Historical Churches (Self Guided), Naples

Naples is a city with many religious, historical and architectural sights of great artistic value. The city has numerous magnificent churches. They are especially worth a visit because they have preserved their original structure from ancient times. This self-guided tour will lead you to churches, cathedrals and basilicas with beautiful paintings, architecture and history:
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Historical Churches Map

Guide Name: Historical Churches
Guide Location: Italy » Naples (See other walking tours in Naples)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 7
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.1 Km or 2.5 Miles
Author: vickyc
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Church Santa Maria Donna Regina Nuova
  • Duomo di Napoli
  • Pio Monte della Misericordia
  • Church of the Spirito Santo
  • Gesù Nuovo Church
  • San Pietro Martire Church
  • San Francesco di Paola
Church Santa Maria Donna Regina Nuova

1) Church Santa Maria Donna Regina Nuova

The Church Santa Maria Donna Regina Nuova is attached to a convent of nuns belonging to the Franciscan order. The adjective Nuova or new is used to distinguish it from an earlier church of the same name that is located next to the building.

The Church Santa Maria Donna Regina Nuova was designed by the architect, Giovanni Giacomo di Conforto, built between 1616 and 1627 and consecrated in 1669. It is the finest example of Neapolitan Baroque architectural design. The church and the nearby 14th century building were connected by a passage that extended between the apse of the old church and the tribune of the new one. The passage was demolished when the structures were restored between 1928 and 1934.

The Church Santa Maria Donna Regina Nuova has a simple exterior and an ornate interior. The façade has a simple austere neoclassical design. The wide staircase leading to the entrance is flanked on either side by the statues of St. Bartholomew and St. Andrew. The interior consists of a single nave with three chapels on either side. The nave is completely covered with marble with a floral design. The splendid ceiling fresco was painted by Francesco de Benedictis and the apse is surrounded by frescoes portraying the life of St. Francis by Francesco Solimena. The cupola of the church has a magnificent fresco by Agostino Beltrano.
Duomo di Napoli

2) Duomo di Napoli (must see)

Duomo di Napoli is the principal church of Naples and the seat of its Archbishop. It is dedicated to the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary although it is popularly believed to be dedicated to the Patron Saint of Naples, Saint Januarius.

The Duomo stands on the site of two earlier Paleochristian churches that date back to 570 AD and is built in the shape of a Latin cross. The roof is supported by 110 ancient granite columns and the interiors are richly decorated with gold leaf, mosaic and marble. The popular attraction within the church is the chapel of the Treasure of St. Januarius with frescoes and altarpieces by some of the best known religious artists of the time. The Duomo is also famous for the "miracle of the blood". It houses a vial of Saint Januarius' blood that is brought out for public viewing on the first Saturday of May and on the 19th of September annually. If the blood liquefies, it is said to be a sign of good fortune, but if the blood remains dry, it is believed that some disaster will occur in Naples that year.

Why You Should Visit:
To see three basilicas gathered in one; from the French-style gothic to the Spanish-style Baroque and the Paleochristian/Byzantine.
Amazing Italian marble works and pietra-dura mosaics everywhere, and the collection of silver statues and busts of saints is absolutely amazing.

The stairs beneath the altar take you to a crypt with the relics of St. Gennaro, the patron saint of Naples.
They have clean bathrooms inside, but be sure to bring your change to pay the small fee.

Opening Hours:
[Duomo] Mon-Sat: 8am-12:30pm / 4:30-7pm; Sun: 8am-1:30pm / 5-7:30pm
[Museum] Tue-Sat: 9:30am-5pm; Sun, Holidays: 9:30am-2pm
Pio Monte della Misericordia

3) Pio Monte della Misericordia

The Pio Monte della Misericordia is a small church located on the Via dei Tribunali in the historic center of Naples. It houses a small but significant art gallery that is open for public viewing.

The Pio Monte della Misericordia was founded by a group of seven Neapolitan nobles in 1602. It was called the charity brotherhood and was located in a small church near the stairs that led to the Cathedral of Naples. The brotherhood performed many charitable deeds like feeding the hungry, providing interest free loans for the poor, ransoming Christian slaves, visiting prisoners and burying the indigent dead. The church soon became too small for the charitable activities of the brotherhood and was demolished to make way for a new larger building designed by Antonio Picchiatti. It was constructed between 1658 and 1678. The brotherhood still exists and donates money to schools and hospitals, today.

The Pio Monte della Misericordia has many valuable works of art. The most famous work is Caravaggio's magnificent work called the Seven Acts of Mercy which is regarded as the single most important painting in Naples. It is found above the altar of the church. Besides this masterpiece, impressive works by Carlo Sellitto, Fabrizio Santafede, Luca Giordano and Battistello Caracciolo form part of the gallery.
Church of the Spirito Santo

4) Church of the Spirito Santo

Church of the Spirito Santo dates back to the sixteenth century. It was decorated with sculptures by Michelangelo Naccherino. There are paintings by such Italian artists as Francesco de Mura and Fedele Fischetti. The church is famous for its dome. It is the most elegant in the city.
Gesù Nuovo Church

5) Gesù Nuovo Church (must see)

The Gesu Nuovo Church is managed by the Society of Jesus today and was initially built as a lavish residence. The unique exterior with diamond shaped stones has symbols believed to be a music score engraved upon them.

The Gesu Nuovo Church was built as the home of Roberto Sanseverino, Prince of Salerno in 1470. It was purchased by the Jesuits for 45,000 ducats in 1580 and turned into a church. Conversion of the building began in 1584 under the directions of renowned Jesuit architect, Giuseppe Valeriano and was completed in 1601. Although dedicated to Jesus and Mary of the Immaculate Conception, it has always been called the Gesu Nuovo Church.

The Gesu Nuovo Church is not only known for its unique exterior but also for its lavish interiors. It has the shape of a Greek cross with 11 chapels. The columns and altars are all covered with marble. Treasures inside the church are the fresco depicting the Expulsion of Heliodorus from the Temple by Francesco Solimena behind the façade and the frescoes depicting the life of the Virgin by Massimo Stanzione. The high altar was designed by F. Giuseppe Grossi was created by Neapolitan artists and covered with rare marbles, bronze and precious stones. Another treasure is the bas relief reproduction of Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper by Gennaro Calì.
San Pietro Martire Church

6) San Pietro Martire Church

The San Pietro Martire Church is attached to a Dominican abbey and is located near the port in the downtown area of Naples. It was founded by the Angevin Dynasty to serve the poor people who lived in the neighborhood.

The San Pietro Martire Church was constructed in 1294 under the orders of Charles of Anjou. Initially it was a small building that could house about 13 monks. Later it was expanded and a belfry designed by F.A. Picchiati was added in 1650. The structure was completed only in the 1750s. When Napoleon’s brother in law, Joachim Murat ruled Naples, the abbey was closed and reopened again once the reign of the Bourbon dynasty was restored. It was finally closed during the unification of Italy in 1864. The church remains an important place of worship in the city.

The San Pietro Martire Church was badly damaged during World War II. In 1953, the grounds were converted into a tobacco processing factory. The building was completely restored in 1979. It now houses the faculty of Literature and Philosophy of the University of Naples. The church has become a university chapel and the old abbey houses university lecture halls.
San Francesco di Paola

7) San Francesco di Paola (must see)

The church of San Francesco di Paola is a neoclassical style building flanking the west side of the Piazza del Plebiscito, the largest square in Naples. It lies directly opposite the royal palace.

The church of San Francesco di Paola was commissioned by Joachim Murat, King of Naples as a monument to Napoleon Bonaparte, his brother in law. It was expanded by Ferdinand I and converted into a church when he recovered the throne of Naples after the defeat of Napoleon. The building was designed by Leopoldo Lapera and was completed by the architect, Pietro Bianchi in 1846. The church was dedicated to St. Francis of Paola who lived in an abbey on the site of the square in the 16th century.

The church of San Francesco di Paola has a 58 meter high dome resembling the pantheon of Rome. It is located above the altar and is supported by 34 thick columns that have a height of eleven meters each. The main portico is supported by a semicircular row of white Doric columns. There is another front portico with six Ionic columns supporting the roof. It is a basilica and an active place of worship today and a popular venue for weddings.

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