Naples Cathedral - History and Facts | History Hit

Naples Cathedral

Naples, Campania, Italy

Naples Cathedral was completed in the 14th century and houses the relics of San Gennaro.

Lily Johnson

21 Jul 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Naples Cathedral

The magnificent Naples Cathedral, translated as Duomo di Napoli, was initially commissioned by King Charles I of Anjou in 1294 and took almost 30 years to complete. Since then however it has undergone a number of renovations, culminating in the striking Roman Catholic church we see today.

Naples Cathedral history

Whilst originally a 13th to 14th century church, earthquakes and other factors have meant that Naples Cathedral has undergone a series of renovations and rebuilding projects. This is demonstrated by the fact that its façade dates to the 19th century.

Also known as Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta, Naples Cathedral is often attributed as being dedicated to San Gennaro (Saint Januarius), whose relics are buried there. However, as its alternative name indicates, Naples Cathedral was actually dedicated to Our Lady of the Assumption.

Nevertheless, it is the chapel of San Gennaro, with its pretty frescos and 15th-century tomb, that forms one of the highlights of Naples Cathedral. San Gennaro was the Bishop of Naples and is now its patron saint, thought to have been martyred in the 4th century perhaps under Diocletian. His crypt is also said to contain a vial of his blood, which is brought out on specific holy days (such as the first Sunday of May) and liquefied, this being considered a good omen.

Naples Cathedral today

Today Naples Cathedral is a stunning example of a mixture of different architectures, including Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, and neo-Gothic. Striking frescoes, altarpieces, and other artworks decorate it throughout, and over the Royal Chapel of the Treasure of St Januarius is a large and beautiful dome decorated with heavenly imagery.

Naples Cathedral is also connected to the archaeological site of Santa Restituta, a 4th-century church which is accessible from the north aisle of the cathedral. Housing a museum and containing archaeological excavations from Greek and Roman times, including an early Christian crypt, Santa Restituta has an impressive set of ancient artefacts.

Getting to Naples Cathedral

Naples Cathedral is located in the centre of Naples in Italy, and is easily accessibly by foot. The nearest train and Metro stop is Napoli Piazza Cavour, a 10-minute walk away, while the nearest tram stop is Garibaldi – Umberto I, a 15-minute walk away. Naples’ main train station, Napoli Centrale, is also just a 20-minute walk away.

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