The Historic Centre of Naples has its individual masterpieces, a classical town layout and is associated with many events and individuals of great importance in the early history of Christianity.
Naples was founded in 470 BC. It took its fair share of damage in the earthquake of 62 AD and the eruption of the Vesuvius in 79 AD, the one that covered nearby Pompei and Herculaneum. Unlike these towns, the city was quickly rebuilt and flourished for centuries. Mainly as an autonomous kingdom, with an important interlude in the 16th century under Spanish rule (Viceroy Toledo left Naples a majestic quarter).
Since the 1990s, Naples is experiencing a renaissance. The city has become safer and cleaner, and many building works are executed in the city center to restore it to its former glory.
Visit December 2004
The night before my trip to Naples I read the ICOMOS evaluation of this WHS, which states "It is difficult to identify a city or cities with which Naples might be compared. Its cultural roots so completely different from those of any other Italian city that comparison would be worthless. It is equally difficult to equate Naples with other major Mediterranean cities such as Barcelona or Marseilles."
There are so many historical city centers on the World Heritage List that this came across as an exaggeration. Walking around Naples by myself proved me wrong however. Naples is a unique European city, which in my opinion can only be compared to places like Jerusalem and Kathmandu because of the narrow dark streets and the overall highly religious atmosphere.
Probably the artistic highlight of Naples is the inner courtyard of the Santa Chiara monastery complex. Between 1739 and 1742, Domenico Antonio Vaccaro here created a garden with blue, yellow and green majolica benches and pillars. The surrounding walls are totally covered with frescoes.
In one day you can only get a glimpse of this fascinating city. Another part that I loved is the area around Via San Gregorio Armeno. This time of year the streets here are filled with the stalls of the Christmas market, selling all from tiny trinkets to huge pastoral scenes.
More photos can be found in the Picture Gallery
|john booth (New Zealand):|
My visit to Naples coincided with the rubbish collector's strike, so I was greeted by foul smelling mounds of rubbish littering the streets. This was particularly acute in the narrow streets and alleys of Spaccanapoli. Nevertheless I managed to visit the cathedral and several other of the listed churches in the area.
More to my taste though were the palazzos of Piazza Bellini which overlook some of the excavated Greek foundations of this city.
The views from the summit of Vomero Hill were excellent, but the scruffy Villa Florida was disappointing. St Elmo's castle was very solid and a place for admiring the views.
But my favourite places were the Palazzo di Capodimento, which I reached by bus R4. This palace, set in a park on a hilltop was quite serene. Another, the Palazzo Reale, facing the huge Piazza di Plebiscito was was open for an art exhibition. The Castel Nuovo and Castel del Ovo were in great locations beside the Bay of Naples.
| Date posted: September 2011|
|Assif Am-David (Israel):|
Unlike many other tourists in Italy I always wanted to visit Naples first and foremost. I knew it wasn't on the top of the list of popular tourist destination and I didn't know much about it, but after being exposed to so many artists and other humanists who used to work there in addition to the lovely local traditions like the Pizza or the Neapolitan Song I decided a trip must be worthwhile. I was amazed how much my guess was on the right track. Although partially bombarded during WWII the historical centre of Naples remained almost intact. It has tiny allies with market stands offering you Napolitan pizzas (very different from normal Pizzas by the way). The Duomo, Girolamini Monastery, Jesuite Church, Santa Chiara Convent and Capella Sansevero are my favourites, although you can find countless beautiful churches in the centre in great proximity to each other (featuring Donatello, de Ribera and Caravaggio just to name a few). Under some of the churches there are early underground passages from the Roman time which are open to visitors too. For detailed information regarding the historic centre of Naples consult www.museoapertonapoli.com
Don't miss Naples by any chance! You need at least 3-4 days to see it (without its great surroundings which require much longer). Four other WHS are easy to reach: Caserta, Amalfi Coast, Popmeii and related sites and Cilento and Valo di Diano including Paestum.
|Graeme Ramshaw (UK/US):|
Naples is crazy! The sheer volume of people and cars that occupy the space of the old centre seems completely unmanageable. Petty crime and, particularly at night around the train station, local transgressions have been rearing its hard every once and while. That all being said, Naples has a good deal to see, whether it be the Archaeological Musuem (unbelievable) with treasures 'borrowed' from Pompei and Herculaneum. Or the Spaccanapoli with its uniquely neopolitan atmosphere and a work ethic adopted a particular cheese on their own. I', not sure how easy it will be in dinner, but originality suffers tremementdously.
|Klaus Freisinger (Austria):|
Many people overlook Naples or just pass through it on their way to neighboring sites like Capri or Pompeii, but it is one of the oldest cities in Europe (Neapolis is Greek for New City), has many interesting sights (especially a great archaeological museum and a nice fortress), and is a worthy World Heritage city. The specific charm of the city is well-known, anyway. On the whole, better than I had expected.
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