Il Mezzogiorno - Naples & Southern Italy - September 2010

Naples’ Churches

Photos by Walt & Gloria Fogler-Mancini


Catholicism has long been important in Naples, to both its rulers and its people.  As far back as the 10th century, the whole of southern Italy was a papal fief and the pope significantly influenced who ruled there. Now there are over 500 churches in Naples as well as signs of devotion on the streets.  While many churches date back to the early church, they were constantly updated, rebuilt, and enlarged.  Artistically, they reached their height during the baroque period.  Not all the churches are open and others are open for limited hours. 

The Duomo (cathedral) dates back to the 13th century.   Its nave is lined with ancient columns. It is dedicated to and houses the relics of San Gennaro, the patron saint of Naples. On his feast day, September 19th, the phials of his dried blood liquify. People line up to see it and there is a festival in the streets.

The 8th century Basilica di San Paolo Maggiore was built on the site of a 1st century Roman temple to the Dioscuri and incorporated parts of it. While churches elsewhere had trouble raising funds to finish their interiors, the wealth and generosity of the Neapolitan aristocracy is evident in the chapel and sacristy of this church as in many other churches in Naples.  The Guardian Angel was reconstructed after damage the church suffered in World War II.

The Certosa di San Martino is located on Vomero hill, high above Naples and just below Castel Sant’Elmo.  This Carthusian monastery was founded by the Angevins in the 14th century and completely remodeled and rebuilt by the Spanish in the 16th and 17th centuries. The work of Naples’ finest artists and sculptors was commissioned by its priors and benefactors over many centuries.  While it fell into disrepair, it has been completely renovated in the past 50 years. It houses the Museo Nazionale di San Martino in former monastic buildings. 

The photographs were taken with Leica cameras, the M8, M9 and D-LUX 3.  All images are copyrighted and may not be reproduced without permission. We can be contacted via e-mail at   Our home page is

March 9, 2011                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 wgfm

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