Naples – the marine city of art and architecture


Santa Lucia

Naples is the largest city in the south of Italy. It has history of 2,800 years with a wealth of historical buildings and monuments of Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque styles. Its historic centre was listed as world heritage site in 1995. I was familiar with this city because Diego Maradona had played in the club of S.S.C Napoli and brought great glory to this city. I was excited to visit here on 19th July 2020 by the express train from La Spezia.


Gulf Naples

When I arrived, I strolled along the seaside of the gulf Naples with a sense of novelty. The harbour of Naples is very close to the train station Napoli P. Garibaldi so I just took 10 minutes to walk from the station to here. Naples is one of the most important ports in Meditteranean that harbours many sailing boats and large ships.

当我到达后,怀揣着新鲜感沿着那不勒斯海湾边漫步。那不勒斯的港口非常靠近加里波第火车站(Napoli P. Garibaldi),所以我只花了10分钟就从火车站步行到这里。那不勒斯是地中海中最重要的港口之一,停泊着许多帆船和大型船只。

Castel Nuovo

There are some castles built near the sea side so I could see them faraway when I walked along the sea. This is a medieval castle located in front of the city hall. Its name in English is New Castle. It was built in 1279 and was a royal seat for kings of Naples, Aragon and Spain until 1815. It was defended by five large cylindrical towers.


I extremely like its spectacular arch. The white marble triumphal arch, built in 1470, commemorated Alfonso of Aragon’s entry to Naples in 1443. The kingdom of Naples was annexed to the Kingdom of Spain by Ferdinand II of Aragon so the city was under the control of Spanish in 15 century. The arch has two levels with totally 35 meters tall. The first level sculptures depict a triumphal quadriga of Alfonso’s parade. The second level has four niches with statues depicting the virtues of Alfonso. 


Galleria Umberto I

The architecture of Naples combines the elements of modern and classic. The Galleria Umberto I was one example of employing modern elements. This Galleria built between 1887–1891 was named for Umberto I, the King of Italy at that time. It was a shoping gallery designed by Emanuele Rocco. Its entrance is flanked by the Corinthian columns.
那不勒斯的建筑融合了现代与古典的元素。翁贝托一世画廊是运用现代元素的典范。这座建于1887年至1891年之间的圆顶画廊以当时的意大利国王翁贝托一世命名。这是一个由Emanuele Rocco设计的购物长廊。它的入口两侧是科林斯式柱廊。

The inside of the gallery is similar to the gallery of Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan. It is a high and spacious cross-shaped structure. The top is a glass dome supported by 16 metal ribs. Its shiny mosaic floor could even reflect the profile of the dome. It was a early morning so the shops in the gallery had not yet been opened.


Opposite the gallery, it was the famous San Carlo theater. When I arrived, the whole building was under reparation so I could not know how this Neoclassical building  actually looked like. The theatre was opened in 1737 with the exquisite decoration inside. It was one of the most luxurious theatres in the world with around 3000 seats.


Piazza del Plebiscito

Piazza del Plebiscito is a large public square beside the Teatro di San Carlo. The squre is named after the 1860’s plebiscite that brought Naples into the unified Kingdom of Italy. It was surrounded by the the Royal Palace, the Prefecture Palace and the church of San Francesco di Paola. The statue in the square is the Charles VII of Naples who ruled Naples as Charles of Bourbon (1734–1759) and Sicily. 


San Francesco di Paola

The San Francesco di Paola church in the square is a neoclassical building with a special design of three cupola which is different with other churchs. Its façade is fronted by a portico of six columns and two Ionic pillars. This portico was designed by Leopoldo Laperuta and looked like the Pantheon in Rome.

广场上的圣弗朗西斯科保拉教堂是一栋新古典主义建筑,带有三个圆顶。这种的特殊设计与其他教堂不同。它的正面是有六列立柱和两个爱奥尼亚式圆柱的门廊。这个门廊是由Leopoldo Laperuta设计的,看起来神似罗马的万神殿。

Palazzo Reale di Napoli

Opposite the San Francesco di Paola church, it is the Royal Palace of Naples. When Charles III of Spain arrived Naples, the palace became the royal residence of the Bourbons. Under the rule of Bourbon Kings, it was decorated lavishly during the period of Kingdom of Naples (1735–1816) and the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies (1816-1861). Its façade facing the Piazza del Plebiscito displays a series of statues of prominent rulers of Naples in chronological order. The famous rulers include Frederick II of Holy Roman Emperor, Charles III of Spain, Murat, and Vittorio Emanuele II.


This is the entrance hall of the palace with the marble staircase leading to the rooms at the second floor. The whole palace is a square and there is a open courtyard in the middle. All the rooms are interconnected and could be visited by following the sequence. I will just introduce several rooms here.


Flemish hall

In the Flemish hall, the ceiling is decorated with the coats of arm from Neapolitan provinces. The hall exhibits a collection of Dutch portraits from the 17th century. Like the palace of Verseille, the room is also equipped with crystal chandeliers and long red window curtains.


Joachim Murat’s Office

This is the office of Joachim Murat’s office. Murat was a Marshal of the Empire during the reign of Napoleon. He was also the king of Naples from 1808 to 1815. The ceiling of the room could be dated to 1840, decorated with tempera on plaster. This hall hosts some remarkable pieces of Murat period furniture, including a desk, commode, and bonheur du jour (a type of writing desk). These furnitures are crafted by Adam Weisweiler and given to Carolina Bonaparte, i.e Murat’s wife. There are two porcelain vases decorated with fleur-de-lis and delicate paintings in the room.

这是缪拉的办公室。在拿破仑统治期间,缪拉是帝国元帅之一,在1808年到1815年之间,他同时担当那不勒斯的国王。房间的天花板装饰可以追溯到1840年,用石膏蛋彩画装饰。这个大厅里摆放着那个时期的家具,包括桌子,衣柜和写字台。这些家具由亚当·韦斯韦勒(Adam Weisweiler)手工制作,并赠送给了缪拉的妻子卡罗琳波拿巴。房间里还有两个装饰着鸢尾花和精致绘画的瓷花瓶。

The queen’s room

This is the queen’s room. Its ceiling features rare Rococo white and gilt stucco decorations made during the reign of Charles of Bourbon. The furniture was manufactured in Naples in 1840. The room is decorated with Neapolitan School paintings of 17th and 18th century.


The royal chapel

The royal chapel was built by Francesco Antonio Picchiatti. It was used for the Palace’s religious ceremony. The altar in semi-precious stone and gilt copper is the work of Neopolitan baroque artiste Dioniso Lazzari in 1674. In the european palaces, chapel is a very important building because the power and rights of kings are endowed by the pope.

这座皇家教堂由弗朗切斯科·安东尼奥·皮基亚蒂(Francesco Antonio Picchiatti)建造。它被用于宫殿的各种宗教仪式。用半石和镀金铜制成的祭坛是那不勒斯巴洛克艺术家狄奥尼索·拉扎里(Dioniso Lazzari)1674年的作品。在欧洲的宫殿中,教堂是非常重要的建筑元素,因为教皇赋予了国王一切权利。

I spent around 1 hour in the royal palace. There is a Garden called Molosiglio behind the palace with the bronze statue of Augusto. From here I could survey the beautiful landscape of the gulf of Naples.


It was a sunny day. I was luxuriating in sunshine along the coastline. The sea lapping against the rocks shimmered in the sunlight and left ripples on the beach. The soaring mountain on the opposite side of the coast is the famous Mount Vesuvius and it seemed to wave to me endlessly.


Castel dell’Ovo

I walked fast along the coastline until this huge castle appeared in my eyes. The Egg Castle is a seaside castle in the Gulf of Naples. The castle’s name comes from an ancient legend. The Roman poet Virgil put a magical egg into the foundations to support the fortifications. If this egg is broken, the castle would have been destroyed and a series of diaster would have followed. It is the oldest castle in Naples equipped by many cannons on the top.


There is only one road connecting the castle. I took this picture on this road. The castle is located at the island of Megaride. The castle faces Mergellina across the sea which is another harbour of the city.


Palazzo San Giacomo

Afterwards, I left the seaside and started my journey in the center area of the city. The Palazzo San Giacomo, known as the city hall, is located at the Piazza del Municipio. It is a Neoclassical style palace, completed in 1825. There is a beautiful fountain in front of its entrance. The fountain of Neptune was built in 17th century with collaboration of Michelangelo Naccherino and Pietro Bernini. It was originally located at the arsenal in the port and deplaced to the current location in 2015.


Piazza dei Martiri 

Another square that I want to highlight is the Martyrs’ Square. There is a monument in the center of the square. It is one single huge column built in the period of Bourbon rule with a bronze statue atop, depicting the Virtue of the Martyrs. The four lions at the corners of the base represent the patriots who died during the anti-Bourbon revolutions. The lion dying represents the martyr defending the short lived Parthenopean Republic in 1799. The lion pierced by a sword represents the martyrs during Carbonari revolution of 1820. The lion with 1848 statutes under paw represents the martyrs during the revolution of 1848. The lion striding on foot represents the successful Garibaldini Revolt of 1860. In 1861, Italy was finally united so this monument was to memorize the efforts and blood of martyrs during the revolutions.


Castel Capuano

In the afternoon, I visited the historical center from the Via dei Tribunal. It was a long but very norrow east-west street. Most of the churches in Naples were built in the area. The east end of the street was the Castel Capuano. It was built in the 12th century by William I, the son of Roger II of Sicily, the first monarch of the Kingdom of Naples. It was expanded by Frederick II of Hohenstaufen and became one of his royal palaces. From the 16th century, it became the hall of justice.

下午,我从Tribunali大街(Via dei Tribunali)参观了那不勒斯的老城区,那是一条漫长却非常狭窄的东西走向街道。那不勒斯的大多数教堂都建在该地区。街道的东端是卡斯帕诺城堡(Castel Capuano)。它由那不勒斯王国的第一任君主西西里岛的罗杰二世的儿子威廉一世在12世纪建造。并由霍亨斯陶芬王朝的腓特烈二世(Frederick II)扩建,成为他的皇宫之一。从16世纪开始,它后来成为了司法宫。

Obelisco di San Gennaro

The unique view points in Naples are the spires or obelisks i.e the monumental columns. The Spire of San Gennaro completed in 1650 was designed by Cosimo Fanzago, perhaps the greatest architect of the Neapolitan Baroque. The spire was built to celebrate the deliverance of the city from the great earthquake of 1631. It was located at the Via dei Tribunali.

那不勒斯的独特景点是众多尖顶塔或方尖纪念碑。 这座San Gennaro尖塔于1650年完工,由那不勒斯最伟大的巴洛克风格建筑师Cosimo Fanzago设计。这座塔是为了纪念1631年大地震后这座城市获得救赎而建的。它位于Tribunali大街上。

Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta

The Spire of San Gennaro was behind the Cathedral of the Assumption of Mary. This Roman Catholic cathedral is the main church of Naples and the seat of the Archbishop of Naples. It is also named San Gennaro, in honour of Saint Januarius, the city’s patron saint. The construction of the church started from the King Charles I of Anjou, in the 13 century.

San Gennaro尖塔就位于圣母升天大教堂的后面。这座罗马天主教大教堂是那不勒斯的主教堂,也是那不勒斯大主教的所在地。它也命名为San Gennaro,以纪念该市的守护神Saint Januarius。教堂的建造始于13世纪的安茹国王查理一世。

The church has the magificant frescos drawn by Domenichino and Giovanni Lanfranco. Its dome with gorgeous colors and decorations is splendid. The church houses a vial of the blood of Saint Januarius, which is brought out three times a year. A ceremony of liquefying the blood would be hold. If the blood fails to liquefy, then it is said that disaster will befall Naples.

教堂装饰有多梅尼奇诺(Domenichino)和乔瓦尼·兰弗兰科(Giovanni Lanfranco)绘制的宏伟壁画。它的圆顶色彩绚丽,装饰精美。教堂里有一小瓶保护神Saint Januarius的血,每年要取出三次,举行血液升华的仪式。如果血液不能成功液化,那么据说那不勒斯将遭受灾难。

Basilica di San Paolo Maggiore

There are more than 100 churches in Naples so visitors will only visit few of them based on personal interests. This church San Paolo Maggiore is a basilica church, also the burial place of Gaetano Thiene, the founder of the Order of Clerics Regular (or Theatines). This baroque style church has two Corinthian columns and could be accessible by a staircase. This kind of design makes it different with other churches.

那不勒斯有100多座教堂,因此游客可根据个人兴趣参观其中的几座。这是圣保罗马焦雷教堂,也是末位神职界修会的创始人加埃塔诺·蒂耶内(Gaetano Thiene)的墓地。这座巴洛克风格的教堂有两个科林斯式圆柱,并且需要通过楼梯进入。这是它与其他教堂略有不同的地方。

Obelisco di San Domenico

This area is full of historical buildings and monuments. This is another spire called Spire of San Domenico located in the square of San Domenico Maggiore. The spire was built after the plague of 1656 and was again designed by Fanzago. It was completed in 1737.


Gesù Nuovo

In the western side of the historic center, the church Gesù Nuovo could be found. It was originally a palace built in 1470 for Roberto Sanseverino, the Prince of Salerno and was sold in the 1580s for 45,000 ducats to construct a church from 1584 to 1601. That is why it has an unsual façade of the palace with rustic ashlar diamond projections.

在老城区的西侧,可以看到这座新耶稣教堂。它最初是在1470年为萨莲诺王子罗伯托·桑塞韦里诺(Roberto Sanseverino)建造的宫殿,并在1580年以45,000 杜卡特的价格出售,以建造这座教堂。这就是为什么它有着只有宫殿才会有的质朴的琢石凸起墙面。

The vault frescos representing Jesus befalling were completed by Belisario Corenzio and Paolo de Matteis. On the four pillars supporting the dome are frescos of the four Evangelists. There are three bronze bas-reliefs on a black marble base. Above the altar, there are eight busts of saints who glorified the Eucharist. 

代表耶稣降临的穹顶壁画由Belisario Corenzio和Paolo de Matteis完成。支撑圆顶的四个大柱上有四位福音传教士的壁画。黑色大理石底座上有三个青铜浅浮雕。在祭坛上方,有八位圣人半身像成列以赞美圣体圣事。

Obelisco dell’Immacolata

Outside the church, there is another spire called spire of the Immaculate Virgin. It was built to invoke the Virgin Mary’s protection from the plague. Its construction began in the 17th century and was completed in 1750, also a prototype of Neapolitan Baroque art. 

在这座教堂外,还有另一个称为Immaculate Virgin的尖顶。它是为了纪念圣母玛利亚保护那不勒斯免受瘟疫的侵袭而设立。它始建于17世纪,直到1750年才完成,也是那不勒斯巴洛克艺术的代表作品。

Besides art and architecture, Naples is also one paradise of delicious food. It is the origin of the pizza but here I will introduce one untraditional pizza. It is called pizza fritta sold in the store called Sorbillo. Unlike classic pizza cooked by a wood burning stove, it is just made by a frying pan but the dough is same as the classic pizza. It is filled with cicoli, Neapolitan salami with ricotta or mozzarella and ham. It is nice and cheap, costs only 3.5 euros. The taste is similar with one type of Chinese fried cake.


Toledo metro station

No matter how good the place is, there will be the final moment to say goodbye. The last memorable place in Naples is the Toledo metro station when I prepared for the departure. This station called Toledo, the same name of one Spanish city, has the perfect illumination effect that makes it look like a starry sky. The color of the sky will change periodically from blue to purple to green. The escalator seems to be like the steps leading the people to the heaven. I have never seen such an artistic metro station like this. It will forever leave a deep impression in my heart.



3 thoughts on “Naples – the marine city of art and architecture

  1. Here is a city that I really want to discover once this pandemic is over 🙂 it was really interesting to read about your experience there! Happy new year and greetings from Lisbon, PedroL


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