Naples, a city which is sandwiched between the Campi Flegrei and a sleeping volcano, is a city of extremes. Ranked among the oldest cities in the world, the history of Naples dates back to almost 2800 years. The city was initially founded as a Greek colony during the 8th century and experienced transfer of power from one civilization to the other throughout its turbulent history. As a result, one can find a beautiful blend of cultures, historical heritage, arts, architectural wonders and magnificent cuisines in Naples. No tour of the city can ever be complete without experiencing its splendid architecture or visiting the age old churches, buildings and piazzas.
The ideal place to begin your Naples city tours is at the Piazza del Plebiscito. This grand piazza is the main city square and consists of a series of colonnades which connect the San Francesco di Paola to the Royal palace. The palace itself boasts of a mammoth structure and holds beautifully carved statues of the eight kings of Naples. The Throne Room, Court Theatre, and Oratory consist of exquisite paintings, porcelains and extremely lavish tapestries. The San Francesco di Paola is located to the west of the Palace and is known for the façade which consists of two Ionic pillars and six Pantheon inspired columns. However, the coup de grace for the San Francesco di Paola is its beautifully designed altar which has been decorated with precious stones and lapis-lazuli.
The San Carlo Theatre, known to be the largest theatre in Italy and one of the finest theatres in the world, is located close to the San Francesco di Paola. The theatre along with its massive stage, red and gold interiors and luxurious furnishings are definitely worth your time.
Next up is the Maschio Angioino, popularly known as the Castel Nuovo. The construction of this mesmerizing piece of architecture began way back in the year 1279. However, its rise to fame came with the Triumphal Arch which was built in the year 1454. The arch is also considered to be one of the best pieces of southern Renaissance architecture of the period.
An island located close to the Santa Lucia harbor is also home to another popular monument of Naples – the Castel dell’Ovo, also known as the Egg Castle. It was constructed in the year 1115 as a Norman stronghold. Today, it is home to a magnificent museum consisting of about 4000 artifacts which offer great insights into yesterday’s world. Some of the exhibits at the museum are also known to date back to the year 70000BC.
Talking about museums, the National Archaeological Museum is home to some of the greatest creations of mankind such as a magnificent collection of Greek sculptures, ancient Egyptian art and a huge mosaic depicting the Battle of Alexandria and Darius.
Remember, no trip to Naples can truly be complete without devoting some time for its breathtaking architectural wonders.