A monumental place to discover: Naples Cathedral

A monumental place to discover: Naples Cathedral

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Everyone will visit soon or later Naples cathedral: loyal, tourists, curious … but how many people really know its story?

Naples Cathedral History

Naples Cathedral

Naples cathedral is a monumental masterpiece to discover. The cathedral is located in Duomo street and it is consacrated to Assunpation, later to Saint Gennaro. Saint Gennaro is the patron of Naples.

Carlo III D’angiò, king of Naples at first commissionated the Cathedral to French architects but after to local artists. Cathedral was built in 13th century, it was completed under King Roberto D’Angiò in 1313-14.

 

Ancient site

There were in the ancient site, before building the cathedral: an old basilica of Santa Restituta, it dates back to 4th century, an old baptistery of Saint Giovanni in Fonte and there was a basilica of Santa Stefania. The first two building are incorporated in the cathedral project . Santa Sefania’s basilica was destroyed. This builidings had been built on the ancient roman site.

 

The fortune and the adversuty of the Naples cathedral

The project of cathedral is really unlucky because there will be in Naples two earthquakes, that be going to damageing many parts of cathedral, between three and four hundred century. Despite these catastrophic events, the reconstitution of cathedral has been very lucky, because there are lot of parts that have been rebuilt in Renaissance and baroque style. In fact these are the places of the cathedral that fascinate the tourists. For example this places are: Succorpo chapel and the royal chapel of San Gennaro’s treasure.  This two chapels  are more frequented by visitors. After the second mondial war, the cathedral’s facade was rebuilt. In the ninetheen century  the cathedral was restored.

Naples Cathedral’s facade

Cathedral’s facade has been restructured lot of times. In the nineteenth century it was rebuilt, in gothic revival style, by Errico Alvino architect . The facade is in marble. There are, at the sides of facade, two incomplete bells towers. There are three entrance portals, on portals there are  Gothic sculptures of the ancient facade. Two marble lions support the central portal, that have carved by Tino Di Camaino, as well as the sculpture on the central portal that rapresent Virgin Mary with her child. There are sculptures of  Minutolo Cardinal, Saint Gennaro and Saint Pietro. In ancient age, the portal on the right, been opened only on special occasions: when there was San Gennaro’s feast, when a member of royal familiy married itself.

Naples Cathedral’s interior design

The cathedral has a plant in a shape of a latin cross, with a nave and two side aisles. ( the plant had remember Crist’s cross). There are side chapels.

In internal facade there are an Angioini’s memorials.

The naves are separated by eight pillars in african granite. Above them, there are big ogival arcs. This arcs are in gothic style and they support a trussbeam roof. This roof has been covered with coffered celing in sixteenth-century style.

Transept  and Succorpo Chapel

In transept there is an access for Succorpo chapel. Infact the transept is raised in comparison to the central aisle. Cardinal Oliviero Carafa commissionated the chapel to Renassaince architect Tommaso Malvito. Probably was designed by famous architect Donato Bramante. The chapel is in marble. There is in the chapel the statue of cardinal Oliviero Carafa and are preserved  San Gennaro relics into it. The chapel is a Reinassance jewel.

Left nave and Basilica of Santa Restituta

In the left nave of cathedral there is an access into basilica of Santa Restituta. The basilica of Santa Restituta was foundend by Costantino I. The basilica has been incorporated into the cathedral, now it is a chapel of cathedral. Over the years it has been modified, infact there are lot of architectonic elements that are Early christians and Baroques. Early Christian is, for exmple, Saint Giovanni in Fonte baptistery, that is demeed the oldest in the west becouse it is of the fourth century. A examples Baroque of the basilica are the sacred altar and the apse. The chapel now has three naves that are separated by Corinthian columns, recovered from Apollo’s temple. Into there is an archeological are when there are Greek and Romans remain.

Right nave and Saint Gennaro’s chapel

In the right nave of cathedral there is an access into Saint Gennaro’s chapel. It preserveses the blood of Saint Gennaro, the patron of Naples. The chapel is a art and architecture jewel in the world. Inside there are marbles, paintings, frescoes by the best artists of the Baroque Neapolitan movement. It was designed by friar Francesco Grimaldi, after the death of the architect, the work was carried out by Ceccardo Bernucci and Giovan Giacomo Conforto. The construction of Chapel, dates back at 1527, and  it was a thanks becouse San Gennaro had liberated Naples each by three disaster: cholera, French and Spanish civil war and Vesuvius eruption. In 1601 was founded the deputation of royal  treasure of Saint Gennaro, for building the structure the assignements was submitted to the deputation. There was the inauguration on December in 1646. In the chapel there is a treasure that was donated  by royals and noblemen. The chapel was frescoed by Guido Reni, Domenichino, Lanfranco and Cavalier D’arpino.

Facts about Naples Cathedral

Did you know that the novel of literary man Boccaccio, has been set in Minutolo chapel into Naples cathedral? The novel calls Andreuccio da Perugia and it is present in decameron. It is said that Giovanni Boccaccio was inspired by the Minutolo chapel, it was very valuable and for this reason Andreuccio stolen the treasure. Fantasy? Legend? Reality? It is true that for centuries the imposing basilica by Carlo I D’Angiò in 1266 has never ceased to charm the visitors.

Ps. The Minutolo chapel lies in the transept of the cathedral, precisely on the right side adjacent to the raised apse. This chapel, dedicated to St. Peter and St. Anastasia, is uncertain dating but was restored by Archbishop Capece Minutolo in the last years of the 13th century to make his funeral chapel.

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Diletta Costa
Dtt.ssa in Cultura e ammministrazione dei Beni Culturali. Studentessa magistrale in Storia dell'arte. Le mie due patrie sono Spoleto e Napoli.

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