The city of St Gennaro
The Cathedral of Naples is a real monumental masterpiece you can’t miss when visiting Naples. Located in the old town centre, on Via Duomo, it is dedicated to the Assumption of Mary, later it was consecrated to the patron saint of the city, St. Gennaro.
Its construction dates back to the 13th century, at the behest of Charles II of Anjou and shows different styles, from Gothic to Baroque, up to the nineteenth-century Neo-Gothic. The Cathedral’s façade, renovated several times over the centuries, is about 50 m high and is in marble and has three gates and two bell towers. The central gate is supported by two marble lions, due to the Tuscan sculptor Tino di Camaino. The interior has three naves: the central one is about 100 m deep with a wonderful seventeenth-century coffered ceiling. In the side naves there are 10 chapels, five on each side, and altars with works by the greatest artists from the 13th to 19th century.
The St. Gennaro Treasure Museum was opened in 2003 and is the richest treasure in the world. In addition to guarding the ampoules with the blood of the patron saint, it is rich in marble, statues, relics and various silvers that devoted people have protected during the numerous city robberies. The most precious objects kept in it are without a doubt the miter of St. Gennaro, in which 3964 stones are set: diamonds, rubies and emeralds, and the necklace, a symbol of faith and devotion, made from 1679 to 1929, to which Kings and Popes added priceless gems and precious stones.
The Neapolitans have a deep and shared feeling for San Gennaro and consider him a close and reassuring presence, who to talk to in case of advice and need. The festivity of St Gennaro is September 19th. Three times a year, that is on the first Saturday of May, September 19th and December 16th, thousands of believers gather in the Cathedral to witness the phenomenon of the blood’s melting during a solemn celebration led by the archbishop of the city. The ritual consists of picking up the ampoules from a safe located behind the altar of the Chapel of the Treasure of St. Gennaro. At this point, the archbishop begins to shake the ampoules so as to allow the liquefaction of the substance contained in them: according to popular tradition, the melting of the blood indicates good omens for the city; on the contrary, if it doesn’t melt dramatic events will take place. History has reported several cases of catastrophes coincident with the failure of the blood to dissolve, such as the beginning of the Second World War and the entry of the conflict in Italy in 1939-1940; the occupation of the Nazis in Italy in 1943; the cholera epidemic in Naples in 1973 and the earthquake in Irpina in November 1980, which caused almost 3000 deaths.
Where to eat next to the Cathedral:
Januarius: it is located in front of the Cathedral and offers typical dishes of the Neapolitan tradition
Along Via dei Tribunali there are some of the most famous pizzerias in the city: Gino and Totò Sorbillo, Donna Sofia, Di Matteo, Dal Presidente.
The Catacombs of St Gennaro
Naples has several hidden treasures and an underground city that deserves to be discovered. The famous catacombs of St Gennaro dates back to the II century a.C. It is about a tomb of a noble family that afterwards gave the spaces to the Christian community and today the mass is still celebrated there. These are considered the most important monument of the Christian religion in Naples.
The beauty of Neapolitan tuff walls and the wide spaces make this site unique in each characteristic. The catacombs are located on two floors. In the lower one there is the basilica of St Agrippino the first saint patron of Naples, while in the upper one there are an ancient tomb that preserves many first Christian pictures, the crypt of bishops and the basilica adjecta. After the translation of the remains of St Gennaro in the V century became place of pilgrimage and burial place. On the upper level there is also the Tomb of St Gennaro which contained the remains of the Saint patron of Naples before being definitively transferred to the Duomo.
Reservation is mandatory for the tour. The entrance is in via Capodimonte, 13.
Information and tickets: https://www.catacombedinapoli.it/it/luoghi/catacombe-di-san-gennaro-napoli
From Monday to Saturday from 10.00 am until 5.00 pm (last entry at 5 pm)
On Sunday from 10.00 am until 2.00 pm (last entry 2.00 pm)
How to get to the Catacombs:
by bus from Museo, take the Line 3M
St Gennaro’s Mural
In via Duomo just a few steps from St Gennaro’s Treasure there is the mural which portrays St Gennaro created by Jorit, the artist of several murals in different quarters of Naples. The face is inspired by an ordinary person a friend of the artist who always depicts common people in his works. Coming from Spaccanapoli you can admire the magnificence of this Neapolitan street art work able to enchant who steps forward.