The city of Naples is nearly 3,000 years old. It was founded by the ancient Greeks and served as the capital of the Kingdom of Naples from the late 1200s until the early 1800s. You can find architecture here from the Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque periods, as well as more than 400 churches and multiple noteworthy castles. Museums here have collections that include artifacts from Pompeii and the Roman Empire, as well as crystals and rocks collected from in and around Mount Vesuvius.
Tourism is one of the city's primary industries, and as with any area that attracts a lot of tourists, Naples has its share of petty criminals. Most travel agents warn against walking alone at night in the Stazione Centrale area, and it's good common-sense advice to avoid dark side streets in the evenings, too.
Foods such as pizza and tomato sauce are not the only things the city of Naples has contributed to worldwide culture over the years. Naples is also the birthplace of several string instruments including the mandolin (a type of lute) and the six-string romantic guitar (a precursor to the modern classical guitar).
In a city dominated by hundreds of churches, the Naples Cathedral ranks first in order of importance. Dedicated to San Gennaro, the saint who is the patron of Naples itself, Naples Cathedral was built in the 1300s. It sits on land that previously housed two other basilicas and that, when excavated today, reveals Greek and Roman artifacts.
The original fa çade was almost entirely destroyed in a 1349 earthquake, and the fa çade that stands about 165 feet tall today was constructed in the late 1800s. Inside, the area that draws most visitors is the Chapel of the Treasure of St. Gennaro, whose walls and dome are decorated with frescoes. You can get inside to see it seven days a week, though Monday through Saturday the cathedral closes between 12:30
Museo Archeologico Nazionale
If you plan to visit the Naples Cathedral on the first Saturday in May, on September 19, or on December 16, be sure to ask what happens when the blood of San Gennaro is brought out to liquefy. Legend states that if the blood fails to liquefy, then the city of Naples will fall victim to some kind of tragedy.
The Naples National Archaeological Museum is considered the most important archaeological museum in all of Europe, boasting a large collection of Greek and Roman antiquities, including some found during excavations of Pompeii and Herculaneum.
You can also see the Farnese Collection here. It features marble sculptures and gemstones found in Rome, including the Farnese Bull, which is believed to be the largest existing sculpture from ancient times. Bronzes and mosaics are also on display, along with the third-largest collection of Egyptian artifacts in Italy. There is also a 200,000-piece collection of coins and metals, some from ancient Greece and imperial Roman times.
The museum is open daily from 9
What is the Secret Museum?
A section of the Naples National Archaeological Museum that houses sexually explicit objects unearthed at Pompeii has been dubbed the Secret Museum. The objects range from frescoes to inscriptions to phallic oil lamps. The room, because of its erotic contents, has been opened and closed “for the public good” multiple times during the past century.
The “New Castle” is the main symbol of architecture in Naples. Its original three-year construction began in 1279 at the order of Charles I of Anjou after the Kingdom of Naples moved its capital to the city from Palermo. Later kings enlarged and embellished the castle, including ordering modifications to withstand attacks by new weapons that evolved during the passage of centuries.
The castle contains a civic museum filled with frescoes and sculptures from the 1300 and 1400s. Admission is 5, and the castle is open Monday through Saturday from 9