sights / Religious

Duomo information

Naples , Italy
Via Duomo
+390 81 44 90 97
Getting there
Bus: C55 to Via Duomo
More information
baptistry admission €1.50
Opening hours
cathedral, baptistry & archaeological zone 8.30am-1pm & 3.30-7.30pm Mon-Sat, 8.30am-1.30pm & 4.30-7.30pm Sun
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Whether you go for Giovanni Lanfranco's fresco in the Cappella di San Gennaro (Chapel of St Janarius), the 4th-century mosaics in the baptistry, or the thrice-annual miracle of San Gennaro, don't miss Naples' cathedral. Initiated by Charles I of Anjou in 1272 and consecrated in 1315, it was largely destroyed in a 1456 earthquake, with copious nips and tucks over the subsequent centuries.

Among these is the gleaming neo-Gothic facade, only added in the late 19th-century. Step inside and you'll immediately notice the central nave's gilded coffered ceiling, studded with late-Mannerist art. The high sections of the nave and the transept are the work of baroque overachiever Luca Giordano.

Off the left aisle, the 17th-century Cappella di San Gennaro (Chapel of St Januarius, also known as the Chapel of the Treasury) was designed by Giovanni Cola di Franco and completed in 1637. The most celebrated artists of the period worked on the chapel, creating one of the city's greatest baroque legacies. Highlights here include Giuseppe de Ribera's gripping canvas St Gennaro Escaping the Furnace Unscathed and Giovanni Lanfranco's dizzying dome fresco. Hidden away in a strongbox behind the altar is a 14th-century silver bust in which sit the skull of San Gennaro and the two phials that hold his miraculously liquefying blood.

The next chapel eastwards contains an urn with the saint's bones and a cupboard full of femurs, tibias and fibulas. Below the high altar is the Cappella Carafa , a Renaissance chapel built to house yet more of the saint's remains.

Off the north aisle sits one of Naples' oldest basilicas, dating to the 4th century. Incorporated into the main cathedral, the Basilica di Santa Restituta was subject to an almost complete makeover after the earthquake of 1688. Beyond this lurks the Duomo's archaeological zone , which showcases fascinating remains of Greek and Roman buildings and roads. Here, too, is the baptistry , the oldest in Western Europe, with its glittering 4th-century mosaics.

If you're intrigued by Naples' cultish love affair with San Gennaro, consider popping into the Duomo's adjacent Museo del Tesoro di San Gennaro , whose glittering collection of precious ex voto gifts includes bronze busts, silver ampullae, sumptuous paintings and a gilded 18th-century sedan chair used to shelter the saint's bust on rainy procession days.