Located in southern region of Campania, Italy, Naples is a major port city in the centre of the ancient Mediterranean area. It is the third-largest city in Italy. Naples is a vibrant city with a flowing downtown area, with many tourist attractions, including museums, art galleries, theaters and more.
Below the surface of the modern city, under the cobblestones, it is possible to glimpse into this past, as the remains of ancient buildings, squares, streets and catacombs are open to the public.
The artistic and monumental heritage of Naples includes more than ten museums, large picture galleries, an aquarium, botanical gardens, four castles, five ancient gates to the city, two royal palaces, parks, theaters, numerous fountains and squares, libraries and an imposing number of buildings and streets. Then we must consider the churches (approximately 200), most of which are of great architectural, historical and artistic importance, some taking their structure from ancient pagan Temples and some with catacombs of interest.
An open air archaeological museum, with its greek and roman walls, the excavations of San Lorenzo and the Duomo, the Cardo and Decumano, the Antique shops, and the statue of the God of the Nile. There are also inhabited building where greek-roman stone artifacts can still be found along with columns and decorations.
Its origins go back to its foundation as Parthenope or Palaepolis in the 9th century B.C., subsequently re-established as Neapolis (New City) in 470 B.C.
Sections of the greek town walls excavated since World War II and the excavated remains of a roman theater, cemeteries and catacombs testify to this history. In the 6th century A.D., Naples was conquered by the Byzantine Empire, becoming an autonomous Duchy, later associated with the Normans, Swabians, and the Sicilian reign. Evidence of this period includes the Castel dell’Ovo, one of the most substantial survivals from the Norman period, although subsequently remodelled on several occasions.
With the Angevin dynasty (1265-1442), Naples became the living symbol of the prestige, dignity, and power of the dynasty. The Angevin initiated an influential relationship with Western art and architecture, particularly French Gothic, integrated with the earlier Greek and Arab elements. The convents of Santa Chiara and San Lorenzo Maggiore and the churches of Donna Regina and lncoronata, San Domenico Maggiore and the new Cathedral date from this period.
From the 15th to 17th centuries, Naples was governed by the Aragonese, who remodelled the defences and street pattern, and constructed the Castel Nuovo largely in the Tuscan style. The period of Spanish rule is marked by the Royal Palace built in 1600 along one side of the imposing Piazza del Plebiscito.
From 1734, under the government of the Bourbons, Naples emerged, together with Paris and London, as one of the major capital cities of Europe. Important palaces of the 18th century include the large palace Albergo dei Poveri, the National Archaeological Museum, the Certosa on the hill of San Martino, and the Villa Pignatelli.
But Naples also offers a lot to contemporary art’s addicted.
Naples first became a center for modern art in the 1960s thanks to private galleries owners such as Lucio Amelio, and Lia Rumma,.
Nowdays two private foundations have their bases in significant buildings in the city centre. The Fondazione Morra Greco, in the 17th-century Palazzo Caracciolo d’Avellino and the (similarly named) Fondazione Morra, which opened a museum dedicated to Hermann Nitsch in a former electricity plant.
Since 1995, the annual Christmas project in the city’s main square, the Piazza del Plebiscito, has seen the installation of monumental works conceived by artists including Mario Merz, Anish Kapoor, Jenny Holzer and Richard Serra. Another institution for contemporary art is the Palazzo delle Arti Napoli, in Chiaia district, while in the city centre an entire museum dedicated to contemporary art have been established in 2005. It’s the MADRE (Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Donna Regina Napoli) which now hosts international exhibitions and houses a stunning collection of permanent works by Richard Serra, Sol LeWitt, and Jeff Koons and site specific art works.
The artistic project of the underground stations in Naples represents one of the most interesting Italian experiments on the permanent insertion of contemporary artworks in a urban context. Filled with colors, mosaics, installations, sculptures and photographs the first stations of Line 1: Museum – Dante designed by Gae Aulenti– Salvator Rosa and Materdei, designed by Alessandro Mendini – Cilea/Quattro Giornate – Vanvitelli – Rione Alto. In the last few years new stations designed by international architects as Alvaro Siza, Dominique Perrault, Studio Fuksas opened: Università, Toledo, Garibaldi, Municipio, Duomo.
Toledo station was described by the The Daily Telegraph as “the most impressive underground station in Europe”.