October 15, 2016 – Following our excursion to Herculaneum we returned to the MV Aegean Odyssey (docked in Naples Harbour) for lunch and a quick nap. Then it was time for an afternoon, unguided walk through Naples.
Naples is said to be one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world. It was originally a Greek settlement under a different name in the second millennium BC. Then founded as Neapolis in the 6th Century BC. Under Roman rule it played a key role in the merging of Greek and Roman cultures. In the 13th century to early in the 19 century it was the capital of the Kingdom of Naples, then the capital of the Kingdom of Sicily until the unification of Italy in 1861.
Naples is well-known for its historic castles. The ancient Castel Nuovo is one of the city’s most recognisable landmarks; it was built during the time of Charles I, the first king of Naples. In 1294, Pope Celestine V resigned as pope in a hall of the castle, and following this Pope Boniface VIII was elected pope by the cardinal collegium there, before moving to Rome.
There are many more fascinating “facts” about Naples. For example, it is said to have 448 historical churches.
The church of San Francesco di Paola is on the west side of the main city square or piazza of the city, the Piazza del Plebiscito. On the east side of the piazza is the Royal Palace.
In the early 19th century, King Joachim Murat of Naples (Napoleon’s brother-in-law) planned the entire square and a large building with the colonnades as a tribute to Napoleon. Its construction was begun by King Joachim Murat and finished by the Bourbon King Ferdinand IV in 1816. He converted the finished product into the church and dedicated it to Saint Francis of Paola, who had stayed in a monastery on this site in the 16th century.
Near the Piazza del Plebiscito is the Teatro di San Carlo
The facades of the Opera Theatre and the Galleria were undergoing major restorations. The theatre’s facade was almost entirely covered with a hording.
The nearby streets were a mix of style and clutter.
We walked along Via Chiaia…
…then up Gradoni Di Chiaia…
About 4.4 million people live in the Naples metropolitan area, one of the largest metropolises on the Mediterranean Sea. The density of housing is apparent as one walks the streets.
…then down to Via Toledo.
Via Toledo was busy with late afternoon shoppers…
… although there were breaks in the flow of people.
Via Toledo is a 1 km long ancient street. It starts near Piazza del Plebiscito and heads west to Piazza Dante. The street was created by Spanish viceroy Pedro Álvarez de Toledo, 2nd Marquis of Villafranca in 1536.
After a birra on Via Toledo we made our way back home (MV Aegean Odyssey).
Our Voyage to Antiquity was a sample cruise, with just enough time to enjoy the “flavour” of each destination. I wish we’d had time to visit the various museums and art galleries that house a wealth of Roman artifacts and major art works from 13th to 18th centuries. So, as with most of the other destination we felt we had not done justice to Naples, but at least we have now experienced a part of it.
Our next episode will be from Sorrento, hope you’ll join us there.
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