Naples is beautifully situated at the base and on the slopes of the hills enclosing the Bay of Naples. The bay, dominated by Mt. Vesuvius, extends from Cape Misena in the north to the Sorrento peninsula in the south and is dotted with towns and villas. Near its entrance are the islands of Capri, Ischia, and Procida. Naples is a crowded and noisy city, famous for its songs, festivals, and gaiety. Especially interesting parts of the city are the Old Spacca Quarter (the heart of Old Naples) and the seaside Santa Lucia sector.
Noteworthy structures in Naples include the Castel Nuovo (1282); the Castel dell'Ovo (rebuilt by the Angevins in 1274); the Renaissance-style Palazzo Cuomo (late 15th cent.); the large Carthusian Monastery of St. Martin (remodeled in the 16th and 17th cent.); the neoclassic Villa Floridiana, which houses a museum of porcelain, china, and Neopolitan paintings; the Church of Santa Chiara (Gothic, with 18th-century baroque additions), which contains the tombs of Robert the Wise and other Angevin kings; the Cathedral of St. Januarius (14th cent., with numerous later additions, including a 17th-century baroque chapel); the Royal Palace (early 17th cent.); and the Church of Santa Maria Donna Regina. Beneath the city lies a network of tunnels and catacombs.
Naples has several museums including the National Museum, which holds the Farnese collection and most of the objects excavated at nearby Pompeii and Herculaneum; the picture gallery, housed in Capodimonte palace; a museum of contemporary art, and the aquarium. As a musical center Naples reached its greatest brilliance in the 17th and 18th cent.; Alessandro and Domenico Scarlatti, Porpora, Pergolesi, Paisiello, and Cimarosa were among the representatives of the Neapolitan style. The Teatro San Carlo, a famous opera house, was opened in 1737. The city has a conservatory and several art academies. Near Naples is the Camaldulian Hermitage (founded 1585), from which there is an excellent view of the bay region.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.