Flanked by the spiky Chiesa del Gesù Nuovo and the Basilica di Santa Chiara, this lively square is one of Naples' most beautiful. For hundreds of years it was the principal western entrance to the city, but it wasn't until two major modifications in the 16th century that the piazza took on its current proportions.
Firstly, Ferrante Sanseverino knocked down the houses that were blocking his beautiful 15th-century palazzo (later to become the Chiesa del Gesù Nuovo) and in one fell swoop cleared the square's northern flank. Some years later, Spanish viceroy Don Pedro de Toledo demolished the Angevin city gate and once again moved the city walls westwards.
At its centre soars Giuseppe Genuino's ornate Guglia dell'Immacolata, a statue of the Virgin Mary built between 1747 and 1750. On 8 December, the feast of the Immacolata, a fireman scrambles up to the top to rest a giant wreath of flowers on the statue.