Naples is home to almost 450 historic and monumental churches. They range from tiny chapels to some of the most important buildings in the city. In between your pizza stops and all your other sightseeing must-dos, we think you should visit some of Naples’s beautiful churches. There are plenty to pick from, but to start you off, we have narrowed it down to five that are not to be missed…
San Domenico Maggiore
Don’t let the simple façade fool you, as what is inside is a lot more beautiful than the church first lets on. As far as beauty goes, San Domenico Maggiore is up there as one of Naples’s best-looking churches. The architecture inside is early Renaissance, with the focal point being the frescoed ceiling by Francesco Solimena – a big-name Neapolitan Baroque painter. The church is located in the piazza of the same name – stop for a late-afternoon aperitivo after visiting the church.
This tiny chapel was built in the 17th century. The most striking feature of the chapel is the Veiled Christ, a marble masterpiece made by Giuseppe Sanmartino. It’s one of those that, unless you are told about it, you could walk straight past on your explorations and miss it. But don’t! Located just a short distance from San Domenico Maggiore, it’s easy to get to.
If you only make it to one of the churches on our list, make it this one. The Duomo is Naples’ main church and dates back to the 13th century (although it was redone after the earthquakes that hit in 1788 and 1887). The impressive cathedral is dedicated to the city’s patron saint, San Gennaro, and this is celebrated yearly with the Festival of San Gennaro – a famous blood ceremony and one of Naples’s most important religious festivals. As well as notable pieces of artwork, striking frescoes and mosaics, the Duomo is also home to the oldest chapel in Naples, Basilica di Santa Restituta, located inside on the left. Keep your camera at the ready; the entrance of the Cathedral is definitely photo-worthy.
San Lorenzo Maggiore
This Gothic church is located at the bottom end of Piazza San Gaetano. The Greek and Roman remains underneath the church make for a fascinating visit. In fact, it’s said that the church was built on top of what used to be Naples’ ancient markets and shops. On this site there is also a museum, allowing you to learn more about the church’s history.
Santa Chiara Church
The Santa Chiara is another church blessed with good looks. The church dates back to 1310 and is one of the most important buildings in Naples. Situated in a walled complex just west of the centro storico, you can team a visit to the church with an afternoon rest – the gardens are a lovely place to relax on a summer’s afternoon.