Naples

This is an excerpt from the book “Naples, Capri, Ischia and Pompeii‘.

Chiostri di Santa Chiara – Photo © Matthias Kabel
Chiostri di Santa Chiara – Photo © Matthias Kabel

Santa Chiara

This church, one of the most important mediaeval monuments in Naples, was built in 1310-28, probably by Gagliardo Primario, and was transformed in the 18th century by the addition of some lavish Baroque decoration by D.A. Vaccaro and then Giovanni Del Gaizo. After the bombings in 1943, it was rebuilt to restore its original 14th-century country garden by D.A. Vaccaro, who covered the garden wall, the seats and the trellised columns in bricks with painted majolica tiles depicting various brightly colored scenes.

The Archeological Museum
This is housed in a large pink building originally erected in 1585 as a barracks for the cavalry. It was subsequently transformed to become the headquarters of Naples University (1616-1777) and was then adapted to become a museum upon the wishes of Charles of Bourbon, who transferred the Farnese sculpture collection and finds from Pompeii and Herculaneum that he had inherited to this site.

The museum, which is one of the most important in the world, with its fine collections of sculpture, paintings, mosaics and various other objects, provides a wonderful picture of various aspects of Ancient Greek and Roman life.

Sculptures worthy of particular attention are a relief with Orpheus, Eurydice and Hermes, a replica from the Augustan era of an original from the Phidian school; the Doryphorus (lance- bearer), the best-existing Roman replica of the Greek masterpiece in bronze by Policletus (450 B.C.); the Farnese Bull, a colossal marble statue (the largest statue from ancient times ever found, about 13 feet high), and a copy of the 2nd or 3rd century work by Apollonius and Taurisco of Tralles reppresenting the Punishment of Dirce.

The museum also houses the collection of mosaics from Pompeii, the most valuable and complete collection of its kind. One particularly famous mosaic depicts the Battle of Issus between King Darius of Persia and Alexander the Great, which is unique on account of its historical and artistic value, as well as its size.

The collection of paintings includes frescoes from the walls of villas at Pompeii, Herculaneum and Stabiae dating from the 1st century B.C. to the 1st century A.D.. They include the magnificently realistic portraits of Pasquitus Proculus and his wife.

Of the jewels in the museum, the Farnese cup, of Alexandrian origin, is particularly beautiful. Made of sardonyx, it is one of the largest cameos ever found. There are also collections of small bronxes and vases.

Certosa di San Martino al Vomero – Photo © Barbini Enrico
Certosa di San Martino al Vomero – Photo © Barbini Enrico

The Certosa (or Charterhouse) stands on top of a spur jutting out from the Vomero hill, with magnificent panoramic views. It dates from the 14th century, but not much remains of the original building, since it was almost completely rebuilt between the end of the 16th century and the mid-17th century by the architects G.A. Dosio and C. Fanzago who, together with the numerous masters in charge of the decoration, created the most complete expression of 17th-century Baroque architecture.

Today, it’s the headquarters of the National San Martino Museum, which is subdivided into three large sections: historical, artistic and monumental

The church of the charterhouse is full of inlaid marble and paintings and constitutes a gallery of Naeapolitan 17th-century painting in its own right. The most important works include the Deposition by M. Stanzione (1638), the Twelve Prophets by Ribera (1643), the 17th-century wooden choir, the Washing of the Feet, a masterpiece by B. Caracciolo (1622), and The Triumph of Judith, a fresco by Luca Giordano (1704).

One of the museum rooms next to the church gives access to the famous terrace with an all-encompassing, magical view of the city and the Bay of Naples.

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Montesanto Produce Market – Photo © abitofbeesknees.blogspot.com
Montesanto Produce Market – Photo © abitofbeesknees.blogspot.com