The Pontifical Basilica of Saint Anthony of Padua, locally as 'il Santo' it is one of the eight international shrines recognized by the Holy See. Construction of the Basilica probably began around 1232, just one year after the death of St. Anthony. It was completed in 1310 although several structural modifications (including the falling of the ambulatory and the construction of a new choir screen) took place between the end of the 14th and the mid 15th century.
The Saint, according to his will, had been buried in the small church of Santa Maria Mater Domini, probably dating from the late 12th century and near which a convent was founded by him in 1229. This church was incorporated into the present basilica as the Cappella della Madonna Mora (Chapel of the Dark Madonna).
Sant'Antonio is a giant edifice without a precise architectural style. Over the centuries, it has grown under a variety of different influences as shown by the exterior details.
The new basilica was begun as a single-naved church, like that of St Francis of Assisi, with an apsidal chancel, broad transepts and two square nave bays roofed with hemispherical domes like that of San Marco, Venice. The exterior style is a mixing of mainly Romanesque and Byzantine elements, with some Gothic features.
Later in the 13th century, the aisles were added in a more Gothic style, the length of each nave bay being divided into two aisle bays with pointed arches and quadripartite vaults.
The eastern apse was also extended in the Gothic style, receiving a ribbed vault and nine radiating chapels in the French manner. Later also, the Treasury chapel was built in 1691 in the Baroque style by Filippo Parodi, a pupil of Bernini.
Externally, the brick facade has a Romanesque central section which was extended outwards when the aisles were built, acquiring in the process four deep Gothic recesses and an elegant arcaded balcony which stretches across the broad front of the building. The facade gable shows little differentiation between the nave and aisle, screening the very large buttresses that have the same profile and form a richly sculptural feature when the building is viewed from the side.
The domes, like the domes of St. Mark's Basilica, were raised in height externally, giving a Byzantine appearance to the building, while the multitude of small belfries which accompany the domes recall Turkish minarets. Externally, at the main roof line each section of the building is marked by a low gable decorated with blind arcading in brick. These gables combine with the domes, the broad buttresses and the little towers to create a massive sculptural form, both diverse and unified in its conglomeration of features. As a work of architecture the building is particularly effective when viewed from the north west, an extra dimension being added to the facade by the huge plinth and dynamic equestrian monument of the Condottiero Gattamelata by Donatello.
The interior of the church contains numerous funerary monuments, some of noteworthy artistic value. The Chapel of the Holy Sacrament, in the right aisle, houses the tomb of the famous condottiero Gattamelata and of his son Giannantonio. The bronze tabernacle is made by Girolamo Campagna. This chapel, with its broad bands of polychrome and carved Gothic details, has had many stages of decoration, the final stage being the creation of an atmospheric mosaic in the tall rear niche representing the Holy Spirit with rays of golden light descending against a background of intensely blue sky. This highly theatrical work was created by Lodovico Pogliaghi between 1927–36.
Relics of St Anthony are to be found in the ornate baroque Treasury Chapel (begun in 1691). The body of the saint, which was in the Madonna Mora Chapel, has, from 1350, lain in a separate transept chapel, the Chapel of St Anthony, the interior decoration being attributed to Tullio Lombardo, who also provided the sixth and seventh reliefs depicting the miracles of St Anthony. The third relief Saint bringing back to life a man who had been murdered is a masterpiece by Girolamo Campagna. The late-16th century statues are by Tiziano Aspetti
The Basilica contains several important images of the Madonna. The Madonna Mora is a statue of the Madonna with the Christ Child by the French sculptor Rainaldino di Puy-l'Evéque, dating from 1396.
The Madonna del Pilastro is a mid-14th-century fresco by Stefano da Ferrara, located on the pier adjacent the left aisle.
Among other sculptural work is the magnificent Easter candelabrum in the apse, finished in 1515 by Andrea Briosco and considered his masterwork. The most famous and striking features of the high altar area are however the bronze Madonna with Child and six statues of Saints by Donatello, who also executed four reliefs with episodes of life of St. Anthony.
To the right hand side of the nave, opposite the tomb of the Saint is the large Chapel of St. James, commissioned by Bonifacio Lupi in the 1370s in the elegant Gothic style, with frescoed walls depicting the Stories of St. James and the Crucifixion by Altichiero da Zevio. Altichiero's Crucifixion is one of the most significant paintings of the late 14th century. There are several frescoes created by Girolamo Tessari.
The chin and tongue of St. Anthony are displayed in a gold reliquary at the Basilica.References:
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 Philip III of Spain on a visit never fulfilled to this part of his kingdom, instead it initially housed the Viceroy Fernando Ruiz de Castro, count of Lemos. By 1616, the facade had been completed, and by 1620, the interior was frescoed by Battistello Caracciolo, Giovanni Balducci, and Belisario Corenzio. The decoration of the Royal Chapel of Assumption was not completed until 1644 by Antonio Picchiatti.
In 1734, with the arrival of Charles III of Spain to Naples, the palace became the royal residence of the Bourbons. On the occasion of his marriage to Maria Amalia of Saxony in 1738, Francesco De Mura and Domenico Antonio Vaccaro helped remodel the interior. Further modernization took place under Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies. In 1768, on the occasion of his marriage to Maria Carolina of Austria, under the direction of Ferdinando Fuga, the great hall was rebuilt and the court theater added. During the second half of the 18th century, a 'new wing' was added, which in 1927 became the Vittorio Emanuele III National Library. By the 18th century, the royal residence was moved to Reggia of Caserta, as that inland town was more defensible from naval assault, as well as more distant from the often-rebellious populace of Naples.
During the Napoleonic occupation the palace was enriched by Joachim Murat and his wife, Caroline Bonaparte, with Neoclassic decorations and furnishings. However, a fire in 1837 damaged many rooms, and required restoration from 1838 to 1858 under the direction of Gaetano Genovese. Further additions of a Party Wing and a Belvedere were made in this period. At the corner of the palace with San Carlo Theatre, a new facade was created that obscured the viceroyal palace of Pedro de Toledo.
In 1922, it was decided to transfer here the contents of the National Library. The transfer of library collections was made by 1925.
The library suffered from bombing during World War II and the subsequent military occupation of the building caused serious damage. Today, the palace and adjacent grounds house the famous Teatro San Carlo, the smaller Teatrino di Corte (recently restored), the Biblioteca Nazionale Vittorio Emanuele III, a museum, and offices, including those of the regional tourist board.