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Originally called Largo Mercatello in reference to a market that historically gathered there, this majestic square was transformed in the 18th century by Carlo di Borbone, the King of Naples and Sicily, who later ascended to the throne of Spain. The square's redesign was intended as a monument to the monarch and was to be called Foro Carolino (Forum of Charles), in the manner of Roman emperors. The project was assigned to the architect, Luigi Vanvitelli, who constructed a semicircular structure topped by 26 statues of the virtues of Carlo di Borbone. Where the two wings of the exedra met was a large niche in which a giant statue of the king himself was to be placed, but the project was never fully completed and the niche was instead converted into the entrance of the structure. In 1871, a large statue of Dante Alighieri was erected in the centre of the square and since then it came to be known as Piazza Dante. Nowadays, the piazza is rather quiet except for a young crowd that lingers around Dante's statue, whose pediment is covered in terrible graffiti (see attached photos).
Doesn't take much time, but worth stopping to visit this square marked by the statue of Dante the poet. Here you can experience the craziness of Naples- the driving, the grafitti and the local attitudes. Lining the walls of this square are book vendors and you can find some really cool books for a cheap price. We bought some adorable Italian children's pop-up books for 1 euro each. No one spoke a word of english so be prepared!
This was the nearest square to our hotel, with a useful Metro station and several restaurants, so it was inevitable that we would spend a fair bit of time here. But it’s also worth a visit as a destination in its own right as the buildings on the east side of the square are particularly eye-catching.
In the north east corner is the striking Port’ Alba, one of the city’s ancient gates, which leads into the historic district. To the right of this is an elegant semicircular building designed by the architect Luigi Vanvitelli in 1765 to honour King Charles Third – the 26 statues on the balustrade apparently represent the king’s virtues. Before then the square was known simply as Largo del Mercatello (Market Square) but it was rechristened "Foro Carolina," after the King’s wife. The statues of Dante, sculpted by Tito Angelini, were added in the 19th century and the square re-named again. Today it’s slightly scruffy and a favourite meeting place it seems for Naples’ youth, but the elegance of the design is still clear.
(The website below has some good photos but is only in Italian)
- Historical Travel
Hang out at Piazza Dante!
This piazza is quite large and is in a good location. I guess it used to be kind of ghetto, but they've really cleaned it up. When I was there in 2004, MTV actually had a whole series of free concerts here. I would pass by the place on my way to class and got to see some people like Avril Lavigne and that group, Haiduci, that made that song "Dragostea Din Tei." Hey, it was free!
- Historical Travel
Piazza Dante is a large public square in Naples. On the square is dominating 19th-century statue of the great poet, Dante Alighieri.
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