Naples' Duomo dates from the 1200s, although to be perfectlky honest you have to look hard to see evidence of that nowadays. The facade dates from the 1800s and there interior dates from...well, almost any time in between those dates.
No photos are allowed on the interior, which is a great pity as the chapel of San Gennaro, Naples' patron saint whose blood miraculously liquefies three times a year, is a stunning example of ornate ebullience. If his blood does not liquefy then disaster will fall upon Naples...and, apparently, this has happened most recently in 1944 (Vesuvius' last eruption), 1980 (when there was an earthquake) and in 1988 (Naples lost an important football match...not quite in the same league as earthquakes and eruptions, perhaps!).
San Gennaro's chapel is but one of several within the church itself, and 'his' bones are on display in the rather lovely crypt.
For me, the highlight of my Duomo visit was the first 'chapel' on the left as you enter. Actually it's a church in itself, the basilica of Santa Maria Restituta...and that basilica is why the Duomo is a 'must-see', imo. See tip below.
The oldest church in Naples, Basilica di Santa Restituta dates from the 4th century AD, built on the orders of Constantine the Great. It is considered an important example of Paleo-Christian architecture, constructed over the ruins of more ancient structures. The basilica became a mere side chapel within the cathedral when the larger structure was constructed in the 13th century. In the original design, the basilica consisted of five naves, but in a 14th century renovation, the outer ones were closed up and converted into several side chapels of which one preserves a mosaic of the Madonna with Saints Gennaro and Restituta dating from 1322 AD. Subsequent renovations in the 17th and 18th centuries saw the addition of Renaissance and Baroque details, such as the stunning frescoed ceiling which rests over Gothic arches and recycled Roman columns. Basilica di Santa Restituta gives access to il Battistero di San Giovanni in Fonte and to the underground archaeological ruins of Graeco-Roman structures, discovered in the early 1970s.
[Note: when I visited in Apr 2010, the underground excavations were closed for an extended period for archaeological works.]
One of the oldest baptistries in the western world to have survived intact, il Battistero di San Giovanni in Fonte dates from 550 AD (San Giovanni in Laterano in Rome has an older baptistry, but it was heavily remodelled). This one in Naples is accessed from the Basilica di Santa Restituta, and is thus part of the cathedral of Naples. The small square baptistry is topped by a dome covered in patches of mosaics that have survived since its construction in the 6th century AD. The baptistry and its mosaics are of great architectural value as they are of the few survivors from the early Christian period.
Completed in 1646 by the architect Francesco Grimaldi, the Reale Cappella del Tesoro di San Gennaro is a masterpiece of Neapolitan Baroque architecture. It was constructed as part of the Duomo, to the right hand side of the nave opposite the Basilica di Santa Restituta, to honour the patron saint of Naples, San Gennaro. So important was the saint to Neapolitans that no expense was spared in the construction of his chapel, from richly carved polychrome marble to a dome painted with exquisite frescoes. The renowned Neapolitan artist, Francesco Solimena designed the elaborate altar.
Discovered by chance during an early 1970s restoration, the archaeological excavations of the Duomo lie below the Basilica di Santa Restituta. The ruins are accessed from the basilica and transport the visitor to an even earlier period than the construction of the ancient basilica itself, when street levels were much lower. The foundations of earlier Roman and Greek period buildings, including the Temple of Apollo, Paleo-Christian floor mosaics over pagan ones, an aqueduct and some residences, can be seen. Whether or not one likes archaeology, visiting these ruins is a must as they help to illustrate the length of history that the city of Naples has witnessed.
[Note: when I visited in Apr 2010, the underground excavations were closed for an extended period for archaeological work.]
Dedicated to the patron saint of the city, San Gennaro, the cathedral of Naples was constructed in the 13th-14th centuries on the orders of Carlo I d'Angiò, King of Naples and Sicily, known in English as Charles I of Anjou. The chosen site was just outside la Basilica di Santa Restituta, the oldest church in the city, which resulted in the fusion of the two structures, along with the ancient Baptistry (Battistero di San Giovanni in Fonte), into one cathedral. Successive additions and renovations over the centuries, including the construction of the Capella di San Gennaro in the 17th century, have resulted in a cathedral complex composed of three churches, mixing multiple architectural styles, from Paleo-Christian to Gothic to Baroque, not to mention the Roman columns that decorate the sides of the large pillars. The neo-Gothic façade was only added in the late 19th century (designed by the architect, Errico Alvino) but incorporated impressive 14th century doors.
A very grand building, dating mostly from the 13th century. A surprisingly welcoming interior with a lot of colour and life. The chapels are especially interesting; in particular, the Capella dei Tesoro di San Gennaro, painted by artists specially imported from Rome (e.g. Guido Reni) is filled with pictures of various miraculous events in the life of the saint, and people's amazed reactions to them. Here are also a number of silver busts of saints, and hidden behind the altar for most of the year, a silver bust of the saint himself, containing his skull and phials of his congealed blood. The Capella di Santa Restituta, opposite, is Naples' oldest surving bascilica, originally a 4th century Paleo-Christmian structure. A very lovely place, with some good ancient frescoes and mosaics, especially in the Bapistry.
The Scavi dei Duomo are a hodgepodge of styles and structures from Greek times onwards. Worth a visit if one's interests lie in that field.
Duomo: Monday-Friday - 8.00 - 12.30, 16.30-19.00
Saturday: 08.00-12.30, 16.30-19.30. Sunday 08.00-13.30, 17.00-19.30
Santa Restituta, Scavi and Baptistry: Monday - Saturday - 09.00-12.00, 16.30-19.00, Sunday 09.00-12.00
Duomo & Excavations: free.
Excavations: Euro 3
No photographs - however, if one is discrete in the Duomo, then it is possible to take pictures (no flash) without causing the wrath of God. However, in the Baptistry, it is only possible to take photographs when the man at the ticket booth goes for a wander, or else you can also manage to take photographs (no flash) from behind one of the thick and substantial pillars.
The Cathedral of Naples (or Duomo) is dedicated to San Gennaro (Saint Januarius), the city's patron. Originally built between 1294 and 1323 in French Gothic style, it was considerably restored and altered after an earthquake in 1456. It was built on the foundations of two early Christian basilicas. Beneath the church, excavations have revealed Greek and Roman artefacts, just as at San Lorenzo Maggiore. In the centre of the front, which dates from 1877 to 1905, is an older doorway dating back to1407.
The church houses a vial of the Saint's blood, which is believed to have the power of liquefaction. According to the legend, this occurred for the first time when the saint's remains were transferred to Naples in the time of Constantine . It is now brought out twice a year, on the first Saturday in May and 19th September, and usually liquefies. According to legend, if the blood should fail to liquefy, then something bad will happen to Naples. The saint's tomb can be seen in the richly decorated Confessio (1497-1506) under the high altar.
We didn’t go inside as a Mass was just finishing and it would have meant fighting against the people leaving the building. Instead we went to get a quick lunch, planning to return – but decided while eating that it was time to leave the Centro Storico and explore another side of Naples.
The Duomo San Gennaro has been built in the 13th century in French-Gothic style.
In the 19th century the facade has been remodeled in the same style as the duomos in Orvieto and Siena.
The crypt underneath the church holds the bones of St. Januarius, the patron saint of the church.
Via the left side of the church you enter the S. Restituta, a basilica from the 5th century.
Via the right side of the church you enter the Capella S. Gennora from the 17th century that holds the scull of St. Januarius and two ampoules with his blood, that becomes fluid every year on certain dates.
Built between 1294 and 1323, the Duomo of San Gennaro lies behind a mostly 19th century facade. It was commissioned by Charles II of Anjou and completed by Robert of Anjou. The nave is lined with ancient columns and houses the relics of San Gennaro, patron saint of Naples (martyred in AD 305). The ornate Cappella San Gennaro holds his head, within a silver-gilt bust. The Cappella Carafa, a Renaissance masterpiece built in 1497 to 1506, contains the saint's tomb.
The exterior of the Duomo, Naples' Cathedral, is not particularly interesting - and it's hardly a century old! But don't be deceived into thinking that it's not worth a look inside - you can't judge a Cathedral by it's cover!
The Duomo was built around the end of the 12th century.
The Cathedral of Naples has undergone several restorations over the centuries, partly carried out to repair the damage from earthquakes and partly to increase its artistic beauty.
The relics of San Gennaro, the patron saint of Naples are kept in the cathedral.
The Duomo is fantastic, and is really a huge tribute to San Gennaro, the saint who is said to have saved the city from a cholera epidemic. It is a very big church, and no photography is allowed whatsoever. Well, I did take quite a few pictures, but I'd recommend being discreet if you choose to.
The Baslica as built in the 4th century, and become the Cathedral in 1.294. It's also known as Basilica di Santa Restituta.