The cardinal points of Naples

Naples, a pearl set in the middle of the Mediterranean, has a unique geographical position defined by a precise urban plan that refers to the cardinal points.

The city of Naples, in fact, was founded by the Greeks, according to the stylistic features of the Greek polis, therefore with a hippodameo structure and a mostly square shape, but the orientation is such that the city was exposed for a long time to sunlight, so much so that the major decuman is oriented towards the point where the Sun rises on the summer solstice, the brightest day of the year.
Naples can be easily told based on the cardinal points, in which the different beauties of the city and its surroundings unfold.

Today I will take you to discover the beauties that are located south of Naples.

The historic center of Naples

Beyond the name, the historical centre of Naples is located south of what according to the cardinal points is the centre of the city (more or less near the Bosco di Capodimonte). The nerve centre and cultural point of the emblem of the southern cities, the historic centre of Naples has been a UNESCO heritage site since 1997 and also includes the ancient centre of the city. Inside we find a myriad of testimonies and jumble of cultures that over the years have thickened in the alleys of the city. Proceeding from the cardinal centre of the city where we find one of the residences of the kings of Naples, the Reggia di Capodimonte, which preserves some of the most beautiful paintings in the world, including some works by Caravaggio.

Continuing south we are invaded by the folklore of the Sanità district, home of the prince of Neapolitan laughter, Totò, and some of the most beautiful examples of Neapolitan noble palaces, such as the Palazzo dello Spagnuolo and Palazzo Sanfelice. Immediately after Sanità we meet the National Archaeological Museum, rich in history and testimonies of Greek-Roman Naples. The Museum together with the Galleria Principe di Napoli acts as a door to the real ancient centre of the city. From here begins the system of thistles and decumani of the hippodameo scheme, which will take you to enjoy the beauty of the UNESCO heritage centre.

The first decuman that we encounter is also the Maggiore one which from the centre reaches up to Forcella and which contains a string of attractions of any kind and age. Starting from Piazza Bellini, famous for the historic conservatory of San Pietro a Majella, you will discover along the way the San Severo Chapel, home of the Veiled Christ, the Church of Santa Maria Delle Anime del Purgatorio ad Arco, famous for the cult of its skulls, the underground Naples and the street of the cribs, San Gregorio Armeno, which throughout the year makes you breathe the Christmas air. You reach the lower decuman  through San Gregorio Armeno which coincides with Spaccanapoli, the historic street that ideally cuts the city in half and that reaches the central station, crossing the beautiful Piazza del Gesù Nuovo with the homonymous church, in front of the beautiful church of Santa Chiara, where there are the remains of many kings who dominated Naples.

Next to these, there are other alleys and other attractions that you can discover in every corner of the centre and that you cannot find anywhere else in the world.

The southern border of Naples: from the waterfront to the shopping streets

Immediately after the historic centre, another range of alternatives opens up that takes you to the city closest to our time. It starts from Piazza Matteotti with the beautiful building of the central post office and arrives in via Roma, one of the Neapolitan shopping streets but not only, but it is also a place full of beauty. From via Roma, you can access the characteristic quartieri spagnoli, with their flavours and their bright colours that express all the veracity of the Neapolitan people. After the neighbourhoods you reach the beautiful Galleria Umberto I, which similar to Vittorio Emanuele in Milan, is a real covered square that takes you to see both the Maschio Angioino and the San Carlo theatre. Via Roma ends at Piazza Trieste e Trento, which acts as an antechamber to the huge Piazza del Plebliscito, where the other home of the kings of Naples and, in this case, also of Italy, the Royal Palace is met.

After passing Piazza del Plebiscito you finally reach the southernmost limit of the city, the waterfront. Here Naples presents you in all its beauty with Vesuvius, the Sorrento Peninsula and the islands that form the backdrop resting on the blue sea where the whole city is reflected. Even here history has left its mark, from the inevitable Castel dell' Ovo to the Borgo marinari, through the noble palaces overlooking the sea and the majestic Villa Comunale just before the border with the Fuorigrotta cave, where the remains of Virgil and Leopardi.

This is a small itinerary that, following the cardinal point heading south, allows you to visit a large part of the ancient, Renaissance, Baroque and modern city, but there are also other dozens of unmentioned attractions that may interest you.

What are you still doing there? Come and enjoy the geography of Naples from North to South and from East to West!