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May 6, 2010
NAPLES, IT, May 6, 2010/ Bon Voyage / — Naples, one of the oldest cities in the world, has a romantic history of invasion, war and retribution that dates back to 2,800 years ago. A capital city of the Campania Region situated in the province of Naples, it sits on the coast of the Gulf of Naples between the powerful presence of Mount Vesuvius and the craters of the Phlegraean Fields.
Originally founded as a Greek colony in the 8th century BC, this city was transferred from one ruling power to another throughout the turbulent periods of its history. As a result, it is now known for its rich cultural and historical heritage as beautifully reflected in its local cuisine, music, art and architecture.
A tour of Naples is not complete without indulging in the splendor of its architecture. Its centuries old buildings, churches and piazzas are a sight to behold and a delight to experience.
The best place to start the exploration of Naples’ architecture is from the grand Piazza del Plebiscito. It is the main city square of the city. A series of huge colonnades connect the Royal Palace on the east to the church of San Francesco di Paola on the west. The Royal Palace is an impressive structure with a red faÃƒ§ade and eight niches holding the statues of the past eight8 kings of Naples.
It’s Throne Room, Oratory and Court Theatre with its lavish tapestries, paintings and porcelains are definitely worth checking out. On the western side of the piazza is San Francesco di Paola with its Pantheon-inspired faÃƒ§ade of six columns and two Ionic pillars. Its interior may not be as impressive, but its towering dome and altar decorated with lapis-lazuli and precious stones makes it worth a visit.
Nearby is the largest theatre in Italy, known as the San Carlo Theatre, considered to be one of the finest in the world. You will certainly agree with this lofty claim upon laying eyes on the opulence of its gold and red interiors, huge stage, luxurious curtain of gold and six tiers of 185 boxes. Built in 1737, it remains the center of opera and classical music performances in Italy to this day.
Next in the itinerary is the Maschio Angioino, popularly known as the Castel Nuovo. Construction began in 1279 and it became the center of the city’s political activity. It is famous for the Triumphal Arch, built in 1454, that is reminiscent of many Roman Triumphs and considered as one of the best representations of southern Renaissance period.
The Egg Castle
Located on the small Island near Santa Lucia’s harbor is another well-known monument of Naples, the Castel dell’Ovo or the Egg Castle. It was constructed in 1115 and served as a Norman stronghold during that period. Now it is home to a museum that holds a remarkable collection of 4,000 objects said to be remnants of the primitive age between 70,000 to 3,000 BC.
A more remarkable museum in the city of Naples is the National Archaeological Museum located at the summit of Santa Teresa hill. It houses invaluable finds from Pompeii such as the large mosaic of the Battle of Alexandria and Darius that dates back to 333 BC from the House of Faun in Pompeii. It also has an exceptional collection of Greek sculptures and ancient Egyptian art.
Plan to spend extra time in Naples enjoying this splendid architecture!
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Channels: The Calgary Beacon, May 8, 2010