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Arts and Culture in Naples

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From a distance, Naples can appear a little ragged around the edges - a hot, southern city with the hulking form of Mount Vesuvius in the background. But up close, it reveals grand, Renaissance palaces jostling for space alongside medieval castles, and extraordinary works of art hidden in the most ordinary of buildings.

 

Landmarks

 

Go for an amble through the heart of the city and you'll be rewarded with ornate architectural treasures and eye-catching landmarks a-plenty.

 

Palazzo Reale

 

Dominating one side of the Piazza del Plebiscito, and the square’s oldest building, this palace exudes Bourbon extravagance. It has a magnificent staircase, the kind you’ll want to sweep down dressed in regal finery, and a 30-room museum filled with the rich tapestries and ornate furnishings of the Baroque era.

 

Piazza del Plebiscito, 80132 Naples. Tel:+39 81 580 8111

 

Palazzo Reale website
Religious buildings

 

Deeply Catholic, Naples has a wealth of religious buildings, dating from the 5th century onwards. From the staid simplicity and archeological intrigue of these early buildings, to the magnificence of Renaissance-era churches, you’ll be treated to a glut of stunning frescoes, ornate sculptures, and eerie crypts.

 

Duomo

 

From the street, Naples Cathedral seems to lack the splendor you might expect from a great Italian church. However, step inside and you’ll be blown away. From the 14th century sculpture to the lavish frescoes, it’s a work of art. It’s also home to the miraculous blood of a saint, which apparently liquefies twice a year.

 

Via Duomo, 80138 Naples. Tel:+39 81 557 4111

 

Duomo website

 

Museums and galleries

 

With so many historical treasures and classical works of art to protect, Naples has a superb selection of museums. Whether you want to explore the surprising secrets of Pompeii, or peruse experimental modern art, the city acts as an expert curator of the finest exhibits you could hope to discover.

 

National Archeological Museum

 

Boasting an exceptional collection of rare finds from the world’s great ancient civilizations, this is a museum with serious might. Its star piece is the Toro Farnese, the largest complete statue from antiquity, restored by the expert hand of Michelangelo. The Secret Cabinet attracts almost as much attention – it’s a collection of erotic art discovered at Pompeii.

 

Piazza Museo Nazionale, 80135 Naples. Tel:+39 81 442 2149

 

National Archeological Museum website

 

Madre

 

If you prefer your art to be modern, then Madre is the museum for you. Stylishly curated, these minimalist rooms hold a permanent collection of works by the likes of Anish Kapoor and Jeff Koons. A rotating schedule of special events and temporary, themed exhibitions makes it a constantly interesting place.

 

Via Settembrini, 80139 Naples. Tel:+1 39 81 193 13016

 

Madre website

 

Historic sites

 

When the entire center of a city is declared a UNESCO World Heritage site, you know it’s something special. Naples specializes in historic sites – and some of its most evocative are the fortress-like medieval castles, which still look imposing and ready to defend the city from marauding enemies.

 

Castel dell’Ovo

 

Anchored out in the bay on a tiny, rocky peninsula, Castel dell’Ovo is the oldest castle in the city – the original fortification was first built here in the days of the Ancient Greeks. It gets its name from a legendary egg Virgil supposedly placed there to protect the city. Perhaps you’ll be the one to find it.

 

Via Eldorado, 80132 Naples. Tel:+39 81 795 4593

 

Castel dell’Ovo website