Commissioned by Charles II of Anjou (Carlo II d'Angiò) in 1283 AD, la Chiesa di San Domenico Maggiore became the seat of the Dominican Order in Naples. Its interior was originally designed in a Gothic style but successive renovations, particularly after a fire in 1506, transformed it into a Baroque church. Another renovation in 1850 by the architect, Frederico Travaglini, altered it further into the extravagant Neo-Gothic interior that we see today, but the architect managed to conserve the stunning early 18th century ceiling frescoes by Francesco Solimena. The church's apse dominates Piazza San Domenico, where a side entrance provides an entry point. However, the façade of the church, designed in a mix of Gothic and Baroque styles, is hidden in a courtyard of a palazzo on the narrow street Vico San Domenico.
The church was built in 1283 by King Charles II of Angevin, and is part of the largest and wealthiest group of convent buildings in the city. It is the spiritual home of the Dominican Order in the Kingdom of Naples, as well as the seat of the Parthenopean University. In the past, religious people lived in an old convent in the area. The 'San Michele Arcangelo a Morfisa' church (probably built in the tenth century, eventually to become the side chapel of a new edifice) bears witness to its existence. The main entrance to the church can be found in the courtyard of a palace in the Vico San Domenico. There is a beautiful fourteenth century portal with jambs in various styles, decorated with precious tesseras in polychrome marble, as well as two Renaissance chapels and an eighteenth century pronaos beneath a nineteenth century mullioned window. You will find a gamut of styles, representing successive periods of history and architecture. A Baroque bell can be found on the façade. The polygonal apse juts out onto the Piazza San Domenica. Upon entering through a marble portal created in the sixteenth century, you will be able to walk straight up to the altar - on the left you will see a flight of stairs at the entrance to the old nucleus of the San Michele Arcangelo a Morfisa church. The interior of the church is typical of a Gothic church bulit during the Angevin period in Naples: three naves with a transept and a polygonal apse.
This massive Gothic edifice was built from 1289 to 1324 and then was rebuilt in the Renaissance and early baroque eras. You enter from under the apse end, where you'll see that the body of the church was overhauled in neo-Gothic style in the 1850s. The University of Naples held its theology courses, which were attended by St. Thomas Aquinas and Giordano Bruno, in the convent attached to the church. The last restoration work was done in 1815 and the interior of the church assumed its present appearance when the 16th century and baroque decorations were replaced with objects in neogothic style.
The apse of San Domenico Maggiore Church faces the homonymous square, overlooked by Corigliano, Petrucci and Casacalenda Palaces. In the middle of the Square there‘s the Spire of S.Domenico Maggiore with a pyramidal structure. Vestiges of Greco-Roman period, are still visible in a little stretch of a glazed floor in a bar at the corner of the square, between the Basilica and a lecture-room of “L’Orientale” University in the Corigliano Palace.
The church of San Domenico Maggiore was built under the king Carlo d’Angiò for Domenicans at the end of 13th century in Gothic style. In the square there is the rear of the church, because the main entrance, with a wonderfoul façade, is at the opposite side. This Church underwent intense changes during centuries becoming baroque Church in 17th century and going back to its original style with the repairs of 19th century. The nearby construction, once integrating part of the church, was used for some centuries by the Naples University, where S. Tommaso D’Aquino worked as a professor. The Basilica is very rich in art works: going inside you can find a lot of examples of the best Neapolitan sculptures of 16th century. In the Rosary Chapel there is a copy realized by Andrea Vaccaro of the famous “Flagellazione” of Caravaggio. The original is kept in Capodimonte Museum for security reasons. Here you can find two famous pictures of Luca Giordano.
[Egicom05 – by Elisir]
In contrast with its neighbour, Santa Chiara, this church is very richly decorated, yet it does not go into the excesses of baroque, as it also has a neo-Gothic influence. It was built in 1324. A most original church, especially when one needs to walk up from the piazza via stairs before having a glimpse at its magnificence.
Between via San Biagio and via dei Capitelli lies this charming piazza, just under the church. At night, it is superbly lit, and was one of the most appealing visions of my walk through this old, dense part of town.
This church was really interesting, but you've got to be here at the right time (see the hours), or you won't be able to see inside. The difference it had from most other churches is that the main floor is on the second floor, or primo piano in Italian. The first floor in Italian = the second floor to us in the US. Anyway, the altar is also on the opposite side of the church than you'd expect. Actually, you enter just beside the altar. Don't miss the chapel off to the side, as it has the most beautiful ceiling, as you can see in the photo included. There are tombs from many deceased royal and religious people in here as well.
Open weekdays 10 a.m.-1 p.m., holidays 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
Although the official address is Piaza San Domenico, 8, there is another more beautiful on the otherside.
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In the middle of the square, there is the Guglia/Column di San Domenico, built to celebrate the end of the Black Death of 1.656.