The Historic Centre of Naples - UNESCO World Heritage
The History of Naples
Located in southern Italy, Naples is a major port city in the centre of the ancient Mediterranean region. Its origins go back to its foundation as Parthenope or Palaepolis in the 9th century B.C., subsequently re-established as Neapolis (New City) in 470 B.C. It is therefore one of the most ancient cities in Europe, whose current urban fabric preserves a selection of outstanding elements of its long and eventful history, as expressed in its street pattern, its wealth of historic buildings and parks, the continuation of many of its urban and social functions, its wonderful setting on the Bay of Naples and the continuity of its historical stratification.
Naples was among the foremost cities of Magna Graecia, playing a key role in the transmission of Greek culture to Roman society. It eventually became a major cultural centre in the Roman Republic, civitas foederata. In the 6th century A.D., Naples was conquered by the Byzantine Empire, becoming an autonomous Duchy, later associated with the Normans, Swabians, and the Sicilian reign. Evidence of this period includes the Castel dell'Ovo, one of the most substantial survivals from the Norman period, although subsequently remodelled on several occasions.
With the Angevin dynasty (1265-1442), Naples became the living symbol of the prestige, dignity, and power of the dynasty. The city expanded to include suburbs and neighbouring villages. The convents of Santa Chiara and San Lorenzo Maggiore and the churches of Donna Regina and I’lncoronata, San Lorenzo Maggiore, San Domenico Maggiore and the new Cathedral date from this period.
From the 15th to 17th centuries, Naples was governed by the Aragonese. The period of Spanish rule is marked by the Royal Palace built in 1600 along one side of the imposing Piazza del Plebiscito, the Monte dei Poveri Vergognosi charitable institution, the convent of Sant'Agostino degli Scalzi, and the Jesuit College on Capodimonte.
From 1734, under the government of the Bourbons, Naples emerged, together with Paris and London, as one of the major capital cities of Europe. The architectural heritage of Naples from this period was widely influential, and is expressed particularly in the interior design of the royal palaces and associated noble residences that were part of the territorial system extending far beyond the city itself. Important palaces of the 18th century include the National Archaeological Museum.