The Cappella dei Pontano stands opposite the Santa Maria Maggiore Church, along the Via dei Tribunali in Naples. The chapel was commissioned by the man of letters Giovanni Pontano in 1492. Sometimes the space is used for exhibitions.
Cappella dei Pontano Naples
Address: Via dei Tribunali, 16 – Napoli. Phone: +39 081 19230565. Opening hours: From 10:00 to 20:00 (Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 to 21:00). Entrance fee: 5 Euro.
(NB: Opening times and admission prices may have changed since the time of writing.)
History Pontano Chapel
Giovanni Pontano had the chapel built in memory of his late wife Adriana Sassone, who had died in 1490. Epigraphs reveal that three of Pontano’s sons are also buried in the chapel.
For its location, Pontano chose a place close to his own home. This Palazzo Spinelli is now the seat of the Armando Diaz Trade Institute.
Three of his sons are also buried in the chapel, as evidenced by the various epigraphs.
Over the years, the chapel lost its original function. For a time, the building was even used as a vegetable store.
In the 18th century, it was again transformed into a chapel.
The Pontano Chapel is built against the bell tower of Santa Maria Maggiore Church. It is rectangular and made entirely of a type of stone called piperno.
Both the facade and interior feature ancient Greek and Latin inscriptions urging virtue. The larger epigraphs within the chapel testify to Pontano’s grief at the loss of his wife and children.
The floor of the Cappella dei Pontano is graced by majolica with motifs from nature.
The coats of arms of Pontano and his wife are also depicted. In the first, this is a bridge with two arches, in the second Heracles killing the lion.
The fresco behind the altar depicts the “Madonna and Child, along with Saints John the Baptist and John the Evangelist”. It is attributed to Francesco Cicino da Caiazzo, about whom not much more is known than that he worked around the turn of the 15th and 16th centuries.
The rose window is placed in such a way that, during the summer solstice, at 8 a.m., a ray of sunlight falls precisely on a certain point in the chapel. This spot is where the octagonal tombstone of Pontano’s wife used to be.
A relic in the form of the arm of Titus Livius was originally intended to be kept in the altar.
Although the house of worship is now known as the Cappella dei Pontano, it was originally dedicated to the Madonna and to San Giovanni Evangelista.