For the particularity of events in urban transformation of Naples, the analysis of the stories of women’s religious orders and the social environment appear to be significantly bound to the city.

The spread extension of church properties in the ancient part of the town from the sixteenth century saw a great development, in part due to the outgrowing   of the Counterreformation percepts.

The monasteries were spaces where a spiritual mission and welfare were involved, and they represented – in response to the events of Napoleonic and post-unitary suppression laws – important public facilities too.

The settlement of the religious complexes in Naples was a consequence of the Counterreformation outcomes, but also and above all a form of control of the economic power on a city that had always been a bridge between the East and Constantinople.

Naples of the  Spanish Viceroyalty was obliged to face a significant increase in population and at the same time to manage the inhabited spaces, which will be the subject of ecclesiastical settlements controlled by the Roman Papacy, with the help and support of the aristocracy and of the Neapolitan nobility.

In addition to all this, there was the unresolved question of the eastern swampy area, which prevented any programming expansion.

This was the period in which the small Naples streets were born, a Naples marked by descriptions as a challenging living spot, with the inevitable holographic connotations which throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries  have contributed to the spreading of a stereotypical image.

Even today in the ancient  center of Naples alternate wonderful palaces, churches, monasteries, and civil houses apparently without interest but characterized by elements and portals stating their construction era.

Besides the sacred and noble  architecture of considerable value, there is  an architecture “without architects” which was built thanks to established and unwritten rules, handed down by local builders, who  determined the image of Naples throughout the years.

Who walks along the Naples streets cannot have any idea about the gardens and the court islands belonging to the various ecclesiastical houses. These structures are inserted into the urban net of  Naples downtown.

Monasteries and convents are hidden, with cloisters and valuable works of art, including continuous and layered walls.

In the ancient part of the city,  nunneries, as well as all other architecture structures offer a representation of the architectural styles contemplating both Renaissance and Baroque elements, late Baroque and neo-classical solutions, as well as  classical and neo-Renaissance facades.

The manufacturer of the church buildings worked in communion with the client in order to be able to take advantage of all available spaces,  depending on the type of activities that the religious order was to play in the structure. In this case the architecture is to be considered in relation to the spiritual mission of  clergymen.

The architecture of religious buildings and the type of the complex are connected to the rule and the observance of the canons of the religious order  and the dictates of the General  Order House.

Let be only mentioned St. Peter Martyr and St. Catherine in Formello, cloisters with a double service structure, a porch with accommodations and functions being developed around a community space, often cultivated.  These same structures after the suppression of the religious orders were used for public functions or demolished to make way for new buildings.

Some religious complex will be adapted to factories, others will have public functions and  still operating, others will be demolished in the first decades of the twentieth century.

The cancellation of the Monastery of the Cross of Lucca took place between the late nineteenth  and early twentieth century in order  to build university clinics to be achieved during the restoration plan,  after 1884.

During the French decade – 1806/1815 – anti-clerical policies are carried on that limited the riches accumulated by religious Neapolitan groups. Through the laws suppressing  religious orders, the French started a social, economic and urban development renewal.

At first with the abolition of religious structures, the French government confiscated many estates to be allocated for civil and military services, which later  were used as factories, during the Bourbon period 1815/60.

In 1806 it was established that in every convent had to be at least 12 dedicated friars to avoid cancellation. During the French decade were performed works of great importance as the Poor Hostel and the  Royal Palace of Capodimonte. During this period a road was built connecting the  Museum area with the one of Capodimonte,  thanks to the “bridge on the Sanità district”

All this,  along with Foria Street,  Posillipo Street  and the Ponti Rossi Road, was possible thanks to the suppression of religious orders  allowing  to forfeit the properties that prevented the construction of trunk roads.

The French government promoted the development of science, literature and the arts, encouraging the culture and the economic and social advancement of the Kingdom. The “Royal Society for Encouragement of Natural Sciences and Economics” was founded, an  institution that will continue to operate even with the return of the Bourbons, stimulating the development of manufacturing activities,  sometimes just in the  ecclesiastical buildings  previously “cleared”.

From 1815 with the Bourbon restoration,  initiatives characterizing the previous rules will be kept, facilitating the operative aims of the Neapolitan bourgeoisie.  Government interventions were aimed at encouraging free trade in the urban areas  as well as in  the province and abroad.

Thanks to the grant of state structures at low costs,  new factories were established, with the arrival  of foreign capitals, and entrepreneurs from European countries, in which industrial development was already advanced.

Among the ecclesiastical sees that underwent a significant change of use we mention:

The monastery of Saint Mary of Life  at Fontanelle, where  two candles and wax factories were allocated, and a factory  manufacturing  beaver skins and woolen cloths.

In  the Holy Apostles  complex were placed factories for the processing of tobacco.

There  still are many  active structures, adapted for public offices in the nineteenth century. An example is the Classical High school A. Genovesi,  placed in the Jesuit structure, at the side of the church facade of  Gesù Nuovo.

Saint Peter at Majella  was transformed into the Royal Conservatory of Music.

S. Peter at Majella

S. Peter at Majella

Sant’Anna dei Lombardi at Monte Oliveto, St. Joseph and St. Christopher all’Ospedaletto were used for military purposes.

The Incurabili  hospital near S.Aniello in  Caponapoli and the Pilgrims hospital  in Pigna Secca still keep  their functions.

In addition were used for university facilities the complex of Saints Marcellino and Festo (now the Faculty of Geology of the University Federico II) and  Old Jesus (now a library) and  the  sites Saint Catherine of Siena and the historic complex of Suor Orsola Benincasa  (now being a University under the same name).

In 1823, in the sixteenth century cloister of St. Catherine in Formello  a  beaver clothing factory was settled, representing  the first Bourbon private incentive for economic development.

The  Dominican structure was particularly suited to the establishment of textile factories, due to the presence of water distributed by the public fountain Formello. In the same year an exemption of the rent payment for 15 years was issued,  with the obligation for the entrepreneur to employ  inside the factory the prisoners in jail  at the Poor Hostel.

The growing  in the factory rhythms allowed to get a new license with the provision of a new bigger building and with the employment  of further 200 units  of  “servants in punishment”.

In the middle of the nineteenth century different requisitioned ecclesiastical structures were used for drying tobacco. This is the case of the complex Teatino that underwent several changes to be adapted to the new role, with the replacement of flat slabs with metallic structures, new buildings were inserted into the courtyard,  lofts and stairs  created to connect the various floors occupied by machines, while the spans of the portico were used for drying tobacco.

In 1970, the tobacco factory abounded site and  a gradual restoration was started.

In 1864, in order to solve the problem of housing shortage, Santa Maria Donnaregina and St. Andrea delle Dame were hypothesized as residential structures. The intervention at the monastery Donnaregina is related to the work in  Cathedral Street ( Via Duomo), which continued well beyond 1864.

The technicians hypothesized to eliminate the western sector of the convent to create  construction shares for the middle class, which were obtained by works in the above mentioned Street.

In the proposal of the technicians we observe a rather casual attitude to the conservation and protection of cultural heritage, a common behavior of nineteenth-century architects and engineers. The end result is a kind of multi-purpose environments commonly used to make the most of the original features of the sites.

For the convent of the Ladies of St. Anne, the solution is more linear.  The  different functions were defined:  on the ground floor were placed structures of common use, housing facilities, all served by a common corridor,  were located on the upper floor. In addition to the division of spaces,  there was an improvement for the entrances, by an entrance hall with staircase and an adjacent elevator on the Constantinople Street.

The  reuse plan  for  monasteries will  not be achieved, due  to  bureaucratic difficulties, due to lack of public funds, and  lack of interest by entrepreneurs who favored the use of capitals in the construction of new residential districts.

The complex Donnaregina was finished with the end of  works in  Cathedral Street, while the complex of St. Andrew finished with the  restoration works.

During the restoration  works  in the mid-800s,  two important structures were demolished,  the monastery of Saint Mary  della Sapienza and the one  of the Cross of Lucca.

The monasteries were replaced by the building blocks of the university clinics of medicine.

There were many disputes, as  the Cross of Lucca Church  was considered by critics a jewel of Neapolitan Baroque. The dissent by critics was the opportunity to extend the principle of conservation in the city center of Naples, rich in  architectural  layering and  works of art.

In 1903 a group of intellectuals contributors to the magazine – Very Noble Naples –  denounced the   demolishing provision  and dealt with the enhancement of the site.

The monastery was demolished following the widespread thought  favoring the use of the conservation, encouraging the development of new factories.

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To combat unemployment , in 1746, Charles of Bourbon encouraged the textile industry and favored the settlement of foreign traders and Jews, who found the opposition of the clergy and of the people.

In this context, measures such as the expansion of the port and the arrangement of Marina Street were arranged. An extension of the big pier to the east and the construction of department stores were planned.

The small harbor was closed and there was the construction by Vaccaro of the Immacolatella Building. The walls were torn down towards the sea, and the Mergellina coast and the beginning of Posillipo Street settled.

Naples in the 1800s had all the conditions for being a capitalist town, whose primary need was consumption, although the main source of income was the construction activity only, but this could not give work to everyone, leaving out a very big share of unemployed people.

Under the Bourbon dynasty numerous road networks were completed . But we must say that these were often dictated by the need to improve connections to the Royal residences rather than improve roads for the purposes of trade .

The Royal sites are properties surrounded by a large area reserved for hunting.

Under the reigns of the first two Bourbon Kings residences were newly made by prestigious architects or already existing structures were adapted.

In 1750, following the invitation of King Charles, L.Vanvitelli and F.Fuga arrived in Naples. F. Fuga, in conjunction with the work for the Royal Palace in Caserta, was asked to build a structure that could house all the poor of the kingdom.

The hospice that was to house the poor was built in 1751 outside the Nolana Gate. A first project by Fuga included a square plan with four courtyards, according to the Vanvitelli style of the Royal Palace, but this was rejected. Because of the swampy nature of the ground which would have made the building difficult, the structure was moved to the foot of the hill of Capodimonte, where in previous centuries similar care structures were born.

The hospice would have to emphasize the generosity and affection of the Royal House for the subjects.

Fuga redesigned the hospice adapting to the new ground, proposing a structure with a rectangular base with 5 courtyards. Later two of these were cancelled due to costs reduction.

Even this project wasn’t completed, in spite of the fact in 1764, with works in progress, the structure already housed several people. In 1819, at the final interruption of work, the building housed over 2000 people.



Now the development of the hospice facade is 354m compared to the 600m included in the project. It is also noteworthy that the palace does not have an unfinished look, standing out the practical and functional aspect of the entire structure.

In 1750 Giovanni Carafa, Duke of Noja published, in the form of letters to a friend, the benefits that would have resulted from a precise map of the city of Naples. In this paper the urban problems of the city are analyzed. The need for a development plan stemmed from the lack of public facilities and the continuous increase in population.

The beauty and order as socio-political aspects, according to Carafa, would solve the economic and urban problems.

The topographic map by Carafa allowed to program ordered interventions, according to the greatest need, thanks to this new way of working, Naples started again being a European capital.

Duke of Noja,

Duke of Noja,

After the Duke of Noja’s death in 1769 the map was finished by his brother Giovanni Pignatelli, who varied it taking into account the urban changes that had been made up to that point. The work turned out very precise, so that still now it represents a valuable tool for those interested in Naples town-planning.

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The current area of Town Hall Square experienced considerable change from the beginning, due to the presence of the harbor and the Castle. Since its origins, the Town Hall Square was made up of two large roads: the Dock street and the Castle Square.

Since a few years in the underground of Town Hall Square there are some works in progress for the new subway.

The discovery of intact ships and numerous archaeological finds made ​​it possible to establish with certainty the definition of this old harbor area in the city. It was possible to identify the ancient port between the original settlement of Palepolis and the one of Neapolis .

In the seventh century the harbor, after an earthquake, became a swamp and was covered by the construction of a new road. It must be said that today the Square has almost completely lost the characteristics mentioned in the literary chronicles by Salvatore Di Giacomo: enchanted place, bustling and popular. The wide square in front of the Castle has always played a primary role in the city. The guides describe it as early as 1500, among the main town squares.

The stratification in the Castle Square is expressed in a symbolic way as it was home fort the governing power.

stretch of Via del Molo eighteenth century

stretch of Via del Molo eighteenth century

The final configuration of this square will only happen in 1800, with the restructuring and the liberation of the Castle following the restoration works in 1884.

The Castle, at first residence of the Angevins: 1266-1442; of the Aragons: 1442-1503; of the Spanish Vice-kings: 1503-1707, underwent restoration works in the late nineteenth century, finished in the thirties of the twentieth century.

The Castle liberation intervention, with the reconstruction of the towers system, led the castle to be a symbolic image of the city .

During the Fascist period and from 1950 a new road system was established – the New Seaside Street – and interventions were executed leading to the definition of city on the habour, with a compulsory traffic junction just represented by Town Hall Square. Originally the area was made up of a naturally area within the city walls and the hill of Pizzofalcone .

Charles I of Anjou in 1279 decided to build a new fortress to use as a Royal residence instead of Capuano Castle – Norman residence built a century earlier.

The New Castle was initially rectangular in plan with several towers, of this initial structure only the Palatine Chapel still remains.

In this same period the pier was built and the arsenal was moved from the east nearer to the Castle along the coast, the ​​trade area shifted from San Gaetano Square to the Market Square.

The Angevin Castle was built on the site of the church of St. Mary ad Palatinium and around this spot more residential constructions developed. In the area close to the Castle in a short period administrative structures were built as well as homes of the Court officials.

City Hall Square and the Castle Square knew major changes during the Aragon period, thanks to the renovation project -1442 – of Alfonso of Aragon.

The New Castle was almost totally rebuilt and adapted to new defensive systems, towers assumed a circular and massive form, the triumphal arch was built, a marble entrance between two towers, a testimony of Renaissance Art in Naples.

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Charles of Anjou’s decision to build a New Castle as Royal Palace has a great importance for the urban history of Naples.

With the construction of the Castle, the place for the future political, administrative and military center of the Kingdom Capital is determined. In fact, at the extreme limit of the castle in the XVI century the Vice-king Palace will be built.

In 1279 the works for the New Castle began, being necessary for the inadequacy of the Egg-Castle (Castel dell’Ovo) – too isolated to the seaside and away from the city – and Capuana Castle too far from the coast. The architect who oversaw the construction was Pierre de Chaule, who made the Castle fit for habitation already in 1282, even though the works were completed only in 1284.

The only representation we have of Naples in the late Angevin era is a front of a box painted by an unknown artist between the fourteenth and fifteenth century, preserved in New York. Representation in which it is possible to distinguish the main buildings of New Castle , Castel dell ‘Ovo , the pier , the city walls, the Palatine Chapel .

In the absence of precise iconographic sources we can get an idea of ​​the Angevin New Castle thanks to written documents and by comparison with contemporary French and Southern surviving structures .

The Palatine Chapel built starting in 1307 by Giovanni d’Isernia Caraccio, was completed in 1309 and it is the only part of the Castle preserving the fourteenth-century structure . It has a single rectangular nave , without side chapels and a flat apse enclosed by towers which connect the religious building to other castle areas.

On the walls there are traces of vaults from a previous era, the ceiling was replaced with a barrel vault in the 1500s, later demolished by modern restorations. The apse is lit by two mullioned windows and a large mullioned window on the back wall . On the facade is now possible to observe the large rose window from the Aragon age.

Around the castle there was a moat in which sea water never flowed.

Uncertain are the numbers and the shape of the towers, but according to numerous historical data there certainly stood four in the corners and at least three to the seaside. On the northern side which faced the city, sources report the presence of a Gate flanked by two towers, according to traditional schemes.

Connected with the defense structures of the Castle we find the tower of St. Vincent built in 1389 on a small island on the sea, well evidently shown in all the representations, until its demolition in 1742 .



The sources do not indicate the towers shape, but we do know that in France they were circular in shape, while in Italy they had a square or polygonal form. Near the Castle, buildings were built for the children of Charles II and under the reign of Robert the park was created and continually embellished.

Following fires, sieges and wars the Angevin New Castle fell into disrepair.

In 1442 Alphonse the Magnanimous went to Naples and immediately decreed the reconstruction of the Castle. In 1450 the restoration, repeatedly interrupted by wars, brought radical changes to the Castle.

The new towers were set and adapted to a modern defense, less high and less slender, with powerful footings, with grooves not only concave but spiral, to prevent the support of stairs and war machines. The Beverello, gold, and St. George towers were ended, as well as the two Gate towers.

The work continued until 1456, the year of the earthquake that caused severe damage to the tower of St. George and the Palatine Chapel.

The Table Strozzi describes in detail the Castle and the surrounding area, flanked by written sources it allows the reading of architectural structures. In the Table the Castle appears inserted among gardens and Prince houses, and the area now occupied by Square Plebiscito seems completely flat .

The painting gives us the perspective of the city on the sea, as the true protagonist of the work is the return of the Aragon fleet after the victory against the Angevins at the Battle of Ischia in 1465. New Castle is depicted with great precision, we can clearly distinguish the materials with which it is built thanks to the variation of colors allowing us to recognize the gray of piperno stone from the yellow tuff .

 Table Strozzi

Table Strozzi

In all fifteen century representations, the features making the New Castle the largest fortified Palace of the 1400s appear evident. The most famous spot in the Castle is the Barons Hall, now home to the City Council, so called because in 1486 the Barons who had conspired against King were arrested.

Stepping through the door at the top of the stairs you enter a large, almost cubic hall whose walls are topped by a huge vault open at the top by a large oculus.

Unfortunately the Hall in 1919 was devastated by a fire that totally wiped out the beautiful decorations.

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In the spirit of renewal spreading in the after cholera time, and driven by the housing situation , a committee examined the possibility of immediate realization of projects for the remediation of areas, such as St.Brigida district, close to the Royal Palace. The buildings had a dignified look, but you could not say the same for the interiors, in the streets crossing the center towered dilapidated buildings in the height of six floors.

There were also buildings of particular architectural interest such as the Church of St. Brigida and the one of St. Ferdinand .

In the four projects examined by the government for the restoration, it was common the need to improve the view to the San Carlo (St. Charels) Theater. Engineer Alfredo Cottrau in the name of morality and hygiene , proposed restructuring the entire area, the project involved the demolition of the church of St. Ferdinand which according to the engineer, was an obstacle to the expansion of the theater. The proposal aroused much criticism and failed.

Engineer Emanuele Rocco presented a project that involved the construction of four large buildings managed by a large gallery of iron and glass of 1076 square meters.

The four arms of different length, intersecting, gave rise to an octagonal cross covered by a wide dome. The most important buildings are still preserved, as well as an exedra colonnade near the St. Charles Theatre, that would create an open space in front of the theatre, allowing a greater visibility .

During the execution phase there were several changes, the work proceeded speedily and in 1892 the mayor Nicola Amore inaugurated the Umberto I Gallery, and for that occasion an exhibition of artistic handworkers and industrial products was held.

The construction speed is to be put in relation with the great possibilities of earnings this area promised, being an important commercial spot. Furthermore, reasons of prestige and decorum pushed the city authorities to a record time realization, as proof of their administrative ability.

The Gallery became a symbol of the bourgeois class in opposition to the urban landscape surroundings, which lived a strong architectural emergency. For a long time the Gallery was the living center of the cultural and commercial town, satisfying the function for which it was intended .



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In the second half of the 18th century Naples is characterized by the presence of two important public buildings, the Palace of the Studies – the current national archaeological museum – and the wheat moats.

The presence of Square Mercatello – now Piazza Dante- next to Port’Alba, (Alba Gate) both defined an area of ​​possible expansion and construction of a middle-class district.

The palace of Royal Studies, home of the University was conceived in 1612 by Giulio Cesare Fontana on a flat ground outside the wall system, following the will of Vice-king Count of Lemos.

The wheat moats were built by the Vice-king Olivares in the 17th century for the storage of wheat, located close to the city walls and on a large slope, in the block connecting the Palace of Studies to Port’Alba stood the Church St. Mary of Constantinople and the Church of St. John the Baptist of the Nuns. In front of the Palace of the University there was Gate Constantinople on Constantinople Street, while Gate Sciuscella led to Port’Alba and further reaching outside the walls.

With the obsolescence of the wheat moats, these were re-used for different purposes: prison, hearses store, barracks.

In 1840 the wheat moats were proposed to be eliminated, as well as the demolition of Gate Constantinople and a regularization of Square Mercatello in order to build up a new road axis linking Toledo Street to the National Museum.

In the mid 1800s Ferdinand II conceived a program aimed at improving and enhancing the city’s urban structure, as to compete with the major European capitals.

The Museum district project was undertaken in 1850 and was completed only after the Italy Unification and represented the possibility of building a new middle-class neighborhood with a large shopping gallery with artistic and commercial functions.

The creation of the Museum district and of the Prince of Naples Gallery passed through proposals and projects very often modified due to excessive costs of construction works.

In 1853 Ferdinand II examined the proposal of building a new City Hall, near and similar to the National Museum, which the extension of Foria Street was to follow to, and where numerous shops were supposed to be located.

In 1859 an area restructuring is made, letting the convent complexes untouched, dividing the land into lots for residential construction, letting go of the idea about a new Town Hall. In addition, in anticipation of such works the Gate Constantinople and the wheat moats were demolished , smoothing and adjusting the slope to the Palace of Studies.

The iron and glass architecture appears since the early 800s and represents one of the most important aspects of building techniques, both for the importance of innovation and the possibility that such buildings guaranteed great practicable spaces for the production and the trade .

The iron – then cast iron – was used for cultural classical buildings across Europe – example : exposed iron beams in the Marble Palace in St. Petersburg – 1768/1772. In Italy there are remarkable galleries in Milan, Genoa: Mazzini; Rome: Colonna, now Alberto Sordi .

The galleries are derived from covered structures for the crossing and walking, engaged mainly in commercial and service sectors, and represent a new type of architecture, becoming widespread due to great international exhibitions .

The final solution of the Prince of Naples Gallery in the Museum district found its reason from these trends, and from the successful operation of the Gallery in Milan, placed in a key point of the city between the Cathedral and the Scala theater . This Gallery plays a role as city living room with adjoining places for social meetings and trade .

Until then, the iron and glass structures in Naples were quite limited and had only a public use: markets in San Pasquale a Chiaia, on Square Carità, or public passages as the internal corridor in St. James Palace, or monumental covers , like the dome of the church St. Francis of Paola .

The Museum disctrict and the Gallery were completed in 1883 on the eve of the cholera epidemic that will transform Naples in a domestic case, which was followed by the rehabilitation works.

In the Prince of Naples Gallery the presence of connecting stairways led to its small vision and its strangeness in the surrounding environment.



It’s important to remember that the Gallery Hall was a privileged place for the holding of scientific conferences and public events. There was also a large presence of fashion styled coffee-shops, art shops, bookstores and antique shops.

After Italy Unification, the municipality proposed a competition for the improvement of a road connecting Mercatello Square with the National museum, the projects received often did not take into account the preservation of historic buildings, and therefore they were refused.

Only in 1862 there was the approval of a project for a straight road parallel to the one uphill to the Palace of Studies, that connected the National Museum square with the present Square del Gesù.

In 1864 the Academy of Fine Arts was built, and together with the National Museum gave the area a strong artistic character.

The Academy of Fine Arts is one of the best works of architectural production of the 800s, with elevations in neo-Renaissance style and a facade of worked and decorated tuff.

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During the 18th century the Gulf of Naples, because of its great beauty, became one of the favorite scenarios preferred by painters, who painted it from the sea, from the beach of Chiaia and the Carmine Castle, in painting depictions rich of movement for the presence of sailing ships, fishing boats, in a Naples portrayed in its most fascinating aspects, on a background composed of terraces overlooking the sea alternating with domes seeming to disappear behind the imposing Bourbon buildings.

In the second half of the 1700 the attention focused on the problem of clutter buildings that plagued the city . Thus without having tangible results given the complete aversion of the clergy and private citizens, who saw in the building regulations a great loss of earnings .

In 1760 there was the final arrangement of the Square Mercatello on which faced the Royal Gate leading to Toledo Street, and of Gate Alba (Port’Alba) set in an ancient Angevin tower .

Although the area not far from Tribunali Street would fit in an urban arrangement, it remained within the walls, stemmed from the major roads of communication. After the demolition of the Royal Gate the square will be the natural continuation of Toledo Street.

Between 1778 and 1780, the construction of the Royal Villa in the Riviera di Chiaia was very important, remaining today the only public garden in the city that was originally planned as a garden. Ferdinand IV entrusted Carlo Vanvitelli with the construction of the garden.

Vanvitelli was inspired by French gardens tracing five long avenues adorned with fountains, statues of mythological figures and benches. The main feature of the park was the direct contact with the sea, there was a double row of bleachers on the outer side of the avenue, which were used as seats, from which it was possible to observe the splendor of the bay and the beach.

The Vanvitelli structure was altered for the extension works of the gardens during the 1800s .

In 1779 Ferdinand IV divided the city into 12 districts supervised by the Criminal Judge of the High Court and the affixing of house numbers and street signs for a better knowledge of the city and a better control of the citizens.



A very important planning event happened in 1781 because of Francesco Sicuro, who, after a fire, took charge of rebuilding the Market Square . Sicuro replaced the wooden huts with shops masonry arranged in a rectangular pattern, whose center is a large exedra . The main entrance was placed on the Seaside street, with the presence of two large fountains.

In 1781 a decree was issued to get knowledge about the building situation in Naples, resulting in a demeaning context, where corruption was the main protagonist and crashes and injuries were caused by frequent and often, short time house building by people who boasted but were not entitled to.

The situation degenerated to the point that the adoption of the constitution of Zeno, adopted in the fifth century in Constantinople to reduce abuses in height, was suggested. The proposal was rejected by the House of St. Chiara who merely asserted the non-binding habits of common sense.

In these same years St. Leucio near Caserta was built, on the basis of a new model of community organization, founded on work and equality. St. Leucio became part of the Bourbon properties assets and of the Vanvitelli plan, where it was to be connected to the Palace by long straight avenues .

The properties were enlarged ant the first factories and farms were built. In the area development kept going on thanks to the establishment of foreign masters who favored the growing of new techniques .

In 1779 the Leucian Statute was issued, which the construction of a new Ferdinandopole worker center was connected to.

The Neapolitan intellectuals complained about a lack of attention to the city from the King. Vincenzo Ruffo in 1789 published a paper setting out the capital’s urban problems and how these could have been solved. The script is the only work of the 1700 trying to solve problems of the capital. Ruffo criticized the urban structure of the extremely chaotic small streets, and refusing any urban intervention prior to the Bourbon period, even Charles and Ferdinand were criticized for their marginal attention to the city center itself, leaving unchanged the pattern of narrow and twisty small raods.

To solve the urban problem Ruffo fixed four basic points: entrances, roads, palaces and buildings.

The main accesses to the city should be regular shaped squares, from which straight lined and tree sided roads started, creating junctions between the city center and the surrounding area.

Ruffo intended these points as simple tips to the authorities and hoped that one day there might be a man able to realize some results. Vincenzo Ruffo also examined the economic aspect of his program and argued that the Charities Institutes should finance the works, rather than “keep groups of poor idle”, while the area for the new squares would have been achieved by the demolition of monasteries, if that was needed.

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Napoli followed the urban development that began in the major European capitals in the middle of the nineteenth century.

The quick running of scientific progress and the rise of the bourgeois class deeply marked the process of urban development and the processes of the city transformation. The policy of Ferdinand II was considered updated with the main European countries.

He developed the idea of ​​creating a western neighborhood – an aristocratic and bourgeois residence place, and an eastern one – for industries and workers – and the construction of a road and rail network .

In 1839 the ” council of city building ” was started, the first railway connection of Italy: Naples – Portici inaugurated, approaching Naples to Herculaneum and the Royal Palace of Portici , a very popular tourist destination during the Grand Tour.

In 1840 the debate on the construction of the industrial district in the east area began, which resulted marshy and poorly suited to industrial development.

The ” technical trips ” became fundamental as means of updating knowledge, and learning from urban development in other cities. In Naples between 1840 and 1880 several urban axes were built: Alley Garibaldi , renovation of Toledo Street , Cathedral Street and Alley Vittorio Emanuele .

The Alley Garibaldi was designed following the construction of the railway, establishing a connection with Foria Street and the Seaside, passing by the Aragon walls .

Alley Vittorio Emanuele is one of the most important routes in the 800s, conceived as a sort of ring road up the hill. The construction works of the Alley Maria Teresa, after Italy Unification renamed Alley Vittorio Emanuele, began in 1853 and ended in 1873. The neighborhood surrounding the Alley Vittorio Emanuele as early as 1859 turned out to be aristocratic and bourgeois .

The Cathedral Street was an attempt to decongest the old town part allowing direct access to Seaside Street and Foria Street. By a slight slope it was possible to solve the problem of unevenness in the three decumani .

Cathedral Street is the first case of town demolition and is the only way altering the design of the ancient core of the city.

Via Duomo

Via Duomo

In 1860 the City Council of Naples approve works about the extension of the Alley Garibaldi , and the connection of Allet Vittorio Emanuele with Toledo Street and Vomero quarter.

The layout of the seafront was arranged, isolating the town park and establishing a pleasant road along the seaside area. Despite the planning, the works went very slowly and in some cases never completed, due to some administrative and bureaucratic difficulties, influenced by the attitude of speculative business classes .

Precepts of Art were established, essential information which were to be obeyed by all architects, thus forming a distinctive feature of the townscape – a classical appearance. This legislation remained in force about 20 years after Italy Unification.

After Italy Unification in Naples we see a continuation of the works started or planned during the previous regime. Between 1861 and 1871 the hygienic conditions in the city worsened more and more , until 1884 the period of cholera outbreak and the subsequent restoration.

The national law of 1865 obliged the owners to contribute in fulfilling public works, this was the first step to start the dynamics for restructuring town centers. In subsequent years plans of “enlargement “, ” expansion “, ” embellishment ” will follow.

With Italy Unification the process of unification of the national network of mobility begins, as it could not be separated from the development of city centers. In the Naples east area an industrial center developed, registering the presence of iron and steel factories and manufacturing sites, in particular products of leather and textile manufacturers in addition to ceramics.

This concentration of production together with the presence of the railway station suggested the government programs aimed at the industrial growth of the place .

At the same time there was a progressive scientific and technological development that led to the gradual spread of railway tracks, and attempts of planning the city development. From a social point of view there was the final statement of the bourgeois and entrepreneurs class, which will determine the transformation of large town centers.

The construction of places for tourist accommodation and services, the improvement of transport systems will be preferred and promoted, as well as trade, culture, and recreation places, but also the planning of health care facilities, representation services and so-called “places of memory ” .

In southern Italy the territorial development policies, started during the Bourbon period, had an obvious derivation from the processes undertaken during the French decade -1806-1815. In 1887 the municipality of Naples began again to discuss the possibility of a master plan for equally developing industry, trade and urban planning, like in other Italian cities .

The commission in charge of drawing up the plan, proposed the creation of a navigable canal allowing the transport of goods, and at the same time it solved the problem of the area restoration, with the outlet of its water into the sea.

The dirty water would be discharged into a depth of about five meters from the sea surface, allowing the free movement of waters, a steady element of unhealthy causes for that place. In addition to the production value, new housing for the working class were planned.

The master plan of the new industrial district was approved in 1887 and included, as a restoration plan, in the expense funds allocated by the special law of 1885.

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Under Ferdinand II of Bourbon -1830/1859- urban development took place in Naples.

The King drew up a program aimed at integrating the old city core with new areas of expansion outside the walls, characterized by a series of traffic connections, which are essential for the creation of new districts. The main areas of expansion were to the east, a swampy place for industrial expansion and housing workers. The western area was a preferred place for its beautiful landscapes, and its noble and bourgeois residence houses.

The need to restructure Naples coincided with the ideals of embellishment and decoration launched in the major European capitals. Since 1840 there was the rearranging of Via Foria, the reconstruction of Via Toledo, and the building of Via Duomo.

The road structure around the old center of the capital became shaped and materialized.

Besides the works already mentioned there was the pavement of Arenaccia Street that led to a quick connection with the coast and it also connected by a road axis east-west the Marina Street to Poggioreale Street.

In 1853 Ferdinand II decided to build a new road that would connect the west with the east of the city, turning around the top of the hill San Martino until reaching Chiaia district.

The rather articulated road was divided into the three parts, and realized in different times.

The part from Mergellina to Suor Orsola was completed around 1860, from Suor Orsola to Piazza Mazzini in 1873 – and finally, the third trunk never realized had to lead up to Capodimonte. In 1853, the route was inaugurated, offering citizens the most beautiful gallery in the world, a road whose exceptional panoramic appearance was admired.

 Maria Theresa Alley

Maria Theresa Alley

For the opening of the road, built by temporary works in less than two months , 1000 workers were employed and six wood bridges to overcome the uneven terrain were built. The landscape protection plan was particularly interesting and cared about.

Along Maria Theresa Alley was forbidden to construct buildings, walls and buildings that blocked the view to the capital. For the final arrangement of the road it was necessary to wait several years,. The route was modified several times, due to construction techniques necessiries.

The square-spot before the church of Piedigrotta became very important as it was the most representative place along the new road. The engineers decided to create a large square in front of the church.

By the arrangement of the square, the paving of the ramps of St. Anthony in Posillipo was started and the route was made easier by the addition of numerous street uphill bends leading to the monastery of St. Anthony.

After the construction of the first Italian railway linking from Naples to Portici, Ferdinand II decided to plan a new road linking connecting Via Marinella to Capuana Gate. The idea about ​​this alley is in tune with the nineteen century European town-planning schemes in connection with railway construction and acquisition of new land bourgeois house building, near ancient walls and moats which no longer had any reason to exist.

So a project is approved, subsequently amended by the king himself, which provided a regulation track at low cost, and the possibility to take advantage of large areas for buildings construction. On the basis of such instructions, works began in Via dei Fossi that ended after 1860.

Some points were eliminated during construction as:

– A semi-elliptical Square at the corner on Via Marina.

– Construction of the Church of Good Counsel at the Capuana Gate.

The construction of the church of Saints Cosmas and Damian was completed, whose project was revised several times due to the high building costs. Instead of having a Latin cross plan with three naves and neoclassical decoration, it was built a church with a longitudinal plan by a single nave with a semicircular apse smaller than the initial project one.

The new church of Saints Cosmas and Damian was opened to the public in 1851, and was again modified in the 900s.

Toledo Street:

In 1848 there was the arrangement of Toledo Street with the correction of the road plan. The long road stretch is divided into 4 parts. The work proceeded rapidly in the first phase, afterwards they suffered a series of interruptions due to technical unexpected problems. The final completion will be reached around 1860.

Different solutions were studied to make Toledo Street as linear as possible, creating widenings along the route. At first following the explicit will of the sovereign the road axis was made to reach the National Museum. In 1858 the Carità square-spot was built: a square with a monument to San Gaetano.

Carità square-spot

Carità square-spot

The peculiarity of the Square and then all of Toledo Street was the lighting, whose crystal globes had been purchased abroad. The planning engineers faced for the first time the problem of rectification, the road section with a non-regular plan, caused problems to the carriages traffic, and in some places it still had the remains of Aragon walls.

Important is the solution and the channeling of waste water by building several secondary channels flowing into the middle sewer, already built during the Spanish Vice-kingdom.

This arrangement allowed the water to flow off till the Palace square running under the church of San Francesco of Paola and flowing into the sea near Piazza Vittoria. In addition to the sewage problem the water supply problem was solved, by the construction of canals that carried water into town from the Carmignano area.

For the maintenance of the buildings along the road the Precepts of Art were adopted, and in 1851 rules for the decor of Toledo Street were issued. Among these standards interesting is the one concerning the shop signs, “the shops signs of each building, as to its form, color and writing letters have to be the same or similar to each otrher.”

Duomo Street:

in 1839 there was the preparation of a new road project, which crossing the ancient town core, should connect the north area with the southern part of the city.

The new route had a number of squares corresponding to the decumani and main roads, according to a typically nineteenth century logic. There was the widening of a series of narrow streets crossing the ancient city core, from the north to the seaside part of town.

The construction of the road which was to lead to the cathedral will be approved by the king, who ordered the expansion from the rear of the San Severo Church. Ferdinand II pointed out the construction of the Cathedral and the road passing behind the cathedral, this one had to be particularly broad in magnificence and was to be called after Ferdinand, what never happened.

In 1863 works began on the construction of the road, but the necessary demolitions began only in 1860 with the expropriation of ecclesiastical housings.

From the documents, in the case Duomo Street, corrections and directions by the Bourbon king emerge, processed in planning and designing and during works progress , but as usual, difficulties of working about some church properties came up, affecting the final order of execution.

Ferdinando II

Ferdinando II

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Don Pedro de Toledo arrived in Naples in 1532 and found an overpopulated city, without sewers, with streets badly paved and full of building bad structures.

Don Pedro de Toledo

Don Pedro de Toledo

The King tried to stem this situation with several interventions; he issued a notice with the threat of fines to eliminate picking and the benches.

In 1534 the paving of roads started. Meanwhile the restoration and construction of new buildings was carried on.

Due to the continuous increase in the population the city extended beyond the walls of villages, spreading out in the districts Loreto, S. Antonio Abate, Vergini and Chiaia. The presence of swamps in the East area had caused the Western development area of the City to be preferred – despite the ground relief difficulties.

The Toledo street was tangent to the old core of the town, and on the West side there were the Spanish quarters, towards the sea the construction of the Vice-king Palace began.

The Don Pedro de Toledo’s plan was the first and only major episode of urban intervention. The need arose from the constant increase of Neapolitan population of 155,000 in habitants in 1528 and reaching 212,000 units in 1547.

After this expansion, the King tried with restrictive laws to prevent the expansion beyond the city walls.

Between the 15th and 16th centuries there were many pragmatics forbidding the expansion in villages and along the Hill of s. Martino.

This town-planning policy was justified by preventing migration from the countryside to the City Centre (the depopulation of the countryside endangers the agricultural economy), and by the need to defend the city, leaving a large area free from homes both inside and outside the walls.

This policy had extremely negative consequences.

In the Spanish quarters and in almost all the city central ones superstructures altered existing buildings, increasing the height and occupying the previous green interiors.

The already bad situation increased by the imbalance between civil and religious house building. This unequal balance got worse after the Counter-Reformation, when new orders arrived in Naples to stem the development of Lutheran and Calvinistic tendencies.

In accordance with new provisions they proceeded to tear down the old Byzantine and Romanesque monastic buildings, in favour of the new Conventual organisms architecturally very similar to each other.

Meanwhile, the population steadily increased , in 1614, there were 327,961 inhabitants, in the middle of the 600 became, 425,000. After the plague of 1656 the population dramatically dropped to 140,000 inhabitants.

Not even after the plague measures were taken to improve the town situation , a sign that the conditions of the Neapolitan people were indifferent to the Spanish authorities.

In the early years of the 600 knowledge of situation plaguing Naples was carried to Philip III as well as the wishes of Neapolitans to leave the city in search of a place that would give them a house, if the King would not decide to intervene.

Instead of deepening into the causes of such requests, the King acted out of interest, preventing the peasants to leave their lands and therefore not paying taxes, so he began to issue building permits.

Who had built with regular license would not be fined, who had broken the previous ban, had to pay 5% of the building value.

Instead for getting a building permit was necessary pay a 10% tax on the value of the building.

In doing so, Philip III tried to have more control over constructions, but the increase in population and the need for homes were stronger than any limitation.

Illegal character brought to sloppy constructions in villages, while inside the walls, the houses reached impressive heights, configuring the urban structure that will remain unchanged until the 19th century.

The vice-king authorized the construction of dwellings only after paying fees, depriving the possibility of building for less well-to-do classes, and ordered the total repression, although people continued to build houses illegally.

With Philip III increases the imbalance between civil and monastery building construction, since monastic building licenses were granted to monasteries with great ease, as the Royal power was in need of economic and moral support from the Conventual community to consolidate its authority.

The Plebs was even more impressed by this way of acting, because the money amassed by priests was just not used in productive investments, but was largely sent to the Papal States.

In the early years of the 700 the factors that had affected negatively on the city during the Spanish era were analyzed, and new factors emerged as; apathy of the Government, corruption of judges, tax fury against the poor part of the population.

The result of the Spanish succession war determined the end of the Vice-kingdom, partly solving the age-old events.

On July 7, 1707 count Duan entered the city in command of the Imperial Army and was appointed first Austrian Vice-king.

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