Top Historic Sights in Naples, Italy

Explore the historic highlights of Naples

National Archaeological Museum

The National Archaeological Museum of Naples is an important Italian archaeological museum, particularly for ancient Roman remains. Its collection includes works from Greek, Roman and Renaissance times, and especially Roman artifacts from nearby Pompeii, Stabiae and Herculaneum. The building was built as a cavalry barracks in 1585. From 1616 to 1777 it was the seat of the University of Naples. During the 19th ...
Founded: 1777 | Location: Naples, Italy

Teatro di San Carlo

The Real Teatro di San Carlo (Royal Theatre of Saint Charles) is located adjacent to the central Piazza del Plebiscito, and connected to the Royal Palace. It is the oldest continuously active venue for public opera in the world, opening in 1737, decades before both the Milan"s La Scala and Venice"s La Fenice theatres. The construction was ordered by Bourbon King Charles III of Naples. Given its size, ...
Founded: 1737 | Location: Naples, Italy

Royal Palace of Naples

Royal Palace of Naples was one of the four residences near Naples used by the Bourbon Kings during their rule of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies (1734-1860): the others were the palaces of Caserta, Capodimonte overlooking Naples, and the third Portici, on the slopes of Vesuvius. Construction on the present building was begun in the 17th century by the architect Domenico Fontana. Intended to house the King Phil ...
Founded: 17th century | Location: Naples, Italy

Castel Sant'Elmo

Castel Sant"Elmo is a medieval fortress located on a hilltop near the Certosa di San Martino, overlooking Naples. Documents date a structure at the site from 1275, from the era of Charles d"Anjou. Known originally as Belforte, it was likely a fortified residence, surrounded by walls, its entrance gate marked by two turrets. In 1329, using designs by the Sienese architect Tino da Camaino, king Robert of N ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Naples, Italy

San Gregorio Armeno

San Gregorio Armeno ('St. Gregory of Armenia') is a church and a monastery in Naples. It is one of the most important Baroque complexes in Naples. In the 8th century, the iconoclast decrees in Greece caused a number of religious orders to flee the Byzantine empire and seek refuge elsewhere. San Gregorio Armeno in Naples was built in the 10th century over the remains of a Roman temple dedicated to Ceres, ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: Naples, Italy

Macellum of Naples

The Macellum of Naples was the macellum or market building of the Roman city of Neapolis, now known as Naples. Due to the rise of the ground level the macellum is now located beneath the church of San Lorenzo Maggiore. The first construction dates to 5th or 4th century BC when the area was the location of the agora during the Greek period. When Neapolis became a Roman possession it was eventually transformed int ...
Founded: 400-500 BCE | Location: Naples, Italy

Sant'Agnello Maggiore Church

According to tradition, Agnello of Naples, now co-patron (compatrono) of the city of Naples, is buried in the Sant"Agnello Maggiore. Agnello was a 6th-century Neapolitan bishop, who defended the city against the besieging Lombards. Supposedly the church had been founded and devoted to the Virgin, by Agnello"s parents. Recent studies have shown that the church was built atop an Ancient Roman Acropolis from the ...
Founded: 9th century AD | Location: Naples, Italy

Naples Cathedral

The present Naples cathedral was commissioned by King Charles I of Anjou. Construction continued during the reign of his successor, Charles II (1285-1309) and was completed in the early 14th century under Robert of Anjou. It was built on the foundations of two palaeo-Christian basilicas, whose traces can still be clearly seen. Underneath the building excavations have revealed Greek and Roman artifacts. The Archbish ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Naples, Italy

Cappella Sansevero

The Cappella Sansevero contains works of art by some of the leading Italian artists of the 18th century. Its origin dates to 1590 when John Francesco di Sangro, Duke of Torremaggiore, after recovering from a serious illness, had a private chapel built in what were then the gardens of the nearby Sansevero family residence, the Palazzo Sansevero. The building was converted into a family burial chapel by Alessandro di Sa ...
Founded: 1590 | Location: Naples, Italy

Castel Nuovo

The building of the Castel Nuovo began in 1279 under the reign of Charles I of Anjou, on the basis of a plan by the French architect Pierre de Chaule. The strategic position of the new castle gave it the characteristics not only of a royal residence, but also those of a fortress. From the very beginning it was called Castrum Novum to distinguish it from the older castles dell"Ovo and Capuano. During the reign of R ...
Founded: 1279 | Location: Naples, Italy

San Francesco di Paola

San Francesco di Paola church is located at the west side of Piazza del Plebiscito, the city"s main square. In the early 19th century, King Joachim Murat of Naples (Napoleon"s brother-in-law) planned the entire square and the large building with the colonnades as a tribute to the emperor. When Napoleon was finally dispatched, the Bourbons were restored to the throne of Naples. Ferdinand I continued the cons ...
Founded: 1816 | Location: Naples, Italy

Santa Chiara

Santa Chiara is a religious complex that includes the Church of Santa Chiara, a monastery, tombs and an archeological museum.  Architecture The double monastic complex was built in 1313–1340 by Queen Sancha of Majorca and her husband King Robert of Naples, who is also buried in the complex. The original church was in traditional Provençal-Gothic style, but was decorated in the 17th century in Baroque style by ...
Founded: 1313-1340 | Location: Naples, Italy

San Domenico Maggiore

San Domenico Maggiore is a Gothic church and monastery, founded by the friars of the Dominican Order. The church incorporates a smaller, original church built on this site in the 10th century, San Michele Arcangelo a Morfisa. Charles II of Naples began the rebuilding that produced the gothic structure that comprises the present church. The work was done between 1283 and 1324, but the church has undergone modificat ...
Founded: 1283-1324 | Location: Naples, Italy

Castel dell'Ovo

Castel dell"Ovo (Egg Castle) is located on the former island of Megaride, now a peninsula, on the Gulf of Naples. The castle"s name comes from a legend about the Roman poet Virgil, who had a reputation in the Middle Ages as a great sorcerer and predictor of the future. In the legend, Virgil put a magical egg into the foundations to support the fortifications. Had this egg been broken, the castle wou ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Naples, Italy

Certosa di San Martino

The Certosa di San Martino is a former monastery complex and now a museum. Along with Castel Sant"Elmo that stands beside it, this is the most visible landmark of the city, perched atop the Vomero hill that commands the gulf. A Carthusian monastery, it was finished and inaugurated under the rule of Queen Joan I in 1368. It was dedicated to St. Martin of Tours. During the first half of the 16th century it wa ...
Founded: 1368 | Location: Naples, Italy

Museo di Capodimonte

Museo di Capodimonte is an art museum located in the Palace of Capodimonte, a grand Bourbon palazzo in Naples. The museum is the prime repository of Neapolitan painting and decorative art, with several important works from other Italian schools of painting, and some important ancient Roman sculptures. It is one of the largest museums in Italy. The vast collection at the museum traces its origins back to 1738 ...
Founded: 1738 | Location: Naples, Italy

San Giovanni Maggiore Basilica

A church at the site of current San Giovanni Maggiore Basilica was likely erected sometime in the 4th century. There are a number of founding legends for the church. One is that emperor Constantine Ifounded the church in gratitude for the rescue of his daughter Costanza from a shipwreck. It may have been built or introduced into a pre-existing pagan temple dedicated to the cult of Hercules or Hadrian. One of the stones ...
Founded: 1656 | Location: Naples, Italy

Santa Caterina a Formiello

Santa Caterina a Formiello is located at the extreme eastern end of the old historic center of the city, on Via Carbonara and Piazza Enrico de Nicola. Construction of the church began about 1510, designed by the Florentine Antonio della Cava, and completed in 1593. The church was one of the first domes in Naples, and was dedicated to the virgin and martyred Saint of Alexandria. It was attached to an ancient convent ori ...
Founded: 1510 | Location: Naples, Italy

Santi Apostoli Church

Santi Apostoli is a Baroque-style church in Naples. Legend holds that a church at the site was built atop a Temple of Mercury by Emperor Constantine. Restored by the Caracciolo Family, it was ceded in 1570 to the Theatine Order. By 1590, the adjacent cloister and monastery was designed by Francesco Grimaldi. In the early 17th century was reconstructed by Giacomo Conforti. In 1638, the work was continued by Bartol ...
Founded: 16th century | Location: Naples, Italy

Villa Floridiana

The Villa Floridiana dates from 1816 when Ferdinand I of the House of Bourbon, King of the Two Sicilies, acquired the property. Between 1817 and 1819 the architect Antonio Niccolini reconstructed the building and the surrounding gardens. The director of the Botanical Gardens, Friedrich Dehnhardt, planted oaks, pines, palms, cypresses and a large selection of flowers in the gardens. The King then donated the prope ...
Founded: 1816 | Location: Naples, Italy

Virgil's tomb

Virgil"s tomb is a Roman burial vault in Naples, said to be the tomb of the poet Virgil (70-19 BCE). It is located at the entrance to the old Roman tunnel known as the grotta vecchia or cripta napoletana in the Piedigrotta district of the city, between Mergellina and Fuorigrotta. It is a small structure, with a small dome of rocks located at the top of the park.
Founded: 19 BCE | Location: Naples, Italy

Catacombs of San Gennaro

The Catacombs of San Gennaro are underground paleo-Christian burial and worship sites in Naples, Italy, carved out of tuff, a porous stone. They are situated in the northern part of the city, on the slope leading up to Capodimonte, consisting of two levels, San Gennaro Superiore, and San Gennaro Inferiore. Originally, there were three separate cemeteries, dedicated, to Saint Gaudiosus (San Gaudioso), Saint Seve ...
Founded: 3rd-4th century AD | Location: Naples, Italy

Posillipo Archaeological Park

The archaeological park is one of the most beautiful places in the city and along the coast of Posillipo. Among the most important sites are the Seiano cave, the underwater park of Gaiola, the imperial villa of Pausilypon, the Odeon, the theatre and the Palace of the Spirits. The ruins of the Roman villa of Vedius Pollio, also known as the Imperial Villa, include a 2000-seat theatre on the rocky promontary at the end of ...
Founded: 1st century BCE | Location: Naples, Italy

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Veste Coburg

The Veste Coburg is one of Germany's largest castles. The hill on which the fortress stands was inhabited from the Neolithic to the early Middle Ages according to the results of excavations. The first documentary mention of Coburg occurs in 1056, in a gift by Richeza of Lotharingia. Richeza gave her properties to Anno II, Archbishop of Cologne, to allow the creation of Saalfeld Abbey in 1071. In 1075, a chapel dedicated to Saint Peter and Saint Paul is mentioned on the fortified Coberg. This document also refers to a Vogt named Gerhart, implying that the local possessions of the Saalfeld Benedictines were administered from the hill.

A document signed by Pope Honorius II in 1206 refers to a mons coburg, a hill settlement. In the 13th century, the hill overlooked the town of Trufalistat (Coburg's predecessor) and the important trade route from Nuremberg via Erfurt to Leipzig. A document dated from 1225 uses the term schloss (palace) for the first time. At the time, the town was controlled by the Dukes of Merania. They were followed in 1248 by the Counts of Henneberg who ruled Coburg until 1353, save for a period from 1292-1312, when the House of Ascania was in charge.

In 1353, Coburg fell to Friedrich, Markgraf von Meißen of the House of Wettin. His successor, Friedrich der Streitbare was awarded the status of Elector of Saxony in 1423. As a result of the Hussite Wars the fortifications of the Veste were expanded in 1430.

Early modern times through Thirty Years' War

In 1485, in the Partition of Leipzig, Veste Coburg fell to the Ernestine branch of the family. A year later, Elector Friedrich der Weise and Johann der Beständige took over the rule of Coburg. Johann used the Veste as a residence from 1499. In 1506/07, Lucas Cranach the Elder lived and worked in the Veste. From April to October 1530, during the Diet of Augsburg, Martin Luther sought protection at the Veste, as he was under an Imperial ban at the time. Whilst he stayed at the fortress, Luther continued with his work translating the Bible into German. In 1547, Johann Ernst moved the residence of the ducal family to a more convenient and fashionable location, Ehrenburg Palace in the town centre of Coburg. The Veste now only served as a fortification.

In the further splitting of the Ernestine line, Coburg became the seat of the Herzogtum von Sachsen-Coburg, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg. The first duke was Johann Casimir (1564-1633), who modernized the fortifications. In 1632, the fortress was unsuccessfully besieged by Imperial and Bavarian forces commanded by Albrecht von Wallenstein for seven days during the Thirty Years' War. Its defence was commanded by Georg Christoph von Taupadel. On 17 March 1635, after a renewed siege of five months' duration, the Veste was handed over to the Imperials under Guillaume de Lamboy.

17th through 19th centuries

From 1638-72, Coburg and the Veste were part of the Duchy of Saxe-Altenburg. In 1672, they passed to the Dukes of Saxe-Gotha and in 1735 it was joined to the Duchy of Saxe-Saalfeld. Following the introduction of Primogeniture by Duke Franz Josias (1697-1764), Coburg went by way of Ernst Friedrich (1724-1800) to Franz (1750-1806), noted art collector, and to Duke Ernst III (1784-1844), who remodeled the castle.

In 1826, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was created and Ernst now styled himself 'Ernst I'. Military use of the Veste had ceased by 1700 and outer fortifications had been demolished in 1803-38. From 1838-60, Ernst had the run-down fortress converted into a Gothic revival residence. In 1860, use of the Zeughaus as a prison (since 1782) was discontinued. Through a successful policy of political marriages, the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha established links with several of the major European dynasties, including that of the United Kingdom.

20th century

The dynasty ended with the reign of Herzog Carl Eduard (1884-1954), also known as Charles Edward, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a grandson of Queen Victoria, who until 1919 also was the 2nd Duke of Albany in the United Kingdom. Under his rule, many changes made to the Veste in the 19th century were reversed under architect Bodo Ebhardt, with the aim of restoring a more authentic medieval look. Along with the other ruling princes of Germany, Carl Eduard was deposed in the revolution of 1918-1919. After Carl Eduard abdicated in late 1918, the Veste came into possession of the state of Bavaria, but the former duke was allowed to live there until his death. The works of art collected by the family were gifted to the Coburger Landesstiftung, a foundation, which today runs the museum.

In 1945, the Veste was seriously damaged by artillery fire in the final days of World War II. After 1946, renovation works were undertaken by the new owner, the Bayerische Verwaltung der staatlichen Schlösser, Gärten und Seen.

Today

The Veste is open to the public and today houses museums, including a collection art objects and paintings that belonged to the ducal family of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a large collection of arms and armor, significant examples of early modern coaches and sleighs, and important collections of prints, drawings and coins.