San Lorenzo Maggiore - History and Facts | History Hit

San Lorenzo Maggiore

Naples, Campania, Italy

What seems to be an attractive 13th century church in Naples contains a startling secret – the amazing underground remains of the Greco-Roman city of Neapolis.

Peta Stamper

12 Jul 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About San Lorenzo Maggiore

What seems to be the attractive 13th century church of San Lorenzo Maggiore in Naples contains a startling secret – the amazing underground remains of the Greco-Roman city of Neapolis. For lovers of ancient Rome San Lorenzo Maggiore is simply unmissable and as such, this impressive site features as one of our Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Italy.

San Lorenzo Maggiore history

Established in approximately 470 BC by the Cumans, Neapolis would later become the Roman city of Naples and the remains reflect this change as well as development into medieval times. The church’s origins came from the Franciscans in Naples during the life of St Francis of Assisi, although what is seen today was built after Charles I of Anjou decided to built his new fortress, the Maschio Angioino there in the 13th century.

Open since 1992, however, the classical archaeological site beneath the Gothic church has become the centrepiece of San Lorenzo Maggiore.

San Lorenzo Maggiore today

Open between 9.30am and 5.30pm, the main find at the San Lorenzo Maggiore Ruins are the remains of the Greek meeting place and marketplace, known as the Agora. A Roman food market or ‘Macellum’ has also been found, partially incorporated into the cloisters of a church themselves dating back to the 14th century.

Visitors to the San Lorenzo Maggiore Ruins can also see public buildings such as what would have been the public treasury or “Aerarium” and a series of roads and “tabernae” or shops including a laundrette and a bakery.

Beneath the 13th century church of San Lorenzo Maggiore, there are also the remnants of a 6th century AD Christian basilica. This truly remarkable place is also an informative museum, with exhibits and historical information covering the archaeological excavations at the site.

Getting to San Lorenzo Maggiore

Located a 10 minute walk from the Porto di Napoli on the coast, San Lorenzo Maggiore is easily reach on foot from Naples’ other historical attractions or on public transport. You can get the metro line 1 to either Dante or Museo stops – both 10 minutes walk away – or buses 3M, 139, 168, 178, 182, 184, 301, 584, 602, 604 or C63 stop at Conte di Ruvo, equally as close.

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