Discover Naples

The history of Naples is long and varied, dating to Greek settlements established in the Naples area in the 2nd millennium BC.[1] During the end of the Greek Dark Ages a larger mainland colony – initially known as Parthenope – developed on the Pizzofalcone hill in the 8th century BC,[2] and was refounded as Neapolis in the 6th century BC:[3] it held an important role in Magna Graecia. The Greek culture of Naples was important to later Roman society. When the city became part of the Roman Republic in the central province of the Empire, it was a major cultural centre.[4]

It served as the capital of the Duchy of Naples (661–1139), of the Kingdom of Sicily, of the Kingdom of Naples (1282–1816) and finally of the Two Sicilies until the unification of Italy in 1861. The city has seen the rise and fall of several civilisations and cultures, each of which has left traces in its art and architecture, and during the Renaissance[5] and the Enlightenment was a major centre of culture.[6] It was also a capital of the Baroque, beginning with the artist Caravaggio‘s career in the 17th century, and the artistic revolution he inspired.

During the Neapolitan War, the city rebelled against the Bourbon monarchs, spurring the early push towards Italian unification.

Today, Naples is part of the Italian Republic, the third largest municipality (central area) by population after Rome and Milan, and has the second or third largest metropolitan area of Italy.

Greek birth, Roman acquisition


Ancient Sites in the vicinity of Naples



Walls of Parthenope – Monte Echia


Megaride with the Castel dell’Ovo

The Naples area has been inhabited since the Stone Age.

In the second millennium BC, a first Mycenaean settlement arose not far from the geographical position of the future city of Parthenope.[7]

Parthenope was founded by Cumae, the earliest Greek city on mainland Italy, at the end of the 8th century BC.[8] Parthenope was named after the siren in Greek mythology, said to have washed ashore at Megaride, having thrown herself into the sea after she failed to bewitch Ulysses with her song. The settlement was built on the Pizzofalcone promontory allowing control of sea traffic in the area.

Little archaeology for Parthenope has come to light, but a necropolis of the 7th century BC was discovered in via Nicotera. A ceramics waste dump dated to the Archaic Age was discovered in via Chiatamone where it had slid from the hill of Pizzofalcone. A tuff wall of the 6th c. BC was found in via S. Giacomo, near the town hall, which was a part of the port and may have had both boundary and defensive purposes.[9]

When the colony began to be more frequented due to the abundance and amenity of the places, the Cumaens, worried that their city would be abandoned, decided to «destroy» it.[10]

The refoundation as Neapolis

Neapolis (New City) was founded by the Cumaen aristocracy expelled by the tyrant Aristodemus after the victory of Aricia in 507 BC.

The oligarchs decided to establish Neapolis as a “second Cumae”, similar to the city from which they came; for example, the continuation of cults such as that of Demeter and the faithful resumption of the organisation in phrenias confirm this. This chronology is confirmed by archaeological finds.[11]

The original center of Parthenope on the Pizzofalcone hill was simply called Palaipolis (Latin: Palaepolis ), the “old city”, and survived as a second peripheral pole of Neapolis.

The new city complex was designed on a rectangular grid of streets. It was built on a plateau sloping from north to south which allowed space for a new city. Swamps made routes to the hinterland difficult and prevented its possession of extensive agricultural lands (ager) that most of Campania benefitted from, and made Neapolis focus on the sea and trade for its livelihood.

The city eventually became one of the foremost cities of Magna Graecia and long retained its Greek culture even after defeat by the Romans.

Neapolis had an acropolis (area of Sant’Aniello in Caponapoli), agora (area of Piazza San Gaetano ) and necropolis (various examples remain, the most famous of which is the necropolis of Castel Capuano). It also eventually had strong walls (5th century), an odeon, a theatre and the temple of the city’s patron gods, the Dioscuri.


Credits: Wikipedia