guglia which was dedicated to the Saint at the centre. The Cappella di San Severo is also worth a visit.
Piazza del Gesù Nuovo yields such treasures as the Chiesa di Santa Chiara, the Chiostro delle Clarisse, the 16th century façade of the Gesù Nuovo and the Guglia dell’Immacolata.
The San Giovanni Maggiore, was built on the remains chapel of San Giovanni di Pappacoda contains a stupendous Gothic doorway.
The primary university faculties and museums are housed in these historic piazzas. Il Centro Storico – The quarters of the Centro Storico are natural extensions of the Centro Antico, which represent the Medieval and Renaissance developments reaching to the Spanish viceroys and the Neapolitan Bourbons.
The Spanish quarters; the elegant Via Toledo with its historic palazzi and churches that contain the masterpieces of 17th century Neapolitan painters; Piazza Monteoliveto which contains Palazzo Gravina, the Fontana built in honour of Carlos II of Spain and the church Sant’Anna dei Lombardi with a wealth of Renaissance treasures, Piazza Dante with the 18th century façade of the National Boarding School il Convitto Nazionale and Port’Alba, where the lazzari di Masaniello got the better of the cannons of the Viceroy.
The Museo Archeologico Nazionale is one of the most important museums of its kind and is located in Piazza.
The Porta San Gennaro is located in Piazza Cavour and its one of the oldest gateways in the city. Via S. Maria di Costantinopoli has many palazzi such as the Accademia di Belle Arti and many dazzling churches.
In Piazza Bellini one can still see traces of ancient Greek city walls; Piazza della Sanità holds the 17th century Chiesa di Santa Maria under which are the San Gaudosio Catacombs; the zona dei Vergini e zona delle Fontanelle, are ancient areas used for burial in Greco-Roman Naples, other places of interest in the immediate vicinity are: Via Foria; Piazza Carlo III which has an enormous façade (375 m. long) the Albergo dei Poveri and the Orto Botanico; Corso Garibaldi and the piazza of the same name, which is now the headquarters of Central Station; Corso Umberto with the Neo-classical style University of Federico II; Piazza Bovio with the Palazzo della Borsaand the famous Fontana del Nettuno; Piazza Mercato, the back drop to dramatic in Neapolitan history adjacent to this piazza is Piazzadel Carmine; all of these places are representative but not unique to the zones which developed and grew into the centro antico.
The Quartieri Collinari – These are hill zones which were developed at the end of the 19th century as a residential district for the Neapolitan bourgeoisie il Vomero underwent radical changes in the ’50s and ’70s which has made it into one of the busiest and most chaotic areas in the city.
It is linked to surrounding areas by three funicolar railways, but it still retains among some of the city’s most important monuments.
Castel Sant’Elmo and the Certosa di San Martino, were built around 1350, and dominate the city from above. Today, La Certosa houses the National Museum of San Martino, which shows collections, paintings scupltures, documents and relics of Neapolitan tradition, amongst other things.
Villa Floridiana was given by King Ferdinando of Bourbon to his second wife; it consists of a park, at the centre of which stands a small palace which is now a museum (the Museo della Ceramica Duca di Martina). The attentive tourist can’t let a visit to the catacombs of San Gennaro escape him. The catacombs were dug from the yellow tuff of the Aminei hills in the Capodimonte at the beginning of the second century.
The galleries, which create a kind of underground basilica leave a lasting impression on the unsuspecting traveller.
The sepulchre of San Gennaro and the tombs of the bishops, amongst whom lies the bishop of Carthage. Inside the Palazzo Reale di Capodimonte (a palace built in 1738 and surrounded by a large park and a wood which acted as a hunting ground), is the with its collections and the National Gallery with its extensive art gallery.
The Zona Flegrea Fuorigrotta – is part of this area, it is a modern residential zone where the Rai has its headquarters, as does the Politecnico; it is the new headquarters of the Universitaria, and important sports complexes such as Stadio San Paolo and the Mostra d’Oltremare headquarters of many important tradefairs, of the Zoo, Edenlandia a large theme park; Bagnoli is an ex industrial zone and is now home to the Città della Scienza, of the old shed steelworks on banks facing the island of Nisida; Agnano was the seat of ancient and the famous Ippodromo (racecourse) with a nearby nature reserve, where several protected species, are cared for by the W.W.F. Numerous Roman remains can be found all around this area.
The peripheral zones do not offer much of interest to the tourist: these zones are mainly industrial or ex-agricultural zones which have been destroyed over the years by cement whichhas been dumped here as the city tries to find space in which to expand.