Napoli is an old city, it has lived several foreign dominations, and this meeting point of different cultures makes it special. In the historical center, different architectonic styles, arts, and traditions intertwine in the little streets. Walking through those little streets would be enough to get to know the Neapolitan wonders, but here's a guide with the main attractions.
Spaccanapoli (lit. "Naples Splitter") is the Inferior Decumanus of the old Greek city Neapolis, which goes from Forcella to Quartieri Spagnoli. It's called this way because it literally splits Napoli into two parts. Among Spaccanapoli you can find the Neapolitan history, from the glory of Magna Graecia to the Borbonic domination, until the unification of the Italian Reign. Among the little streets, you can find old artisan shops, churches and palaces, legends imbued by the perfume of the traditional Neapolitan cuisine. The street is very chaotic, but there's nothing that will tell you the Neapolitan history better than this little street.
Piazza del Plebiscito and the Royal Palace
Piazza del Plebiscito is one of the symbols of Napoli. In the past, medieval tournaments took place, and many shows until the Italian Unification. The square hosts the famous church of San Francesco di Paola and the Royal Palace, which was built at the end of 1500 because of the arrival of King Philip III. The colonnade was inspired by the one in St. Peter's Square in Rome, and the church is considered as one of the best examples of Italian Neoclassicism.
San Gregorio Armeno
In Vico San Gregorio Armeno, Christmas is celebrated the whole year. In fact, the little street is famous for the tradition of crib art: artisans work the whole year in order to produce little statues in cork and earthenware. They are absolutely all handmade in the matter of shape and color. Each statue has its own meaning and its own soul, which are explained by the artisans.
For a long time, Napoli has had two lives which were parallel: one on the surface and one underground. Under the city, there is another one, which is made of alleys and tunnels that were excavated because of the extraction of tuff that served the superficial buildings. This parallel city served Neapolitans in many ways: as a refuge from bombs, a source of water, or hiding. You can access it from Via dei Tribunali, the parallel street to Spaccanapoli.
Duomo di Napoli and Treasure of San Gennaro
Duomo is the cathedral of Napoli, and it's the main place of worship of San Gennaro. In the church, there are tombs of important Neapolitan families, paintings by Luca Giordano and priceless artworks. The main attraction is the Chapel of San Gennaro, which contains the treasure. It collects objects and relics of the Saint, which have become oracles.
Castel Dell'Ovo is the oldest castle in Napoli: its construction started in the I century b.C. Its name comes from a legend believing that the Latin poet Virgilius hid a magic egg in its basements, which gave strength to the building. If the egg broke, it would be a great disaster not only for the castle but for the whole city. Luckily it is still whole, and it's one of the most noticeable elements on the landscape of the Gulf.
Chiostro di Santa Chiara
The Monastery of Santa Chiara is on Spaccanapoli, near Piazza del Gesù, and it's an oasis in the middle of the historical center. You can smell the perfume of lemons, the cloister is covered in majolicas in baroque style, whose decorations take the elements of the surrounding environment: lemons, trenches of the vine, and flowers. The backs of the benches are decorated with myths.
Castle Sant'Elmo & Charterhouse of San Martino
On the highest point of the hill of Vomero, there is a complex that contains Castle Sant'Elmo and the Charterhouse of San Martino. Inside them, there are museums of Neapolitan typography and naval sections. The reason why it's really worth going there is the view: from the hill, you can admire a breathtaking panorama on the Gulf of Napoli.
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